SIAP, Pree article on the Warriors Front Line
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Posted by The Big Rebounder on 2008-11-11 08:09:39
By: Preetom Bhattacharya Last Updated: 11/11/08 7:56 AM ET | 1452 times read
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It's the center of an atom. It's small, very dense, and overwhelmingly positively-charged. Ultimately, it is the nucleus that is able to hold an atom together.
For the Golden State Warriors
, there isn't much to be positive about right now as the organization may seem to be unraveling. The team's issues appear numerous and difficult to manage or spin in a positive way " the player the organization hitched it's wagon to reportedly violated his contract, one of the team's three captains wants to be traded, and there seems to be a lame duck regime in the front office.
That's a whole lot of negativity.
But then there's that nucleus.
Ironically, there's nothing "small" about the Warriors' new nucleus, a trio of young frontcourt players that hope to eventually help bring this team out of the rut it's currently in. Center Andris Biedrins and forwards Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph have given reason to believe that the Warriors will indeed recover and eventually reward their fans' patience while they develop " a patience that wears thin, but never evaporates.
That Warriors' future frontcourt looks like they're going to be a force to be reckoned with in another year or two. They're all very young (Biedrins " 22, Randolph " 19, Wright " 21), very long (Biedrins " 6'11, Randolph " 6'10, Wright " 6'10), and very athletic. "We have really good, young talented guys," Biedrins said, referring to Wright and Randolph. "They're really starting to develop. They both come and play hard and hustle for every single ball. I'm really looking forward to the future because I think we'll be great."
Part of that greatness that gets Biedrins excited is going to be a product of something Warriors head coach Don Nelson isn't known for: defense. "All three of us are great defensive players and can block shots," Randolph held, but emphasized what Nellie likes to hear about potential big men in his system as well. "We can certainly get out and run on the floor since we're all so mobile, too. I think, in the future, when me and Brandan further develop, I think it'll be great to have all three of us on the court at the same time."
"I think, eventually, they'll be playing a lot of minutes together," Nelson added, admitting that the for Wright and Randolph to see consistent playing time would come from their hard work on the practice courts.
Although he is showing an increased aggressiveness on offense, Wright's focal point for his production will be on defense for the foreseeable future. He plans to use his wingspan to really disrupt his opponents in three ways by 1) preventing penetration and pushing players to the baseline or forcing them to go in directions they are not comfortable, 2) deflecting and intercepting passes, or 3) blocking and changing the trajectory of shots.
With more consistent playing time so far this season, Wright feels as though things are starting to come together for him on the defensive end of the court. "The more you get out there and play, your timing all starts to line up," he said. "I was always a pretty good shot blocker when I was in high school and college and those traits don't go away. But when you get out there and get more time, you really start to get the timing down on these players and can get a good read on the ball."
Wright's defensive ability is opening up a lot of things for Biedrins, who hasn't really gotten a chance to play with another big man down low before in his career. Wright's presence is allowing Biedrins to play a bit more efficiently on defense, still getting his rebounds (14.1 per game, good for second in the game) while able to save some of his energy. After all, Al Harrington has never exactly been known as a defensive banger.
"It's kind of weird, but it's easier since he's such a great rebounder and he's blocking shots," Biedrins remarked about his teammate, Wright. "He kind of makes my job a little bit easier " I know that if I go out somewhere, I know he'll be behind me and will take care of that ball."
Because his job's "a little bit easier," Biedrins has started to become a bit of an offensive force for the Warriors thus far in the season. Averaging what would be a career-high 17.3 points per game, Biedrins has seen a jump in his point production by just about 7.0 points per game, mostly because Nelson is significantly more comfortable calling plays for him. "I just want to be more involved on offense and I know on the defensive end I've got it. I just want to improve and help my team on offense, which is why I'm playing more aggressive and I feel pretty comfortable."
"I think he's improved his offensive game a little bit," Nelson explained about Biedrins' game. "I think he's gotten better over the years and we go to him more now than we did. We have a bit of a different team now, so our focal point has to change a little bit."
For his part, the player helping Biedrins is recognizing his teammates' absolutely stellar player. "He's playing great," Wright said. "He's the anchor on this team, grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, contesting shots. He's just being the guy we expect him to be " a great player " and we're looking forward to a great season from him and I'm looking forward to performing next to him."
Filling the trio out, though, is the x-factor in this whole equation: Anthony Randolph. In speaking to many on the Warriors roster, there is an enthusiasm at the chance to play with such a versatile, play-making forward that simultaneously carries himself with a boyish swagger. On the other end of that dichotomy is an understanding that Randolph is going to need plenty of time to develop.
"He's got to let his body catch up to his mind right now," Nellie cautioned. "I think he's going to be a terrific player some day, he's just probably a little too young right now. He's had some nice moments and definitely has a presence to his game. A nice start for the young kid."
But the eagerness to see what Randolph can do on the court isn't easy to hold back. "He's a very talented kid and the sky is not the limit for him because he can go higher than that," teammate Ronny Turiaf extolled. "So I'm trying to talk to him on a daily basis to make him understand that he's a very talented kid and he can't let his talents go to waste. He's got to keep working hard and really put himself in the position where if his number gets called up, he's going to be ready."
Randolph's unique blend of size and ball-handling ability are what make most so excited about his future. "In high school, I had a lot of ball-handling responsibilities and in college, toward the second half of the season, they gave me that privilege," he said. "I'm trying to carry that over to the NBA, just work on my turnovers and hopefully I can start to get more ball-handling responsibilities."
He also says he's working on his jumpshot, hoping to become more consistent from the perimeter so that he can create space and make opponents honor him a bit more on the outside, not assuming he'll always look to penetrate.
That kind versatility is what makes Randolph so valuable to Nelson, who thrives with the opportunity to create lineups that force opponents to play combinations they're not comfortable with because of awkward matchups. Seeing a silky-smooth 6-10 forward on the perimeter reminds many of Lamar Odom and Rashard Lewis, but Randolph said he especially likes Tayshaun Prince, who " wouldn't you know " is often lauded for his defense.
Again, it's going to really take time for Randolph to be a consistent player, but as he and Brandan Wright slowly develop over the next season or two, the Warriors' frontcourt could eventually not only be one of the biggest in the league, but one of the most talented and difficult to keep up with.
They'll just need to keep this core together to allow them to grow as a unit.
Then again, perhaps it's the job of this nucleus to show what they're capable of in an attempt to to hold this team together in tough times.
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