By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com
Posted Dec 19 2011 11:00AM
New beginnings they have down. New beginnings and scoring. New beginnings and coaching subplots. New beginnings and lottery picks. The Warriors have it covered.
There is nothing different in that regard on the doorstep of 2011-12, and that is a good thing. Joe Lacob has been around for one season and has spent enough to demand more than months of excuses.
Mark Jackson has been around for one offseason and has risked personal embarrassment enough to expect more than the usual defense with a red cape and watching the back of the playoff pack from a distance.
The time for talking is over, at last. The way Lacob and the collective new ownership group has spent and aggressively searched out roster upgrades the last year and a half, the way Jackson promised the playoffs in 2012 after Golden State missed the postseason by 10 games a season ago, the Warriors have finally reached a land of zero tolerance.
What happens in the event of another letdown is not clear. Barring a complete disaster, Jackson will not be fired after one season. Big names may get traded, but that was a possibility as far back as late June, when the lottery pick spent on Klay Thompson meant a third scoring guard on the roster. The threat was there again into the delayed training camp, when every name was discussed as the Warriors tried to maneuver major deals.
There is a pressure with the latest fresh start, though, an immediacy that has not existed in years.
"Nothing's going to change," Jackson said of his initial postseason proclamation. "We're not going to be an excuse team. We're a no-nonsense team that's not going to look to make any explanations why we didn't accomplish. We're going to find a way to go get it done. We will be a playoff basketball team."
Despite a coach who, though an NBA point guard for 17 years, has never coached, even as an assistant, at any level.
Despite a team that finished 28th in rebounding percentage and 21st in shooting defense and spent much of the post-lockout prep time trying to acquire a new center.
Despite the primary roster addition, Thompson, projected as a reserve at the most-secure position on the team.
"I can't really comment on what happened in the past because I wasn't part of this team," Jackson said. "I'm here, I'm here with a group of guys that I believe in, I'm here with a new ownership team, I'm here with a new management team. It's an exciting time. I really am not just hoping. I'm believing. I'm anticipating big things in this area."
He is the third coach in as many seasons, following Don Nelson's swervy road to No. 1 on the career win list and the battlefield promotion for Keith Smart just before the 2010 training camp. Smart made defense a priority as well, and little changed.
Along the way, the Warriors won 26 and 36 games and mostly got out of the way of opponents. Monta Ellis matured, backcourt partner Stephen Curry developed so well his first two seasons that the Hornets coveted him as the headliner in a discussed Chris Paul trade, David Lee signed for $80 million over six years, Ekpe Udoh showed defensive promise in his injury-shortened rookie season of 2010-11... and still nothing changed.
"I've been around seven years," Ellis said. "For seven years, it's been something new."
Of course, then he added: "You've just gotta come in and adjust to whatever adjustment that you need to do. Just look at the positives. It is a new beginning."
1. The return of Andris Biedrins. The Warriors need the center once considered a prominent part of the future, not the one who disappeared the last two seasons.
2. The backcourt. While Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry can play together, whether they will stay together or be broken up by trade remains to be seen.
3. The uncertainty. A slow start will undoubtedly prod management to keep searching for a big-name acquisition, which could become a spark or a distraction.
1. If Mark Jackson follows through on his promise to distribute playing time based on defense, it will be worth tracking whether Ekpe Udoh eats into David Lee's minutes.
2. Ellis tied for the second-highest shooting percentage of any guard in the top 20 in scoring, behind only Dwyane Wade, an especially impressive figure considering the volume of three-pointers.
3. Jackson will have an adjustment period as a first-time coach, because everyone does. How much adjustment could impact the Warriors in the standings.
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LAST YEAR: 36-46, 3rd in Pacific
FINISH: Missed playoffs
2010-11 TEAM LEADERS
|Complete 2010-11 Stats|
STEPHEN CURRY, POINT GUARD
18.6 PPG | 5.8 APG | 1.5 SPG
Electric young ballhandler improved as a playmaker in his second season. He can light it up and paired well with backcourt mate Ellis in an up-tempo style, but is more of a playmaker than Ellis is.
MONTA ELLIS, SHOOTING GUARD
24.1 PPG | 5.6 APG | 2.1 SPG
Can you say scoring machine? In 21 of 80 starts, had at least 30 points and had at least 40 six times. While his shooting philosophy fits into two simple words -- not shy -- he's one of the most exciting players to watch.
DORELL WRIGHT, SMALL FORWARD
16.4 PPG | 5.3 RPG | 31.7 3PT %
A versatile player and good defender, he had a breakout season and led the NBA in 3-pointers attempted (516). Unfortunately, that didn't help his rep for being un-aggressive around the basket.
DAVID LEE, POWER FORWARD
16.5 PPG| 9.8 RPG | 3.2 APG
Had 37 double-doubles, but he dealt with a bothersome elbow injury all season. He's coming off his worst shooting year ever and worst rebounding since his rookie season. Still, he's the Warriors' best threat in the paint.
ANDRIS BIEDRINS, CENTER
5.0 PPG | 7.2 RPG | .323 FG%
An ankle sprain slowed him at end of 2010-11. The Warriors are banking on stronger Biedrins -- who is often offensively challenged -- for a bounce-back season while providing some needed size around the hoop.
|Kwame Brown||6-11||245||C||Has a chance to push Biedrins for the starting job.|
|Klay Thompson||6-7||205||G||Son of former veteran big man Mychal Thompson provides another scoring threat.|
|Ekpe Udoh||6-10||245||F||Second-year power forward will provide defense coach Mark Jackson says is a priority.|
ADDED: C Kwame Brown, G Brandon Rush, G Klay Thompson, C Jeremy Tyler, G Charles Jenkins, F Chris Wright, F Dominic McGuire, G Ish Smith
LOST: F Vladimir Radmanovic, F Brandan Wright, G Reggie Williams, F Louis Amundson, G Jeremy Lin, G Charlie Bell (amnesty)
ANDRIS BIEDRINS, CENTER
He is getting $9 million a season, and he is getting grief. If the trash talking from fans and the media isn't enough, his unreliability became an official Warriors issue in the offseason as they searched for a replacement, from Jeremy Tyler in the draft in June to going hard after prominent free agents in December, before finally signing Kwame Brown. Biedrins recapturing his old form would be a big boost in Oakland.
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