Mullin, Nelson hope to get the Warriors back to the playoffs
(Sports Network) – Golden State’s executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin made a bold move during the offseason, and it didn’t involve trading his best player.
Veteran head coach Don Nelson has returned to the bench for Golden State. Nelson, who was general of the Warriors for six-plus seasons beginning in 1988, compiled a 277-260 record with the squad before resigning halfway through the 1994-95 season. The 66-year-old Nelson takes over for Mike Montgomery, who parted ways with the Warriors despite still having two years left on a four-year contract. Montgomery had been the Warriors head coach the previous two seasons and posted a disappointing record of 68-96.
Mullin did not make any big trades or major free agent signings during the offseason. Obviously he thinks the talent to be a winning team already exists on Golden State’s roster. Mullin’s hope is that Nelson can put it all together and help the Warriors stop their playoff drought.
The 2005-06 season started off great for the Warriors, who won 12 of their first 18 games and looked like they were going to have a serious chance of making it back to the playoffs for the first time since 1994. However, it was not meant to be. Golden State started to lose games in bunches and finished the campaign with a dismal 34-48 record.
On paper, Golden State has a lot of talent. Baron Davis and 25-year-old Jason Richardson makeup a dynamic backcourt, while Ike Diogu, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy are solid forwards. Guards Monta Ellis, Mickael Pietrus and centers Adonal Foyle and Andris Biedris give the Warriors depth.
Richardson led the Warriors in scoring (23.2 ppg) during the 2005-06 campaign, while Murphy was the team’s top rebounder (10.0 rpg) and Davis dished out a team-best 8.9 assists per game. Davis also averaged 17.9 points per game and Murphy netted 14.0 per contest.
The 26-year-old Dunleavy registered 11.5 points per game in his fourth year in the league, while Diogu averaged 7.0 points and 3.3 boards in 69 games during his rookie campaign.
Ellis, 21, is entering his second year in the league. He contributed 6.8 points, 2.1 boards and 1.6 assists last season. The 6-3 Ellis can play both spots in the backcourt and will get his chance to show his stuff with the departure of Derek Fisher, who was trade to the Utah Jazz during the offseason.
Bradley product Patrick O’Bryant was selected with the ninth overall pick in the draft by Golden State. He is raw and is considered a project. His impact on the team probably won’t be felt for a few years, as he will have to compete with Biedrins and Foyle for playing time.
Nelson has a tough job ahead of him. It has been a long time since Golden State sniffed the postseason. The Warriors have tried with their current nucleus and Mullin may be close to closing the window on trying to win with his squad.
It may be hard for Warriors’ fans to accept, but the right move may be to tear it apart and start to re-build once again. However, the hiring of an experienced coach like Nelson indicates that Mullin is willing to give it one more try with Davis, Dunleavy, Murphy and Richardson leading the way.