Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monta Out, New Look Warriors

We all knew the Warriors would take on a new look after Barron Davis bolted for the Clip Crew over the summer, but things took ever more of a drastic turn with Monta Ellis' recent injury. Ellis, who supposedly was riding a motorcycle at the time of his injury, tore up his ankle and will not return until around the all-star break. There is some speculation that he may not return at all this season. The 22 year-old was due to start at point guard and really do what Baron Davis has done for the team over the last 3 seasons; run the team and basically be the man on offense in all aspects. However, that experiment will have to wait a while, and here is a look at how the new Warriors' starting five should look come opening night at the Oracle:

PG: Marcus Williams: He looked good for New Jersey filling in for Devin Harris last year for about a 2 week stretch. He averaged 11 points and about 6.5 assists per game during his starting stint. He has the quickness to play in this system and can play some defense, but he's no Baron or Monta, and expecting more than 12 points and 6-7 assists per night out of him would be a stretch. The Warriors have also expressed some interest in free-agent guard, Shaun Livingston, so Williams could have some competition there once training camp starts in 2 weeks.

SG: Corey Maggette: The Warriors snagged him from the Clippers after the Clippers took Baron from the W's. Maggette will likely take over as the offensive catalyst now that Ellis is out and him and Stephen Jackson will be asked to be the leaders on the court. Many feel the Warriors lost some toughness when they got rid of JRich, and Maggette should bring some of that back. Look for him to excel as the focal point Nelly's offense to the tune of 25 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 4 apg. Still, I would take Baron Davis over 2 Corey Maggette's.

SF: Stephen Jackson: Captain Jack has played the best ball of his career since coming to the Warriors, and has been unofficially dubbed the "Captain". He's maturing into this team's leader, on and off the court, and will be called upon to do so even more now that Baron is gone. The veteran forward will also be the ball handler when the Warriors are in half court situations. Jackson had the best statistical season of his career last year but it will be tougher to match those numbers this season with a considerably weaker ball-club. Still, look for Jack to once again be among the team leaders in all categories and put up another solid year.

PF: Al Harrington: There had been so much talk about Harrington getting dealt this summer, but nothing ever transpired and it doesn't look like anything will. I don't know why the Warriors would shop Harrington at this point when they clearly need scorers and are not very deep with big men. Brandon Wright, Ronny Turiaf and rookie Anthony Randolph will also be in the mix, but Harrington should be the one getting 25+ minutes a night there.

C: Andris Biedrins: The Latvian sensation has become one of the most underrated centers in the NBA. He won't turn 23 until the end of the season, so the best is still ahead for the improving big man. Like every other person on this roster, he will suffer with the loss of Baron Davis, but I still expect to see him keep improving as he has in each of his first 4 years in the league. The Warriors invested in him heavily this summer and I'm just hoping the pressure of justifying the contract doesn't hover over him. If I had to pick a surprise Warrior to make the Western Conference all-star team this year, it would be Biedrins, especially if he plays the way he did during the last 5 weeks of the season. Look for a 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks per night, maybe more.

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