Thu., Nov. 8 on TNT: Mavericks at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET

Ten Things the Warriors Need to Have a Successful Season

1. Qualify for The 2008 NBA Playoffs
This may seem an obvious statement, but it is so very true for the Warriors this season. After not making the playoffs for 12 straight years, the Warriors won nine of their last 10 games to grab the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. But it didn't just end there. They proceeded to knock off the No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks in six games.

They eventually lost to the Utah Jazz in the next round, but "We Believe" had become a fixed slogan in the Bay Area. Expectations are extremely high for this year's team, and that produces a lot of pressure for them to at least duplicate what they accomplished last year. Not qualifying for a playoff berth would definitely disappoint the entire Bay Area, not to mention the 5,000 new season ticket holders.

2. Survive the First Seven Games Without Stephen Jackson
The Warriors are without the services of Stephen Jackson for the first seven games of the season due to a mandated suspension by the league office. That means playing five games against teams that won at least 50 games last year, including Dallas (67 games won), Utah (twice), and Cleveland (NBA Finals).

The funny thing about Stephen Jackson is that, while he has a negative reputation around the league, he is a terrific teammate and leader. He just may be their best all-around ballplayer. He is so important to this team for many reasons. He is their best individual defender, while possessing the ability to make 3's, drive and finish, get to the free throw line, lead the fast break, and is a terrific passer. He is very unselfish and has a good grasp of the game. He is certainly a risk taker, but what the heck, so was I. I really like him ... on and off the court. Playing without him to start the season is a severe handicap.

3. Keep Baron Davis Healthy
Baron is the catalyst for this team. The entire roster feeds off his energy. It is imperative for him to play in as many games as possible. I don't believe the Warriors can have real success unless Baron plays at least 65-70 games at a minimum. He has only been able to play more than 65 games just once over the past five years. He relishes the role of a leader and the team can only be as good as he can play on any given night.

What Baron accomplished in last year's playoff rum was something for the ages. But that was last year. He has to play at a high level for the entire season. And that is a lot to ask of someone who plays with such reckless abandon. He also must defer to some of the younger players at times and allow them to develop and assume some responsibility.

4. Continue The Growth Of Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis, and Kelenna Azubuike
These three players are part of a core group that Don Nelson can build around for the future. Andris Biedrins had a break out year last season and nearly averaged a double-double. He played in all 82 games and was third in the league in field goal percentage (.599). He has terrific hands and quick feet. Plus he has a good feel for the game. He comes every night to play at his optimum level. I would like to see his offensive game expand some this year. He has a good rapport with Baron and they play the 2 man game extremely well.

Monta Ellis was the NBA's most improved player last season while he averaged 16.5 ppg. He is blessed with blazing speed and unstoppable quickness. He might be the fastest player in the league with the ball in his hands. He has to learn how to use that speed and quickness to his advantage and become more efficient. Don Nelson would like him to evolve into a point guard and that transition is proving difficult for Monta. He is mistake prone and has been solely a scorer all his life. He also must improve his perimeter shot in order to become more of a scoring threat.

Kelenna Azubuike has the ability to become a tremendous player in this league. He can really do everything. He can shoot from the outside (.430 on 3's last year), can get to the free throw line (and make them), can handle the ball, is a good rebounder, and is a solid defender. He is off to the best start of any player on the roster this year. You will be hearing a lot about this young man in the years ahead.

Andris is 21 years of age, Monta just turned 22, and Kelenna will be 24 in December. They are all going to get a lot of playing time. Their development will have a big influence on the Warriors' success in the 2007-2008 season.

5. Pass The Mental Toughness Test
How is this team going to handle adversity? It is the third youngest team in the league and off to a 0-3 start. Two 10-year veterans (Austin Croshere and Troy Hudson) are out with injuries now, and minus Stephen Jackson for 4 more games, this team has to pull together and get an identity. They have got to do it themselves and with the personnel at hand. Also, when everyone is back and healthy, they have to be able to withstand the ups and downs that an NBA season brings.

Are they up to task? I have always felt that the most important asset a player can possess is his mental toughness. This team cannot afford to be fragile in any way. They have a small margin of error whenever they play. They must believe that last year was deserved and work together as a team to share in success.

