Wednesday , Nov , 02 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Warriors open 2005-06 campaign with high hopes

=== Warriors open 2005-06 campaign with high hopes ===

(Sports Network) – The Golden State Warriors have dreams of postseason play,
as they start the 2005-06 campaign against the Atlanta Hawks at The Arena in
Oakland.

The Warriors have won six straight and eight of their last 12 against the
Hawks. Atlanta has lost three in a row at Golden State. The last time the
Hawks defeated the Warriors was on March 11, 2002 at Atlanta.

It was an uneventful offseason for the Warriors, who finished just 34-48 last
season under first year head coach Mike Montgomery and did not qualify for the
postseason for the 11th straight year.

The Warriors big move for the 2005-06 season was the acquisition of two-time
All-Star guard Baron Davis at last year’s trade deadline. Davis, who was
acquired from the New Orleans Hornets for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis. The
26-year-old Baron Davis played 28 contests for the Warriors and averaged 19.5
points and 8.5 assists per game.

Golden State’s executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin
may have added the missing ingredient to the recipe for a playoff berth when
he acquired Baron Davis. Mullin has put together a young, talented roster that
also includes forwards Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy and high-flying guard
Jason Richardson.

The 24-year-old Richardson is coming off his best season as a pro. He played
in 72 games in the 2004-05 campaign, and averaged a team-best 21.7 points to
go along with 5.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. The Michigan State
product, who will be entering his fifth year in the NBA, also shot a career-
best 44.6 percent from the floor.

Dunleavy and the 25-year-old Murphy continue to grow as a forward tandem. Last
season, Dunleavy registered a career-high 13.4 points per game, while Murphy
played in 70 contests and averaged a double-double with 15.4 points and a
team-best 10.8 boards.

Golden State added forward Ike Diogu with the ninth overall pick in the 2005
NBA Draft. The 6-8 Diogu will spell Murphy and will also play alongside him.
Diogu is very athletic and should help the Warriors on both ends of the court.
However, Diogu (hand) is starting the new campaign on the inactive list.

Mullin has provided Montgomery with a solid roster to work with. The nucleus
of Baron Davis, Dunleavy, Murphy and Richardson will continue to grow together
and Diogu is expected to make an impact in his first year in the league.

The Warriors continue their season on Friday, as they will host Andrei
Kirlienko and the Utah Jazz.

It’s six years and counting for the Hawks, who did not qualify for the
postseason once again in 2004-05. They won a league-low 13 games under first-
year head coach Mike Woodson.

Atlanta enters the 2005-06 season after it suffered a tragic loss on October
15th, as center Jason Collier passed away suddenly the age of 28. He played a
career-high 70 games last season and averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per
contest.

On a brighter note, there actually may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Atlanta had a strong draft, as it selected North Carolina forward Marvin
Williams with the second overall pick and Arizona guard Salim Stoudamire with
the first pick in round two. The Hawks also grabbed Cenk Akyol in the second
round with the 59th overall selection.

Williams and Stoudamire may find themselves in the starting lineup on opening
night. The 6-9 Williams should be able to play both forward spots and will fit
in well alongside Al Harrington, while Stoudamire is a solid ballhandler who
can shoot the lights out from the outside. The impact of these two rookies
will be felt immediately, as Williams makes the Hawks more athletic and
Stoudamire will improve their perimeter game.

The Hawks made some more noise in the offseason, as they acquired 24-year-old
shooting guard Joe Johnson from the Phoenix Suns for Boris Diaw and a pair of
conditional first-round picks in a controversial sign-and-trade deal. Atlanta
invested heavily in Johnson, who reportedly got a five-year contract worth
around $70 million.

Restricted free agent center/forward Zaza Pachulia also became a member of the
Hawks when the Milwaukee Bucks did match the offer made by Atlanta. Guard
Tyronn Lue, who was an unrestricted free agent, decided to re-sign with the
club.

General manager Billy Knight is trying to build for the future. He has put
together a young roster that also has guard Josh Childress and high-flying
forward Josh Smith. Childress and Smith had decent showings last season in
their rookie campaigns. Childress, who made 47 percent of his shots from the
field, averaged 10.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 80 contests, while Smith
registered 9.7 points and 6.2 boards in 74 games. The two youngsters will be
asked to increase their production and play more minutes during their second
seasons in the league.

Atlanta will put its dismal showing last season behind it and move forward.
The Hawks know that they are not going to become a playoff team over night.
This team is a work in progress and any kind of improvement in 2005-06 will be
a step in the right direction.

ATL GSW