Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:07 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Golden return for Nellie Ball?

Warriors

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Golden State Warriors finish in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference? Get 10 takes from ESPN's NBA experts.


ANALYST COMMENT
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
I said it and I stand by it: Nellie's return makes the Warriors a playoff team. The direction of the league -- with its smaller lineups, inviting lanes and faster tempos -- has never favored his coaching style more.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 8
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
We like Chris Mullin as a person, but not as an executive. He wasn't proactive in shaking up his roster over the summer, and we don't expect him to last long if Don Nelson's squad drops too far below .500.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
Don Nelson is a master at small ball and creating matchup headaches. The Warriors had better score a ton of points because they are going to struggle at the defensive end again this year (20th in FG% defense last season).
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
Not even Nellie's unconventional genius can overcome a conference this good. But if Baron Davis can stay on the court, they have a chance. Dajuan Wagner will battle Amare Stoudemire for the comeback player of the year.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
Last year, they were my sleeper squad and they sold me out. Why I'm rolling with GSW again this year? I'm dumb. Plus Don Nelson has shown he can turn point guards into point gods. I'm trynna pray to Baron Davis this year.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
Nellie's back, but I don't know how they'll get any stops with a frontcourt of Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy. Throw in the annual injury to Baron Davis, and the league's longest playoff drought will head for Year 13.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
Nellie will make them entertaining, but can he make them winners? With Murphy at center and Dunleavy at four, the answer is no. Even a great coach can't change the Warriors' losing ways overnight.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
The Suns perfected small ball but Don Nelson introduced it. He will help the maligned -- Baron Davis, Mike Dunleavy -- show off their talent, and they, in turn, will embrace his game plan with the fervor of the possessed. On such alliances are playoff berths won.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 7
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Nellie was a great hire, but you know the catalyst, B. Davis, will go down at some point. If he stays healthy -- the refrain again this season -- the Warriors could be tough.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
Don Nelson is going to have this team improved with its ability to score, but the question with this team revolves around defending the paint and scoring in the paint.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 4.6 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 11.3 | Standings


The Full Nelson
Nelson
Jeff Chiu/AP Photo
He's tanned, rested and ready. With Chris Mullin's backing, Don Nelson returns from his Maui manse to an arena that has known nothing but playoff futility since he last coached the team.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Baron Davis
Point Guard
6-3 | 215
Tim Hardaway talent still eclipses CWebb 'tude. Or so Nellie prays.
Jason Richardson
Shooting Guard
6-6 | 225
Team leader in Baron's absence vows not to abdicate.
Mickael Pietrus
Small Forward
6-6 | 215
First order of business: Flip that 0.8:1.5 A-to-TO ratio.
Mike Dunleavy
Power Forward
6-9 | 230
Nellie's answer to "Is he a 2 or a 3?" Play him at the 4.
Troy Murphy
Center
6-11 | 245
Sure, tons of PFs are migrating to C. Most can block a shot, though.
Bench: New coach says FT% determines PT. Three starters shoot less than 70 percent. So Monta Ellis, Ike Diogu and Dajuan Wagner better stay loose.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Andris Biedrins
Player efficiency rating
projection: 15.57
vs. NBA avg.: +0.57
Warriors profiles

Scouting report: Biedrins still needs to add more muscle, but he's reasonably sized for a center and should throw his weight around more. First, he'll need to internalize the contact rules in the post. Right now he just shoves his man in the back any time he catches on the block, and as a result he averaged nearly a foul every five minutes.

Offensively, Biedrins can finish around the basket, as his shooting mark attests, but he needs to be more active. His usage rate was only 58th among centers, which might be partly explained by the tunnel vision of the Warriors' guards but also had something to do with his own inability to get to open spots on the floor. He also could use some time with Pete Newell figuring out how to score in the post.

2006-07 outlook: With Adonal Foyle's continued ineffectiveness and rookie Patrick O'Bryant's inexperience, the time is ripe for Biedrins to claim a much greater role in the Warriors' frontcourt. Biedrins would need to improve quite a bit to provide a quality solution, but since he's only 20 years old, he just might do it. Don't look for him to shoot so well from the field, or so badly from the line, but if he cuts down on the fouls and picks up the rebound rate another notch, he could be one of this year's pleasant surprises.


Expect More J's From J-Rich
Richardson
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Offseason knee surgery might turn former dunk champ Jason Richardson into more of a full-time jump shooter. The good news: He made 38.4 percent of his 3-pointers last season, tops in his five-year career.


SportsNation Speaks
Hey, maybe Adonal Foyle can play the 2! Nellie's back, and SportsNation revels in the possibilities.

What's your take on the possibility that Don Nelson will start Dunleavy at power forward and Murphy at center?
63.0% That's why he's a genius!
37.0% Give me a break!

Vote: Warriors in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Warriors

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Warriors' logo on your chest?

Guess who was the head coach of the Warriors the last time they made the playoffs? (Hint: It wasn't Mike Montgomery, Eric Musselman, Brian Winters, Dave Cowens, Garry St. Jean, PJ Carlesimo, Rick Adelman, or even Bob "NBA Cares" Lanier.)

That's right: Don Nelson. Nellieball is back in the Bay Area and Warriors Nation is thinking playoffs. A first-round playoff sweep? We're Warriors fans -- we'll take it!

And that tattoo of the Warriors logo? We're the most loyal fans in the entire NBA -- we each already sport more of those than all of Allen Iverson's tats combined. "Unstoppable baby!"

Atma Brother No. 1 and Fantasy Junkie of Golden State of Mind



Coach's Corner

DON NELSON COACHING FILE
Experience: 27 years
Record: 1,190-880
Playoffs: 70-85
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

One challenge Don Nelson will have in his first season will be to convince his team that they don't have to wait for him to call a play before they shoot the ball. It won't be a tough sell.

Baron Davis and Co. need to lift their shooting percentages, and Nellie's feel for allowing guys to "do their thing" should improve those numbers.

Nelson does need to figure out ways to win close games, as the Warriors lost 14 of 21 games decided by three or fewer points.

David Thorpe



Hollinger's Team Strength
Youth. This team almost has to get better because it's so young. Ten players on the roster were 25 or younger last year, and with the trade of Derek Fisher, only one player on the roster -- Adonal Foyle -- is over 27.

The most intriguing players are the youngest. Biedrins is only 20 and is a 62 percent career shooter who can rebound and block shots, although he's still very rough around the edges.

Ellis is 21 and shows lots of promise as a Sam Cassell-type scoring guard, while another 2005 second-round draft pick, Chris Taft, is also 21 and played very well at the start of last season before back trouble ended his season.

But the best of the group is probably Diogu, who is potentially a stud low-post scorer at just 6-8 thanks to his long arms and variety of moves. The 23-year-old could end up pushing Murphy for a starting job this year and, longer term, may make him expendable.

Other younger players could also take steps forward. Mickael Pietrus is 24 and Dunleavy is 26; both were disasters last season but each could perform substantially better. And Richardson has played so long that it's hard to remember he's just 25.

More Hollinger Warriors analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Pietrus
Pietrus

Sleeper: This may be the year Mickael Pietrus gets to regularly showcase some of the ability that he's given fans glimpses of over the past three years.

He's already been named the starter at small forward, which is critical for a player who has never had his coach's confidence. His numbers should increase across the board, possibly making him worthy of your final roster spot.

Bust: Dajuan Wagner's return to the NBA is a nice story, but his poor shooting percentage and low assist totals don't make him an attractive option. He may provide the Warriors with a boost off the bench this season, but he'll play behind Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, so he won't play enough minutes to be worth your time.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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