SI Vault
Phil Taylor
October 30, 2000
With two good players in place, there's a sense of direction at last. And it's upward
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October 30, 2000

10 Golden State Warriors

With two good players in place, there's a sense of direction at last. And it's upward

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Projected Lineup



1999-2000 KEY STATS


Antawn Jamison


19.6 ppg

8.3 rpg

2.1 apg

0.70 spg

47.1 FG%


Danny Fortson


7.6 ppg

6.7 rpg

0.5 apg

52.8 FG%

73.5 FT%


Erick Dampier


8.0 ppg

6.4 rpg

0.71 bpg

40.5 FG%

52.9 FT%


Larry Hughes


15.0 ppg

4.3 rpg

2.5 apg

1.40 spg

40.0 FG%


Mookie Blaylock


11.3 ppg

6.7 apg

3.7 rpg

2.00 spg

39.1 FG%



1999-2000 KEY STATS


Bob Sura


13.8 ppg

3.9 rpg

3.9 apg

1.25 spg

43.7 FG%


Chris Mills


16.1 ppg

6.2 rpg

2.4 apg

42.1 FG%

26.7 3FG%


Vonteego Cummings


9.4 ppg

3.3 apg

2.5 rpg

1.21 spg

40.5 FG%


Adonal Foyle


5.5 ppg

5.6 rpg

1.79 bpg

50.8 FG%

37.8 FT%


Chris Mullin


5.1 ppg

1.6 rpg

42.8 FG%

40.9 3FG%

90.2 FT%

New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

It's only fitting, in light of their Bay Area location, that the Warriors are beginning to resemble one of those Silicon Valley start-up companies. They have hired some young, energetic employees, brought in a CEO who has experienced success and, in talking about making the playoffs, they are clearly thinking outside the box. Like many of those fledgling firms, the Warriors, who haven't finished higher than sixth in the Pacific since 1993-94, could take off or, once again, go nowhere. But fans should now be more willing to invest their hard-earned capital in tickets than in years past, because Golden State finally appears to have a sound business plan.

The Warriors have placed most of their hopes on a pair of dynamic third-year players: shooting guard Larry Hughes and small forward Antawn Jamison. By the time they acquired Hughes from the 76ers in a three-team deal last February, Jamison's season had already been ended by a left knee injury, but each player was impressive enough to give new coach Dave Cowens hope that they'll be even more successful in tandem. Hughes averaged 22.9 points and 4.1 assists in his 32 games with Golden State (though he shot just 38.9%), while Jamison averaged 22.7 points and 9.3 rebounds after coach P.J. Carlesimo was fired in December. "Antawn is a hard worker who uses his strength well, and Larry is very explosive," says Cowens. "They both have the ability to make a lot of All-Star teams."

Cowens, 52, made six All-Star teams himself as an undersized center, but what made him especially attractive to the Warriors is his experience with winning teams. He earned two titles playing for the Celtics, and in both 1996-97 and '97-98 he coached the Hornets to more than 50 wins. "You can tell that he's used to success," says Jamison. "He just expects it, and that's an attitude we need."

The Warriors need more than just Cowens's attitude; they also need his expertise. That's particularly true of 26-year-old center Erick Dampier. After signing a seven-year, $48 million contract, Dampier has had two lackluster seasons, including last year's, in which knee and wrist operations allowed him to play only 21 games. The Warriors have to have a better return on their investment, which is why Cowens and assistant Clifford Ray, a center on Golden State's last championship team, in 1975, have made Dampier a special project. He spent part of his summer under Ray's tutelage in Los Angeles, where Ray was helping coach Golden State's summer league team, and Dampier often showed up early in the morning for one-on-one instruction.

Dampier is the only offensive threat among the Warriors' big men, and they need his presence in the middle to compensate for their vulnerability on D. Jamison will be hard-pressed to keep up with some of the quicker small forwards he'll face, and Hughes, 21, is still learning the intricacies of NBA coverage.

It is typical of the Warriors' luck that they are stuck in the league's strongest division. They could be vastly improved and not have their record reflect it, but there is still an understandable sense of optimism around the club. The team is more sensibly constructed than it has been in years, with Jamison, whose game makes him something of a tweener, now the full-time small forward. The Warriors rid themselves of the glut at that position by trading Donyell Marshall to the Jazz in a three-way deal that brought them power forward Danny Fortson, who is exactly the kind of tough rebounder they needed.

The improvements won't add up to a playoff team, but if Jamison and Hughes continue their progress and Dampier begins to show some, the Warriors could begin the long journey from start-up company to blue-chip stock.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]