2007-08 Season In Review
Golden State Warriors
When the sting of missing out on the 2008 NBA Playoffs dissipates, the 2007-08 season will go down as one of the most successful campaigns in Warriors history. The Warriors finished the season 48-34, their fourth-best record since the 1974-75 season, and were in the hunt for the postseason right up through
Following a thrilling 2006-07 campaign in which the Warriors made postseason history, the Warriors entered the 2007 Training Camp in Hawaii with higher expectations than any other Golden State squad from the previous decade; and it’d be safe to say that the team met or exceeded nearly every one of them.
Overall, Golden State showed tremendous improvement from its wildly successful 2006-07 season. Their record improved by six games, and they tallied nine more road wins than last season’s squad. In fact, the Warriors’ 21 road wins is tied for the third most in franchise history and the ninth most in the NBA this season.
As fans have become accustomed to in recent years, the Warriors played a fast-paced brand of basketball that thrilled basketball fans across the league. The highest-scoring team in the NBA at 111.0 points per game, Golden State also forced the most turnovers (16.9 per game). This high-octane style of play proved to be quite effective, as the Warriors tallied victories over every Western Conference opponent except Utah. In fact, the 2007-08 Warriors won their first season series with the Spurs since the 1996-97 season and split the season series with such Western powers as the
Under the direction of Head Coach Don Nelson, who now stands just 52 wins shy of the all-time wins record for a head coach, Golden State was led by the three-headed monster of Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson. Davis and Jackson each received All-Star consideration, and Ellis followed up his 2006-07 Most Improved Player season with yet another remarkable campaign. Davis (21.8 points per game), Ellis (20.2 ppg) and Jackson (20.1) became the first three NBA teammates to each average 20-plus points per game since the Warriors’ popular RUN TMC trio of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin during the 1990-91 campaign.
Playing his third full season with the Warriors, Davis proved to be a model of consistency and durability all season. He started all 82 games and led the team in scoring, assists and steals. Davis also tallied three triple-doubles on the season, joining Jason Kidd (13), LeBron James (7) and Caron Butler (3) as the only players to claim that honor during the 2007-08 campaign. In addition to putting up the numbers, Davis also came through when his teammates needed him most, like when he knocked down a late three-pointer to seal a dramatic 108-106 win over the Lakers on Dec. 14. Davis delivered in the clutch again on Feb. 20, when he drained a 20-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left to play in perhaps the team’s signature win of the season, a 119-117 thriller over Boston.
Like Davis, Ellis also spent plenty of time in the spotlight. The third-year guard from Jackson, Miss., accelerated his path to superstardom and became perhaps the most dangerous weapon in the Warriors arsenal. Ellis enjoyed a particularly hot stretch when he shot 60.2 percent from the field in February, becoming just the ninth guard in NBA history to shoot at least 60 percent for an entire month. A fan-favorite at ORACLE Arena, Ellis shot 53.1 percent for the season, ranking third among NBA guards.
Though Davis, Jackson and Ellis led the Warriors to their best record since the 1993-94 season, the team looked to be anything but successful after the first two weeks of the season. After a 5-2 preseason, Golden State stumbled out of the gates and dropped its first six games before posting a 122-105 victory over the Clippers on Nov. 16.
After the slow start, however, the tide changed drastically, and few were left wondering why. Jackson, who served an NBA-mandated seven-game suspension to start the season, returned to the club on Nov. 18, and before the first full month of the season ended, the Warriors sported a winning record, marking the fastest turnaround in NBA history from an 0-6 start to a plus-.500 record.
The 2007-08 campaign wound up being a banner season for Jackson, who was the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week for games played between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2. Playing his first full season with the Warriors, the nine-year NBA veteran established career-highs in scoring and minutes and was hand-picked by Head Coach Don Nelson to be one of the team’s tri-captains, along with Baron Davis and Matt Barnes. That decision raised a lot of eyebrows around the league, but not so much in the Bay Area, where his coaches, teammates, the media and fans quickly learned how valuable a leader Captain Jack could be. Jackson's positive influence stretched beyond the confines of the court, as he was the recipient of the Eighth Annual Angela and Christopher Cohan Community Service Award.
Jackson’s return to the team proved to be a turning point for the season. Upon joining the club as it started a five-game road trip in Toronto, the Warriors immediately began playing better basketball. Golden State would go 4-1 on the road trip, capped off by Kelenna Azubuike knocking down a game-winning three-pointer in the closing seconds of Nov. 24’s 100-98 overtime win in Philadelphia. Azubuike’s game-winner sealed a historic road trip for the Warriors, who had last posted a winning record on a road trip of five games or more in December of 1980.
Success on the road became quite common for the Warriors, as they posted winning records on each of their first five extended road trips of three games or more. That kind of success continued at home as well, where the Warriors established a new franchise single-season attendance record, drawing 804,864 fans to ORACLE Arena. Golden State sold out 32 of 41 home dates this season with an average of 19,631 fans per game, and all that support from the ORACLE Arena faithful had a role in the Warriors going 27-14 at home.
Regardless of the venue, the Warriors were a consistent bunch in terms of wins and losses. Golden State enjoyed winning records in each full month of the season (November through March) and lost consecutive games just three times following the team’s 0-6 start.
Among those matching the team’s consistency was Andris Biedrins. The fourth-year Warriors center enjoyed another solid campaign in which he led the NBA in field goal percentage (.626). Although an emergency appendectomy temporarily derailed his season in late February and early March, Biedrins eventually recovered and finished the season playing some of the best basketball of his young career, as he averaged 16.0 points and 15.7 rebounds over the final seven games of the season.
As Biedrins closed out the season with a barrage of double-doubles, Al Harrington continued his solid play. The 10th-year forward with a soft shooting touch averaged 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the season and he helped stretch out opposing defenses as the team’s leading three-point shooter. With Jackson suspended to start the season, Harrington stepped up and tallied four 20-point efforts, including a season-high 38 points at Utah on Nov. 3.
But Harrington wasn’t the only one to pick up his game in Jackson’s absence, as Kelenna Azubuike picked up the slack as well. The former D-Leaguer scored a career-high 33 points in the second game of the season against the Clippers and added a 27-point, 11-rebound effort against Dallas on Nov. 8. After working his way into the Opening Night starting lineup with a stellar training camp, Azubuike had a breakout season with averages of 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds on the season.
Though Azubuike started 17 games this season, he mostly thrived coming off the bench in Coach Nelson’s rotation, and he wasn’t alone in doing so. After getting off to a slow start, Mickael Pietrus picked it up toward the end of the season and wound up being a key contributor down the stretch, averaging 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds over his final 15 games of the season. Tri-captain Matt Barnes also had his moments during the 2007-08 season, as did fellow veteran Austin Croshere. A strong rebounder who can still get it done on both ends of the floor after 11 years in the NBA, Croshere provided valuable minutes to the Warriors throughout the season.
The Warriors also recieved contributions from some of their young guns, as Marco Belinelli, C.J. Watson, Brandan Wright and Patrick O’Bryant each showed they have a solid foundation to build on for next season. With their ongoing development and the continued high level of play from the likes of Davis, Ellis, Jackson and Biedrins, the Warriors look to be in solid position as they brace for the future. A successful season in the books, the Warriors will be going for bigger and brighter things in the 2008-09 season and beyond.