2011-2012 Warriors season preview -- playoffs on horizon?

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2011-2012 Warriors season preview -- playoffs on horizon?

It will be very simple to evaluate the coaching job that Mark Jackson does with the Warriors this season.Very simple, indeed.Jackson has virtually the same group of core players that coach Keith Smart had a year ago when the Warriors went 36-46. That was a 10-game improvement over the previous season 2009-10 -- which wasnt a bad little bounce.Still, owner Joe Lacob thought the Warriors needed to get better in the coaching department and so he hired Jackson, a man with no experience, but plenty of confidence.Jackson promised the playoffs on the day he was hired, backing up a guarantee Lacob already had made to Warriors season-ticket holders. That will be quite a challenge considering Jackson will trot out the same starting five on opening night assuming Stephen Curry is ready to go -- that Smart had the previous season.So, can Jackson get more out of Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee and Andris Biedrins than Smart? Well, thats the big question.Jackson may have a slightly better bench than Smart had last season, but thats also open to interpretation. This season, the Warriors will rely heavily on rookie Klay Thompson, veteran center Kwame Brown and second-year power forward Ekpe Udoh.Last season Smart rode with Reggie Williams, Vladimir Radmanovic, Acie Law and Lou Amundson for stretches.None of that matters to Jackson, who doubled down on his prediction earlier this week.Im not changing, Jackson said. We will be a playoff team. Thats not going to change.For that to happen, the Warriors, who finished 12th in the Western Conference a year ago, will need to leapfrog four teams and make sure that no team that finished behind them a year ago jumps over them such as the greatly improved L.A. Clippers.The only way that happens is if Jackson can somehow turn a team very similar to the one Smart coached into a solid defensive team. Jackson has been matter-of-fact about that happening, but its only fair to be skeptical.One man who is not skeptical is Lacob, who said he believes in Jackson and his staff on a recent Chronicle Live show.Said Lacob: We have a better coaching staff, top to bottom (than last year)." In truth, that remains to be seen. But well sure know if its true by the end of the season.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN- Andris Biedrins, C, 7-0, 240: Full rebound from Biedrins unlikely but he should bounce back some- Kwame Brown, C, 6-11, 270: He will help, no doubt, but hell be frustrating at times, too- Stephen Curry, PG, 6-3, 186: Its difficult not to be concerned with Currys ankle issues- Monta Ellis, SG, 6-3, 185: Ellis task in 2011-12: Become a more well-rounded player- Charles Jenkins, PG, 6-3, 220: Hes had a solid training camp, but can Jenkins keep it up when regular season begins?- David Lee, PF, 6-9, 240: Like Ellis, Lee must sacrifice some for the good of the team- Dominic McGuire, SF, 6-9, 236: Tough wing defender who can play some power forward if Warriors go small- Brandon Rush, SG, 6-6, 225: The more Rush plays the more likely it is that rookie Klay Thompson is struggling- Ish Smith, PG, 6-0, 175: You could make a case Smith is the only true point guard on the roster- Klay Thompson, SG, 6-7, 205: Outside of not shooting well, Thompson showing ability to do other things- Jeremy Tyler, PF, 6-10, 260: May be more beneficial for Tyler to play for Dakota Wizards, where he can get playing time- Ekpe Udoh, PF, 6-10, 245: He seems like the Warrior most poised to take game to next level- Chris Wright, PF, 6-8, 226: Warriors like his work ethic and athleticism, but hell likely play mostly in D-League- Dorell Wright, SF, 6-9, 205: Hes had a quiet preseason but is important piece if Warriors are to be successful

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.

“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.

“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).

“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”

This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.

As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.

“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”

Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.

A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.

The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.

All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.

In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.

On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.

Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.

So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.