6. Play Better Defense
Right now, the Warriors allow more opposition points than anyone in the league. They must work to become better individual defenders. Don Nelson has had to go to a zone defense much of the time because of their defensive liabilities. There is no short cut except hard work and determination to alter this situation. Players can also get a little smarter and understand spacing, ball position, and study opponents' strengths to improve at the defensive end. Right now they are simply too generous in that regard.

7. Find A Secondary Rebounder
This is a team built upon speed and quick striking ability. One of their biggest weaknesses is rebounding. Andris Biedrins does a great job, but often he is an island battling alone. Al Harrington has gotten better (urged on by Nelson), but someone else has to emerge or a trade could certainly alleviate the situation.

I believe they might have the answer in Brandon Wright. He was acquired from Charlotte in the Jason Richardson trade. With only one year of college ball, he just turned 20. He is a skinny 6'10" with a very long wingspan. I think he is a real sleeper who is going to get his chance. He is a quick learner and can simply make basketball plays for you ... particularly at the defensive end. He is going to become a good shot blocker and I think he could be the answer to help solve the rebound ineptness. He may be the type of player that gets on the court and does so many good things in the flow of the game, that it's hard to take him off. I like him and I think the Warriors need him to be able to play at a high level as soon as possible.

8. Protect Their Home Court
The Warriors were 30-11 last year at home. They have to continue to dominate at Oracle Arena. They managed to beat the best teams in the league at home, and that should bolster their confidence this year. It wouldn't hurt to show signs of being able to win on the road as well. The very good teams manage to win their fair share of road games in this league. But right now they have to maintain home court advantage.

They get help from the amazing support the fans have given them over the years. Last year's fans during the playoffs were the loudest and most enthusiastic I have witnessed in my forty plus years around the NBA. People tell me the playoff games were the greatest sporting events they had ever been to. That kind of support helps a young and emotional team.

9. The Transition Game and Threes
This is a team that has to play transition basketball. That's easier said than done when you are not a good rebounding team. Don Nelson allows anyone to initially bring the ball down the court. His big men are instructed to dribble out and initiate a break by passing ahead. The Warriors small margin of error in games forces them to get easy baskets in transition.

While they led the league in fast break points last year, they may not all be layups, however. This team shoots any open shot in transition or early offense much better than in a half court situation. That includes their three point dependence. The Warriors attempted more threes than any other team, so you know they are going to shoot them. It's just that they are more accurate in an up tempo style of game.

10. Keep Their Focus Against the Better Teams
The Warriors have to take last year's experience and build upon that success in many areas in the 2007-2008 season. That includes keeping emotions under control. This is one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch. They play with great emotion and spirit. However, that can be a weakness at times. During the playoff run, several technical fouls were called and even a late-game ejection was enforced against Stephen Jackson.

There will be no surprises from the Warriors this year. Teams know they are a dangerous team and that they have to be ready to play them. They must maintain their poise and composure in order to compete with the elite teams in this league. It seems the Warriors often play with a chip on their shoulder when facing a proven opponent. That's all well and good if they play under control. The good teams know their abilities and go about their business in a pragmatic and practical way. That's the appearance I get from San Antonio, Phoenix, Utah, Dallas, and Detroit to name a few. The Warriors would do well to follow that example.

Jim Barnett enters his 23rd season as the Warriors television analyst in 2007-08. A self-proclaimed gym rat who still finds time to work on his jump shot, Barnett continues a deep-rooted passion for the game of basketball. He showed it on the court during an 11-year NBA career and now shares his passion with viewers as the Warriors color commentator. Once again this season, Barnett will join Bob Fitzgerald in broadcasting 70 Warriors games on FSN Bay Area, while also providing color commentary to selected Warriors radio broadcasts, working alongside Tim Roye when games are not televised.

In addition to his broadcast work, Barnett plays an active role on a variety of television and radio programs throughout the basketball season. He serves as a co-host on various Warriors programs, including "Warriors Live" pregame shows on FSN Bay Area and all of KNBR's postgame shows. Active in the community, Barnett also entertains a number of speaking engagements throughout the greater Bay Area during the year, including several guest appearances at Warriors Basketball Camp sessions.