Updated: Oct. 27, 2005, 7:29 AM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Warriors: Believe the hype?

Warriors

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Golden State Warriors finish in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference? Get 12 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST DIV CONF COMMENT

Chris Broussard ESPN Mag

4
12
Last year's season-ending run was a dream; now it's back to the years-long nightmare.
Ric Bucher ESPN Mag
5
10
They will be both exciting and inconsistent. Don't compare them to Phoenix, because they don't have those kind of shooters or athletic big men. They'll flirt with .500, but not the playoffs.
John Carroll Scouts Inc.
4
10
Baron Davis and Jason Richardson give the Warriors one of the NBA's most athletic and talented backcourts. Troy Murphy has been the frontcourt anchor. If the Warriors stay healthy, especially Davis, they are my surprise team.
Chad Ford ESPN Insider
2
6
Finally. With a backcourt of Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, plus Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy in the frontcourt and a talented (albeit young) bench, the Warriors should make the playoffs and lead the league in scoring.
John Hollinger ESPN Insider
2
8
One of the league's most exciting young teams may squeeze into a playoff spot to end a decade-plus of suffering. The keys will be Baron Davis's health and the speed of the kids' progress.
Scoop Jackson ESPN
Page 2

4
8

The dark horses. Best draft. Best balance. Will make the playoffs.


Tim Legler ESPN Insider
5
14

See Item 7 for Legler's analysis of the Golden State Warriors.



Eric Neel ESPN
Page 2


4
10
I should probably have them higher. I love what I've seen of Baron Davis so far this summer/fall, and Diogu and Biedrins are going to be fun to watch. They're a high-risk/high-reward bet.
Jim O'Brien ESPN Insider
5
13
Baron Davis makes the Warriors a lethal perimeter team in Mike Montgomery's second year. They must improve their ability to score near the rim. Concerns on the glass and getting some free throws must be addressed.
Will Perdue ESPN Insider
5
12
Will be fighting with the left-outs for lottery position. Still, I would pay money to watch this team. They will keep it exciting for their fans, but you must play for the full 48 minutes to get the win.
Chris Sheridan ESPN Insider
3
8
Chris Mullin, ball's in your court. You've assembled the West's best backcourt, but you've got to dig out from the Foyle and Fisher fiascoes. Can either of those contracts be moved for value? An upgrade up front gets them into the playoffs.
Marc Stein ESPN.com
4
9
The Warriors are widely considered the West's sleeper team after 11 straight seasons out of the playoffs. But let's be honest. As good as Baron Davis looks back in California, would it really be a shocker if Golden State missed out again?


Band Of Gold
Warriors
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
For the Warriors to have a prayer of ending their 11-year playoff drought, keeping it together is paramount.


Lineup Breakdown
ESPN The Magazine sizes up the Warriors roster:

PLAYER ANALYSIS RATING
Starters: Athletic backcourt. Athletic frontcourt. But no toughness.
PF
Troy
Murphy
More double-doubles (34) than CWebb, LeBron and Amare.
7
SF
Mike
Dunleavy
Well, at least his dad was a pretty good player and coach.
6
C
Adonal
Foyle
Midterm elections are around the corner.
6
SG
Jason
Richardson
Scoring average (21.7) increased three years in a row.
8
PG
Baron
Davis
Loves to pull up from deep, averaged 7.7 triple tries a game.
8
Bench: Derek Fisher and Mickael Pietrus bring solid help in the backcourt. Ike Diogu could help the frontcourt, but he's out three to four weeks with a broken hand.
6

TOTAL SCORE

41

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands Oct. 26.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Jason Richardson
Player Efficiency Rating
18.98
vs. NBA Avg: +3.98

One of the game's most spectacular athletes, Jason Richardson continues to steadily round out his game and is now among the better players at his position. In 2004-05 he became a much more potent scoring threat, introducing a nice pull-up bank shot from the right side and developing a post game that makes him a tough cover for small guards. He'll be even tougher once he learns how to read double teams. Right now his instinct is to dribble away from the pressure rather than fire a quick pass, making it easier for the defense to regroup.

