Amundson's role could grow under Mark Jackson

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Amundson's role could grow under Mark Jackson

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.

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

OAKLAND -- Though Kevin Durant is eager to get back to the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his assistants are in preliminary stages of planning his return.

One thing is certain: There will be restriction on the number of minutes Durant is plays in the first few games after he receives medical clearance.

“It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Kerr said Saturday after practice. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 28, when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and bone bruise to his left knee. After several days of strict immobilization, he has over the past week progressed to the point where he is engaging in vigorous workouts and shooting sessions.

Yet Durant will not be re-evaluated until next Thursday, which means he likely will not be cleared before the week of April 3. Not until then will the coaching staff devise a plan to reintegrate Durant.

“That obviously has a domino effect on the entire rotation,” Kerr said. “When we get to that point, we’ll figure that out. But it’s not something I’m giving a lot of thought to right now because he’s still at least a couple weeks away.”

The Warriors lost five of seven in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s injury but have recovered to win the last six in a row.

 

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.