Warriors focus: Carl Landry

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Warriors focus: Carl Landry

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final installment in a seven-part series that spotlights the seven new Warriors.
Part 1: Harrison BarnesPart 2: Kent Bazemore
Part 3: Andrew Bogut
Part 4: Festus Ezeli
Part 5: Draymond Green
Part 6: Jarrett Jack

If you want to get picky, you could say that Carl Landry isnt really a perfect fit for the Warriors. After all, what the Warriors need most from their interior players particularly from their substitute big players is rebounding and defense.Those arent exactly the first two things you think of when you think about Landrys game.Nevertheless, its tough to criticize the signing of Landry. Darn near impossibly, frankly. Hes a proven scorer off the bench and a player known for his competitiveness. No, hes not a defensive stopper or a big-time rebounder, but what Landry does give the Warriors is quality depth at a position where they havent had much.Last season Warriors coach Mark Jackson had to use all sorts of players in the frontcourt, including Dominic McGuire, Mickell Gladness, Mikki Moore, Keith Benson and Earl Barron.So without a doubt Landry represents an upgrade from last season. Question is: Where do his minutes come from?David Lee figures to get the lions share of playing time at power forward. Lee has averaged 36 and 37 minutes per game, respectively, over the past two seasons with Golden State.That doesnt leave a whole lot of room for Landry, a player who has averaged 25 minutes per game, himself, during the course of his five-year career.It seems apparent that Landry will get a good portion of minutes when coach Mark Jackson elects to go with his small lineup. If theres one thing Jackson showed a season ago, its that hes not afraid to use Lee at center particularly late in games.A Landry-Lee frontcourt would certainly have some size deficiencies and defensive shortcomings, but that frontcourt could also be useful if the Warriors are trying to bring home a win down the stretch of a close game.Landry and Lee both have career free-throw percentages of .777. So when you consider Andrew Bogut is a 54.7 percent foul shooter for his career, you can see why Jackson might go small late in games.But there are other reasons for Landry and Lee to play together, and the most important is that by doing so the Warriors will limit Boguts minutes. With Bogut coming off season-ending ankle injury last season, it only makes sense to monitor his minutes closely in 2011-12.On top of that, there is instability at the backup five position with Andris Biedrins, whose game has gone missing in recent years, and Festus Ezeli, an unproven rookie.When Landry plays hell give the Warriors an aggressive scorer on the inside. Hes more of a scorer than a back-to-the-basket power forward, though he can do some damage in the right matchup down there.Landry does his best work from the mid-post area, where has developed a nice mid-range shot to go a long with a quick first step at least by power forward standards.The one thing Landry has done throughout his career is get to the foul line. Last season for the Hornets, Landry averaged 4.5 free throw attempts in just 24 minutes.That could come in handy when you consider that Landry will likely be playing a lot early in the second quarters of games assuming hes coming off the bench. If nothing else, Landrys assertiveness could serve to get the Warriors in the penalty more quickly than they have in the past.As for Landrys rebounding, its not that hes a bad rebounder, hes just not a great one call him average in that department. Landry averaged five rebounds per game last season in 24 minutes.Landry also isnt much of a shot-blocker, which means when he and Lee play together theyll have trouble protecting the rim.What Landry does bring to the table is a willingness to compete and someone whos going to play hard night it and night out. Because he gives the Warriors a different kind of dimension inside, its possible seeing him having a nice role.No, Landry isnt perfect. But its easy to see that he should make the Warriors better.

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.