Richardson continues to take too many 3-pointers but hit a somewhat respectable 33.8 percent last season. All that catching and shooting helps keep his turnovers down because he's a poor dribbler, but it also prevents him from using his athleticism to get to the free-throw line. Richardson also needs to improve his defense, as he again rated poorly. While he's strong and explosive, he isn't as nimble as some of his counterparts and needs to upgrade his effort level.

Despite these shortcomings, Mullin is looking wiser for giving Richardson a six-year, $70 million extension before the season, because he would have commanded similar dollars last summer on the free-agent market. At 24, Richardson is one of the best rebounders at his position and has blossomed into a first-rate scoring threat. His steady improvement bodes well for future seasons.

-- Warriors player profiles from John Hollinger's "Pro Basketball Forecast: 2005-06," available at Amazon.com and Potomac Books.


B Game
Davis
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
There is one big reason hopes are high at Golden State, and his name is Baron Davis.


Nation Speaks
We asked SportsNation what Golden State should do about its brewing battle for minutes at the small forward position.

More than 8,000 fans responded, and here is their take:

What should the Warriors do at small forward?
47.9% Start Mike Dunleavy
35.1% Go with hot hand
17.1% Start Mickael Pietrus

Vote: Warriors in 2005-06 | Results



Tim's Time
Legs on Warriors: The Warriors, at worst, will be the best last-place team in NBA history.

At best, they will have a chance to edge past the Lakers.

Either way, Mike Montgomery won't be coaching a postseason team for awhile.

Having star point guard Baron Davis for an entire year will be nice. Along with underrated Jason Richardson, that gives the Warriors one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

Mike Dunleavy continues to improve and Troy Murphy is a solid power forward if he can stay healthy.

That's about it. The bench contributors are primarily Derek Fisher, Calbert Cheaney, Mickael Pietrus, and rookie Ike Diogu.

Put this squad in the East and they would be playing meaningful games in the spring, just like Montgomery was when he was at Stanford.

Tim Legler, ESPN Insider



Coach's Corner
Mike Montgomery
Experience: 1 year
Reg. season record: 34-48
Playoff record: none
Coach's profile

When Baron Davis hit the scene, Mike Montgomery's Warriors won 14 of 18 down the stretch.

Montgomery must spread it out and get Davis and Jason Richardson to attack the rim to offset their lack of low post scoring.

Concerns on the glass and getting to the foul line need to be addressed.

Jim O'Brien, ESPN Insider



Hollinger's Q & A
Which Baron Davis are they getting?

Baron Davis electrified the Bay Area basketball scene once he arrived in a trade from New Orleans, helping the Warriors to a winning record down the stretch that boosted hopes for a playoff run this season.

He is perhaps the most athletic point guard in basketball, with the leaping ability to dunk over centers and enough jets to easily break down opponents off the dribble. He's also a tough defender, a gamer who plays hurt, and a big guard who can brutalize smaller players in the post.

Here's the bad news: Two major weaknesses offset those strengths: injuries and shot selection.

Before Davis became a terror with the Warriors, he'd missed half the season with the Hornets due to an ongoing string of knee and back problems. Those don't figure to improve as he gets older.

Additionally, Davis has often hamstrung his teams offensively because of his love affair with the 3-pointer. He's only a 32.9 percent career marksman, but that didn't stop him from launching nearly eight a game last season.

Warriors coach Mike Montgomery can't do anything about the injuries, but he'll need to convince Davis to ditch the long ball. Otherwise, Davis' bombs will undermine what otherwise could be a potent offensive attack.

More Hollinger Warriors analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Diogu
Diogu

Sleeper: Ike Diogu's status as sleeper took a hit when he broke his hand last month, which means he won't start the season as a fantasy threat. But as the season goes on, this bruising forward figures to push his way into the rotation and generate big rebounding stats. With Troy Murphy and Diogu playing together, the Warriors aim to control the boards.

Bust: Mike Dunleavy comes off his best season, but things have changed in Oakland. With Baron Davis in town, Dunleavy won't be able to get as many shots or points. Dunleavy wasn't a fantasy star to start with, offering points and 3s and not much else. The emergence of Diogu and Mickael Pietrus could hurt his stock more.

Eric Karabell | Fantasy Basketball Index

 

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