The Golden State Warriors kick-off our Pacific Division previews. You can read past previews here.
by Holly MacKenzie
NOTE: This is not a typical preview. The Warriors are not a typical team. If this upsets you greatly, please blame Monta’s ankle. Thanks.
The only thing constant in life (and in the NBA as a microcosm of life), is change. This we know. When it comes to the NBA in particular, there are a few more things that we know in addition to the change rule. We know LeBron James will amaze us nightly, KG will mutter more ‘motherfuckers’ in two-and-a-half hours than most of us will in a lifetime, Sheed will redefine the beat of everyone’s drum and somehow the Spurs always end up better than we would think.
Another thing we know is this: I fall in love easily. Especially when the NBA is concerned. Last year I feel pretty hard. No, not for Kobe or even for Chris, I’m talking about the Golden State Warriors here.
Nellie. Jax. Monta. Baron. Biedrins. Even Belinelli. Of course it started with their ridiculous playoff run the season before, taking down the Mavericks. The team’s play inspired lust in its finest form, to the point where I allowed those precious words to tumble from my lips unable to catch them before they fell, exposing me and my insatiable thirst for all things Golden. I called the Warriors my team, my boys and eventually, spoke of them as “we”. That’s when I knew – I was in too deep.
Of course with lust or love, there is the vulnerability to get hurt. Stomped on. Broken. Whatever you want to call it. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew this would happen with my Golden State affair. They were simply too perfect to be real. And we all know what we’ve been taught about things like that.
They don’t last.
After two seasons of unadulterated exuberance, the door was being slammed in my face and it was Baron Davis himself who was letting it close. Boom. Was. Out.
Okay. So now we have Monta, Jax and crew.
Only we don’t. Thanks to an ankle and some lies, the fate of the Warriors now, well, it isn’t looking so good.
And I am frustrated. And I am only speaking from Lakerland. I can only imagine what the people of the Bay feel like shouting. Why did Baron have to leave? Monta have to get injured? Maggette have to be presented as something to soften the blow because we all know he isn’t the answer to Boom’s absence. How is this team going to pick up where it left off when two of its big three are gone and half of its heart has hightailed it home to LA?
I don’t know who they are anymore. Baron’s passion and Jax’s emotion fuelled the rest of the players on this team to accomplish great things. I feel like that girl Meredith, roaming around the hospital with a broken heart because all I can hear floating through my head is a line from a Grey’s Anatomy preview. This team was extraordinary together, but only ordinary apart.
With Stephen Jackson having to pick up a lot of the slack and gel with new additions Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf and Marcus Williams, one wonders if he will be able to maintain the energy level he is known for and sustain it over the course of a season. Jax is undeniably the leader of this team now. When things go awry, will he be able to keep it together or will he try to hot potato the pressure, in the same way he has a tendency to toss shots up at the basket when it seems convenient.
I’m sitting here trying to give you answers, but I don’t even know the questions. I can’t help but wonder what I was drinking when I volunteered to write this preview. Perhaps I was hung-over on my love for the team or maybe I was still in shock over the altered roster, but here I am, and I’ve got nothing.
Maybe the easiest way to do this is to write down what we do know, as opposed to focusing on the crushing weight of all that is unknown heading into this season.
Things we know for sure about the 2008-2009 Golden State Warriors:
1-Baron Davis, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Kosta Perovic and Patrick O’Bryant will all be suiting up elsewhere this season.
2- Corey Maggette, Marcus Williams and Ronny Turiaf will be joining the boys in the Bay.
3- Rookies Richard Hendrix, Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph will likely see lots of time on the bench, even on a year like this, where they may be needed.
4- Andris Biedrins has a lot resting on his ability to outjump, outreach and outhustle his opponents on the glass this season. He also needs to figure out a way to cut down his fouls and stay in the game because his team is going to need more than 27 mpg from him this year.
5- Al Harrington is going to need to up his rebounding average from last year’s 5.4 per game if he wants to keep a lock on his minutes.
6- Corey Maggette will not make up for the loss of Baron and half of a season without Monta. He will provide much more than just scoring and tough defense. A solid guy to have in the locker room, Maggette will hopefully help Jackson by taking some of the younger guys under his wing.
7- Maggette and Jackson will have lots of shots between the two of them and luckily for Golden State both can create their own. This will help to take pressure off of Marcus Williams.
8- Kelenna Azubuike, who was wooed by the Clippers and re-signed by the Warriors, gets his shot to become an integral part of this rotation as his size and athleticism is going to be valuable in the up-tempo game Golden State plays.
9- Marcus Williams is going to get his chance to play big minutes, and he needs to be in tip-top shape by the start of season if he has any hopes of proving himself.
10- It is going to be fun watching Marco Belinelli compete with Jackson and Maggette for most field goals attempted per minute. It will also be fun to see how Nellie handles this.
11- CJ Watson is back after being called up from the D-League last season, and he will be looking to take those available point guard minutes and turn them into his proof of NBA legitimacy.
12 – With so many unknowns, one thing that will help the Warriors is the that their offense can be so hard to match up against. Relying so heavily on transition and free-form basketball, their opponents can match them upfront and hope their primary scorers have off nights.
13- Rookie Anthony Randolph is coming off of a great summer league where he wowed spectators with his athleticism and ball handling skills. Too bad Nellie isn’t one to put much stock in his rookies.
14 – Ronny Turiaf’s limitless energy and positivity on the bench will be needed in Golden State this season.
While there are good things in this list, at the end of the day there are far too many question marks. With that being said, these past few years, the Warriors have thrived while being cast the role of underdog. Stephen has embraced that role his entire career. Maybe these guys will find a way to pull together, grow together and surprise us all again. I can only hope, because I feel like the girl that fell for the guy who appeared too good to be true, only to have the rug pulled from beneath me.
And here I am, trying to decide if their magical run was only a dream disguising a reality that is severely lacking.
I miss my old Warriors.
* Okay, the team isn’t awful, but was dealt several crushing blows. Thanks to Sam Rubenstein for introducing me to the wonders of the “clusterfuck.”