Monday , Apr , 04 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Points in the Paint

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The Golden State Warriors won’t make
the playoffs for an 11th straight year, but the future does look bright for
the franchise.

The Warriors made a huge acquisition on February 24th, which was the NBA’s
trade deadline, as they traded guard Speedy Claxton and center/forward Dale
Davis to the New Orleans Hornets for two-time All-Star guard Baron Davis. By
acquiring Baron Davis, Golden State has a nucleus that consists of the former
Hornet, high-flying Jason Richardson, and forwards Troy Murphy and Mike
Dunleavy.

Since the trade with New Orleans, the Warriors, who are just 28-45 overall and
have nine games left on their schedule, are 12-7 and are currently on a
season-high five-game winning streak. Golden State will play six of its final
contests at The Arena in Oakland where they have won 15 of its 35 games in the
2004-05 campaign.

Golden State’s offense has been much more efficient since Baron Davis joined
the club. The Warriors have scored 100 or more points in 11 of the 19 games he
has played in, and have not reached the 90-point mark in just three contests
since the trade.

Baron Davis has averaged 17.2 points and 7.5 assists since becoming a Warrior.
He has jelled very well with his new teammates and the results are starting to
show in the standings. Originally selected out of UCLA after his sophomore
season by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round (third pick overall) of the
1999 NBA Draft, the 6-3 guard fits right in with head coach Mike Montgomery’s
system.

With Baron Davis, Dunleavy, Murphy and Richardson, executive vice president
of basketball operations Chris Mullin has something to build around. Baron
Davis, who will turn 26 on April 13th, is the oldest of the four players.

The 24-year-old Dunleavy, who is playing in his third season in the league,
has continued to improve as he gains more experience. He is averaging a
career-high 13.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists this season. His
confidence is at an all-time high and his statistical numbers will continue to
climb as he plays with a more talented roster.

Murphy, who has battled some nagging injuries over the past two seasons, is
having the best season of his four-year career. The Notre Dame product has
started 59 of the 60 games he has appeared in the 2004-05 campaign, and is
averaging a double-double at 15.6 points and 11.1 rebounds, which leads the
club. The 24-year-old Murphy, who will turn 25 on May 2nd, has scored in
double-digits in 45 contests and has registered 30 double-doubles.

The cornerstone of the franchise is the 24-year-old Richardson, who was
selected out of Michigan State after his sophomore season by Golden State in
the first round (fifth pick overall) of the 2001 NBA Draft. He leads the team
in scoring (22.1 ppg), is second in rebounds (6.1 rpg) and third in assists
(4.0 apg). The athletic Richardson is one of the most exciting players in the
NBA, as his thunderous dunks and explosive offensive moves are worth the price
of admission.

Mullin has four pieces of the puzzle in place. There is still a lot of work to
be done, as Golden State could still use a force in the middle to go along
with some more role players for the frontcourt. Veteran Derek Fisher and 23-
year-old Mickael Pietrus are solid reserve guards and can be part of a winning
formula.

Richardson and Baron Davis give Golden State one of the most exciting, young
backcourts in the league. The two players complement each other extremely
well, as both excel in the open court and should make the Warriors’ transition
game deadly. Murphy and Dunleavy could be two-thirds of a very effective
frontcourt, if Mullin can get a center who can rebound and score in the low
post.

Golden State will try to fill the voids that it has left on its roster in the
offseason through the draft, free agency and trades. Many questioned Mullin’s
moves when he first took over in Golden State on April 22, 2004, but it
appears that he has the franchise moving in the right direction.

The Warriors are starting to play winning basketball and the hope is that it
will carry over into the 2005-06 season. There is finally a light at the end
of the tunnel for Golden State.