Lets face it, if Warriors coach Mark Jackson followsthrough on his promise to demand that his players defend, then it stands toreason forward Lou Amundson could benefit.Amundson is one of the few players on the Warriors with adefensive mindset, and his ability to be physical, block some shots, reboundand take a hard foul may very well lead to him having more of a role with thisyears Warriors than last years Warriors.Going into this knowing the emphasis hes going to put ondefense, thats something I really believe in, Amundson said Friday, from theWarriors practice facility. Being on that Phoenix team and kind of witnessingand being a part of the transformation we made from a mediocre defensive teamto a rather good defensive team, as players its what we need to make happen.It gets me excited to bring that here.It wasnt an overly dramatic defensive improvement for theSuns from 2008-09 to 2009-10, but it was effective. They went from giving up107.5 points per game to giving up 105.3 points per game but that helped themto an eight-game improvement, from 46 wins to 54 wins.That kind of nudge-up for the Warriors would put them in theplayoff mix in the Western Conference.Amundson played only 46 games a year ago, a victim of injuryand former coach Keith Smarts rotation. He averaged only four points and 4.3rebounds per game and shot 45 percent from the field well below his 55 and 54percent from the field in the previous two seasons.But Amundsons intent is have a bounce-back year, and hecould be on his way. He has worked out and played basketball all offseason andhe was the first Warrior player back to the Bay Area now that the lockout hasended.If the Warriors are going to make good on Jacksons otherpromise to make the playoffs theyre going to need contributions from lotsof players, not the least of which is Amundson.If you have a good second unit, that can change the game,Amundson said. Obviously, you put a lot of expectations on the first unit todo the job at the start of games and in crunch time. But a lot of times gamesare won and lost in that middle time at the end of the first quarter or endof the third quarter and beginning of the fourth.
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.
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.
Kevin really put a ring instead of a cherry on top of the cupcake 👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/1GVaFNbQet— Julie Phayer (@juliephayer) June 24, 2017
Peep KD's hat.— NBCS Warriors News (@NBCSWarriors) June 24, 2017
Cupcake with a ring on top. 👀 pic.twitter.com/VmXAhRz8k5
So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.