Friday , Oct , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Golden State Warriors 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – Veteran head coach Don Nelson has returned to the bench
for the Golden State Warriors. 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.

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.

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. Mickael Pietrus and centers Adonal Foyle and Andris Biedrins
give the Warriors depth.

Richardson led the Warriors in scoring (23.2 ppg), 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.

Bradley center Patrick O’Bryant was selected with the ninth overall pick in
the draft by Golden State, while veteran guard Derek Fisher was traded during
the offseason to the Utah Jazz.

Executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin didn’t like how
the team was performing under Montgomery and made a needed change. Nelson will
try and breathe new life into the Warriors. There is talent but someone
needs to find a way to put it all together. Is Nelson the man to do it?

BACKCOURT

Davis and Richardson are an exciting tandem. However, the 27-year-old Davis,
who is entering his eighth season in the league, needs to stay healthy for
them to have the full impact that the Warriors need. Both excel in a an up-
tempo game and are electric in the open court.

With Fisher no longer on the roster, Golden State will be counting heavily on
Pietrus, who averaged 9.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 51 contests, and Monta
Ellis. The 24-year-old Pietrus can also play small forward and will backup
Richardson.

Twenty-one-year-old Ellis 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 Fisher.

FRONTCOURT

There is a ton of potential here. Murphy has been consistent and gives the
Warriors scoring in the low post. However, Golden State is still waiting for
Dunleavy to find some consistency and become more of a scorer.

The 6-9 Dunleavy, who was originally selected out of Duke by Golden State in
the first round (third overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft, has a career-average of
10.5 points in 317 outings. Dunleavy has made 43.0 percent of his shots from
the floor including 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Warriors need more
from their former first-round pick.

Diogu, who will get a big increase in playing time this season, should
continue to improve during his sophomore season, while Biedrins, Foyle and
O’Bryant will compete for playing time in the middle. Pietrus and Richardson
should get time at small forward when Dunleavy is on the pine.

OUTLOOK

Mullin hired Nelson to get the Warriors back to the postseason. There is
talent on the roster, but it doesn’t seem like it is the right mix. If the
team doesn’t buy into Nelson’s system and show signs that they can compete
for a playoff berth, Mullin will most likely try and shakeup the roster big
time during the season.

Another below .500 record and a ticket for the lottery is what seems to be in
the Warriors’ future. If that happens, look for Mullin to shop Davis,
Dunleavy, Murphy and Richardson. He won’t trade them all, but two of Golden
State’s best players could be in new uniforms before season’s end.

GSW