Warriors likely to start season with same look

Getty Images file photoToo little? The Warriors will likely start the season without significant trades or free-agent signings

Getty Images file photoToo little? The Warriors will likely start the season without significant trades or free-agent signings

Don Nelson is gone, but his legacy remains, which is a problem for the Warriors.

Nelson liked to play smaller-but-quicker players who could score a lot of points. Defense? No problem. We’ll just outscore other teams.

When Keith Smart took over as coach before last season, he said his emphasis would be on defense and rebounding.

How did that work? Well, when new coach Mark Jackson and general manager Larry Riley met with the media Thursday, Jackson said, “Watching the videos, I saw a team that was very good at the offensive end, scoring a lot of points, but didn’t buy into the concept of playing tough defense.”

So, Jackson was talking defense Thursday. “It’s just a matter of wanting to do it, whether it’s individual defense or team defense. You’ve got to work at it in practice because if you don’t do it in practice, you’re not going to do it in a game. It isn’t that hard. If I could play defense, as slow as I am, anybody can.”

Perhaps the players will listen to Jackson, who had a 17-year career in which he had 10,334 assists; only John Stockton and Jason Kidd have more.

But the Warriors don’t have the two main ingredients for good team defense: a big man blocking shots in the middle and guards who can stop — or at least slow down — the opposing offense out front.

The physical and emotional problems of Andris Biedrens have drastically reduced his effectiveness.

“I see a player who was developing into a big rebounder and shot blocker and finishing shots at the basket,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen good players who took a jolt [to their confidence] and became just average. We have to see what we can do to build up his confidence.”

Last year’s No. 1 draft pick, Ekpe Udoh, showed flashes, but the Warriors still don’t know whether he should be a center or power forward. Basketball people think David Lee is better suited to being the sixth man, but he’s the starting power forward because the Warriors have nobody better.

The backcourt has two undersized guards, point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Monta Ellis, which isn’t working well. When the 6-foot-5 Baron Davis was the point guard, he could defend the shooting guard on the other team and Ellis could take the smaller point guard. Now, he has to take the shooting guard and he’s frequently overpowered.

There have been rumors that Ellis would be traded — though Riley said there are no untouchables on the roster, Curry is the least likely player to be traded — but nothing appears to be imminent.

In fact, though Riley wouldn’t talk specifics, it’s unlikely that there will be significant trades or free-agent signings. This year’s free agent group is an unremarkable one, so significant help probably won’t come until next year’s draft, expected to be a good one because more college players stayed put, no doubt aware that an NBA season might not happen.

So, Riley talked often Thursday of a bright future. But the present? Probably more of the Nelson pattern, an exciting offensive team but without the defense to get to the playoffs.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at glenndickey36@gmail.com.

Glenn DickeysportsWarriors

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The City has struggled to conduct outreach in some neighborhoods as it works to expand Slow Streets — such as this section of Page Street in the Lower Haight — to underserved neighborhoods. <ins>(Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
SFMTA delays vote on Bayview Slow Streets, approves five others in ‘underserved’ areas

SFMTA struggles to conduct outreach in neighborhoods with lower internet access

Stern Grove Festival organizers are planning to bring back the popular summer concert series — The Isley Brothers show in 2019 is pictured — with limited audience capacity. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Indoor shows won’t be flooding SF stages soon but Stern Grove might be back in June

While San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that live performances may resume… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto  (47) started on Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 9, 2021. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants welcome fans back with strong performance by Cueto

By Ethan Kassel Special to S.F. Examiner ORACLE PARK — The first… Continue reading

James Harbor appears in court after he was arrested on charges in the July 4th shooting death of 6-year-old Jace Young on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Murder case heads to trial over killing of 6-year-old Jace Young

Hearing reveals new details in ‘horrific’ Fourth of July shooting

BART passengers may see more frequent service by this fall. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART service increases possible as soon as September

Proposal would double weekday, daytime trains and extend system operating hours

Most Read