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2006 Pacific Division Preview: The Golden State Warriors of Oakland

Note: All this week, Sactown Royalty will be previewing the teams in the Pacific Division. Today, it's the Golden State Warriors. Enjoy.

Also, I love using italics. It just makes things look more important, doesn't it? Especially at the top or bottom of stories. I'm going to use italics more often. Italics italics italics.

Listening to Warriors fans talk, you sure wouldn't know that the team was tied for last place in the division last season. All this Baron Davis has gotten to their heads, we think.

It's inarguable that Chris Mullin absolutely fleeced New Orleans in getting The Baron at the trade deadline last season. I don't even want to discuss it - needless to say, if Geoff Petrie pulled off AARP member Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton (whose incredible name is sooo wasted on such a "bleh" player) for Baron Davis, a statue would've been immediately erected. When Mullin - Chris "$51-million-for-Adonal-fricking-Foyle" Mullin does it, it reeks of blackmail. Yes, Mullin definitely had something on Allan Bristow.

Nonetheless, Baron is a Warrior and fans are agog with hype disguised as hope. Even level heads are convinced that the Double-U's are a playoff possibility (convinced being an admittedly strong word there).

So why in the hell are GSWhoops fans so overwhelmed in faith that the ELEVEN-YEAR PLAYOFF DROUGHT will end come April? We went behind enemy lines to get that answer, and here to fill us in is the fabulous Dave Isaacs from The City, a Warriors blog on the Most Valuable Network.

Take it away, Dave:

You never gave them a second thought. They were always the team that came in to Arco, took their blowout loss, and went home with their double digit losing streak in tact. Prior to March 2005, the Kings had taken 18 of the past 22 matches against the Warriors.

Suddenly, two moves shook NorCal. Chris Webber was moved, and Baron Davis was brought in. With B-Diddy in tow, the Warriors finally took two March games from the Kings, and at least gave Golden State fans a glimmer of hope. Thus prompting the question: are the Warriors the best team in Northern California?

Anyway, Tom asked me to shed some light on the 2006 Warriors squad, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Basically, if you haven't looked at Golden State's roster since June (the draft), you haven't missed a single thing. The Warriors drafted Ike Diogu (9th), Monta Ellis (40th), and Chris Taft (42nd), and haven't added a free agent with the mid-level exception or traded for a player with their $5 million trade exception. Aside from the training camp invitations, this team will be very much the same squad you saw in March.

The Warriors were lacking two important things going into the off-season: a low post defender to take on the 4's of the league, and a sharpshooting perimeter specialist. With that 9th pick in the NBA draft, the Warriors took Ike Diogu out of Arizona State. Ike was always a banger, despite his size at 6'8". In college, double or triple teams were not uncommon. Suddenly, the Warriors are hoping they have an Elton Brand clone. Unfortunately, Diogu broke a bone in his
left hand (two weeks ago) in practice, meaning he'll be out for the entire pre-season and maybe a few regular season games, keeping Troy Murphy's starting job safe... for now.

With Monta Ellis, the Warriors have one heck of a talent. Just 19 years old, Ellis is quick, can shoot the lights out, and is incredibly intense on defense. Yet at 6'2" and 175 pounds, he's learning how hard NBA players hit as opposed to high schoolers. This guy could be Tony Parker one day, but it could very well also be years down the road.

Chris Taft... eh. Too many injuries already, and hasn't gotten a chance to prove he deserves a roster spot with the big league club. The NBDL isn't unreasonable at this point. For background on Chris Taft, let me refer you to an article I wrote a few months ago.

So what can you expect from the Warriors this year? Look for a fast-paced game, with defense a very distant second priority. Baron Davis and Adonal Foyle are adequate defensive players, but Jason Richardson, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and especially Troy Murphy... not so much. Richardson will always get a pass since he's a 45% shooter. Dunleavy might be supplanted by Mickael Pietrus at small forward (which would especially hurt since Mike is in his contract year), and Troy Murphy has Ike Diogu right behind him.

Thanks, Dave. The discerning and color-blind Kings fan should definitely consult The City throughout the season, just to keep up on the competition. (And if you've seen the cat-vomit alternate uniforms, you can't claim not to be discerning. Or color-blind, for that matter.)

Personally, I'm convinced the Double-U's are destined to be in a dogfight with the Los Angeles White Sox for the Pacific Division cellar. Remember, purported run-and-gun team Golden State is one tweak of the back away from disgruntled, defensive-minded, 31-year-old Derek Fisher running the show. Flyers like Jason Richardson can't be excited about that.

Also, did someone slip Mullin a large dose of Nyquil? The guy was in a coma this offseason - he let a trade exception expire, he hasn't used his mid-level exception or veteran's exception yet. No free agents were signed, nor were any current Warriors extended.

Does Garry St. Jean have power of attorney over the guy right now (and if so, can we get him and Petrie together at Spataro for lunch immediately?) After a summer of very public blind flailing about (read: Adonal and the Fish, free agents spectulare), Mullin's disappearance is frightening. Someone find him and hook up the defibrillator.

This team is a really, really poor man's Sacramento Kings. Like really, really poor. Like MC Hammer poor.

TZ's Prediction: No higher than 4th in the division. Playoffs? Cue Jim Mora.