Warriors fast start not a valid season indicator

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Warriors fast start not a valid season indicator

The Warriors are off to a 2-1 start and there seems to be atangible optimism among fans. Its not just that the Warriors bounced back froma disappointing opening night loss to the Clippers with two wins, its how theywon those two games: With defense.But how the Warriors start a season sometimes has no bearingon how they finish a season. Heres a look at some interesting starts theWarriors have had over the past several years and what ended up happening tothose teams.If you think this year will be different, tell uswhy.2010-11: Warriors begin season 6-2.
This was just last season, for goodness sakes, and we knowhow last season turned out: 36-46 and not even sniffing a playoff berth. Yes,the David Lee injury had something to do with the subsequent slide theydropped 12 of 13 during a NovemberDecember stretch but there was a lot ofoptimism about last years team early. And quite simply, they werent goodenough to sustain it.2007-08: Warriors begin season 0-6. This was the season after We Believe and Stephen Jacksonwas suspended at the start of the season. By December, the Warriors were above.500 and heading toward an unrewarded 48-34 season. But 2007-08 just goes toshow you that how you start a season doesnt necessarily translate to how youfinish one.2006-07: Warriors begin season 7-3. This turned into the Warriors only playoff appearance inthe past 17 seasons. But that 7-3 start slipped to below .500, and the Warriorsended up trading for Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy for Stephen Jackson and AlHarrington, among others. Sixteen wins in the teams final 21 games translatedto a 42-40 record and We Believe ensued.2005-06: Warriors begin the season 12-6. This was Mike Montomerys second and last season and hehung tough early. But Baron Davis couldnt stay healthy and Dunleavy and Murphyand Jason Richardson couldnt keep the team afloat. The Warriors ended upfinishing 34-48, helping usher in the Don Nelson Phase II Era.2001-02: Warriors begin season5-3. This team had Larry Hughes, Danny Fortson and Erick Dampierand there was hope after the season was two weeks old. But it fizzled andfizzled in a hurry, with coach Dave Cowens being fired by Christmas and theteam finishing the season with a 21-61 record.1994-95: Warriors start 5-0 7-1. Thats the year that many people believe started the Warriorson their huge downward trend. The Warriors, coming off a 50-win season, tradedChris Webber after he feuded with Nelson, and Bob Lanier ended up coaching theteam that season. It finished 26-56.

D-League getting respect as legit NBA minor league system

D-League getting respect as legit NBA minor league system

SALT LAKE CITY -- Joel Bolomboy has been back and forth between the NBA Development League's Salt Lake City Stars and the Utah Jazz 15 times since November.

In the old system, the second-round draft pick would have been racking up frequent flyer miles bouncing around the minor leagues and overseas, much like Hassan Whiteside and Danny Green did before him. But in a growing trend around the NBA, the Jazz moved their D-League team closer to home - from Boise, Idaho to Salt Lake City.

Front-office executives are seeing that the closer a D-League affiliate is to the NBA team and its staff, and more integrated into the organization, the better it can be used as a true minor league resource.

"Your average NBA team has a better understanding today than they did four years ago of the caliber and the quality of player that's in the D-League," said Donnie Nelson, Mavericks president of basketball operations. "And that's rising literally every year.

"It's like American Idol in a lot of respects. We have brought the stage to the buyer, rather than having to go overseas and chase down. And those of us that are quote, unquote, the real judges on the American Idol panel, we can see them firsthand."

The NBA Development League has grown from an eight-team, largely overlooked sideshow to a 22-team league inching closer to becoming a legitimate minor league system. The league, in its 16th season, is no longer a final grasp for players clinging to a dream of playing professional basketball but a respected avenue to get to the NBA.

A record 22 teams have direct affiliations with an NBA team this season, including five new ones. The Bucks, Grizzlies and Magic have purchased teams slated to join for the 2017-18 season, when it will be known as the Gatorade League.

NBA teams have learned to better use the system. A record 38 percent of all players in the NBA had spent some time in the D-League at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Nelson believes it's the "fastest, most effective" path to the NBA.

The perception of the league has changed among players, who once tried to avoid it at all costs.

Whiteside is one of the biggest D-League success stories. But before becoming the center for the Miami Heat, his travels took him to Reno, Sioux Falls, Rio Grande, stints in the Lebanese Basketball and Chinese National Basketball leagues and back to the D-League with Iowa. He signed with the Heat in 2014, and in 2016 signed a four-year, $98.4 million contract.

"The D-League's tough," Whiteside said. "If being in the D-League doesn't motivate you, nothing will. It was a really tough to play. ... It gives guys a chance to stay in America and let scouts see them.

"I had a dream and I was just so undeterred. They would have had to move mountains to get me off of my dream. It was going to happen regardless."

Whiteside is one of many D-League success stories.

After being undrafted, Yogi Ferrell landed in the D-League and got a 10-day contract with the Mavericks before signing a multiyear deal in early February.

Green played for Erie, Reno and Austin before being a starter on the Spurs' 2013-14 Spurs championship team.

Rudy Gobert spent significant time in the D-League as a rookie and signed a four-year, $102 million deal with the Jazz in October.

"Reps, particularly with point guards, are huge," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "You can't make up for repetitions. Even in an NBA game, there's a difference between fitting in and playing a role and having an opportunity to get reps and make mistakes.

"I hope our guys get a chance to do that and make a lot of mistakes and get better (with the Stars) and don't make them here."

Compensation, however, continues to be an issue for the league. The NBA took a step toward addressing the concerns in the latest collective bargaining agreement. Players typically can make more money overseas, but the league created a "two-way contract" that allows a team to hold onto a developing young player with a contract that includes a considerable salary increase. The rule increases the NBA roster from 15 to 17, with those final two spots for players going back and forth between the two leagues.

D-League President Malcolm Turner believes the two-way contract can keep more talent from going overseas and expects the new sponsorship with Gatorade to provide additional training and nutrition benefits for players through the company's Sports Science Institute.

The ultimate goal is that each of the 30 NBA teams will own its own affiliate and use those squads as a true minor league farm system.

"I think it's deeper, I think there's more respect on all levels from organizations," Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the D-League. "Players now respect it more, they see that they have a real opportunity if they're in the right place to develop and get a call-up.

"They went to Europe or China before. But each organization is different. We know for us, it is a major component of player development."

It's fast becoming a major component for every NBA team.

Kevin Durant's future plans: General manager of NBA team he owns

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AP

Kevin Durant's future plans: General manager of NBA team he owns

OAKLAND -- Still only 28 years old, Kevin Durant already is visualizing his post-career options.

The Warriors forward wants to stay involved in the NBA, and he aspires to levels above being a coach.

“I want to be a GM, want to own a team, hopefully own a team and run it,” Durant said Thursday, after the team’s morning shootaround.

Minutes before the trade deadline of noon Thursday, Durant acknowledged to following the various web sites devoted to basketball-related speculation regarding potential deals and the thinking behind them.

It’s all part of his long-term plan.

“So I look to see what rumors are getting out there, what deals are being presented to these teams,” he said. “Try to figure that stuff out. It’s fun, especially for a guy who knows that part of the business.”

[POOLE: Mum at deadline, Warriors ineligible to re-sign Andrew Bogut]

The latest former superstar to join the ranks of architects is Magic Johnson, who this week assumed control of the Lakers, the team with which he spent his entire Hall of Fame career. Johnson joins the likes of Larry Bird (Pacers) and Michael Jordan (Hornets).

Only Jordan, though, has the power of ownership.

Though several other former players run front offices, Durant would not be just another former player. Midway through his career, he already owns four scoring titles and an MVP trophy.

For now, he’s doing his homework, examining the Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to better understand its complexities.

“Obviously it affects me and affects my peers,” Durant said. “Like I said, I want to learn more and more about the business of basketball. I try to keep that fine line of keeping it pure and fun and also knowing that this is a really big business. So I like to go through the CBA, also ask questions.”