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Original Issue

13 Golden State Warriors An enthusiastic rookie coach is loaded with fresh ideas. It's just that he lacks the on-court talent to execute them

Thirty years ago seven-year-old Eric Musselman completed a
pregame dribbling performance before 20,000 fans at the
University of Minnesota, where his father, Bill, was the coach.
Then he wet his pants. The task now facing Eric, who in July was
named the Warriors' sixth coach in as many years, is no less of a
challenge to his self-control. "We're a work in progress," says
Musselman, a rookie whose roster includes nine players 26 and
younger. Any progress would distinguish this team from recent
ones at Golden State; the franchise hasn't qualified for the
playoffs in eight seasons, currently the longest such streak in
the NBA.

Much progress will be expected from forward Antawn Jamison, who
signed a six-year, $87 million extension in August 2001. The 6'9"
Jamison is inconsistent and defensively deficient, and his
on-court role isn't even clearly defined: He will jitterbug
between the forward positions as Musselman sorts through a grab
bag of rookie small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. and power forwards
Danny Fortson and Troy Murphy. Concerned that he would be odd man
out, Fortson accused Jamison of having orchestrated the choice of
Dunleavy with the No. 3 draft pick, an absurd charge because
Jamison doesn't have that much clout.

Fortson later apologized, and everyone around the
Warriors--including Fortson, and especially Jamison--has been drawn
in by Musselman's contagious enthusiasm, which has earned him
comparisons to another boyish gung ho coach, Jon Gruden, who was
popular in the Bay Area until he left the Oakland Raiders for
Tampa Bay. Musselman's late father, who between college and the
pros had 14 head coaching jobs in 35 years, was a legend for his
competitiveness and Marine-like work ethic, and the son has a lot
of both. "He coaches us like we're a championship team, not a
team of losers," says Jamison. Over the summer Musselman, who was
an assistant with the Hawks last season, mailed questionnaires to
his players, asking what their favorite shot is and where they
like to get the ball. He discovered, for example, that although
most players prefer to post up on the left block, shooting guard
Jason Richardson likes the right, so the coach tweaked some of
his sets to accommodate him.

There's much more tweaking to be done. Golden State is young,
deeply flawed defensively and prone to sloppiness on offense.
Jamison, who scored back-to-back 51s in 2000-01, is on the spot.
"The question mark about me is not whether I can produce
offensively," says Jamison, 26. "The question is whether I can
lead a team, make a winner out of a loser."

And the answer is? "I'm trying my damnedest," he says. "Having
Coach Musselman is going to help, but it's still going to take
time." --J.M.

COLOR PHOTO: ROCKY WIDNER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES MR. IN BETWEEN Though the Warriors pay Jamison to be their star, they still haven't figured out his position.

The Warriors were the only team in the bottom five last year in
field goal (42.9%), free throw (72.2%) and three-point (32.2%)

an opposing team's scout sizes up the Warriors

"If they'd had any luck in the lottery, they would have gotten the
first or second pick and used it to address one of their major
weaknesses--point guard and center.... They got forward Mike
Dunleavy [at No. 3] and then guard Jiri Welsch [No. 16], who
instantly became their best playmakers. Dunleavy looks thin, but
he's going to be a good pro. He's versatile, understands team
play and can pump fake, put it on the floor and finish with that
beautiful stroke. Still, I think he'll have a harder adjustment
than Welsch, who's played professionally in Europe and could
eventually be their point guard.... They were terrible in close
games because of their shooting. They didn't have one guy who hit
more than 80 percent of his free throws.... I was surprised they
didn't go after a veteran who could provide leadership. Other
than Chris Mills, who's fighting injuries, there's no one for
their young players to look up to. They look like they're running
more motion to create an unselfish atmosphere.... I bet Eric
Musselman is devoting himself to breaking Antawn Jamison of some
bad habits, like standing on the three-point line when he should
be slashing inside. Jamison's still a young player who could
thrive in a team atmosphere, but his maximum contract is going to
cause problems because your max players need to be your best
players. On a good team Jamison would really be your number 3
player.... Jason Richardson shows signs of becoming a superstar.
He and Welsch could play together in the backcourt, with
Richardson guarding the quicker guy.... The Warriors need Troy
Murphy to become their best big man, because he's a tough guy who
can make shots. The other big guys--Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle
and Danny Fortson, who I hear is being shopped--should all be
backups, because they're not good defenders or shooters and they
foul too much."


Tough D

Fair D

No D

2001-02 record: 21-61 (seventh in Pacific)
Points scored: 97.7 (7th) Points allowed: 103.1 (29th)
Coach: Eric Musselman (first season with Warriors)


SF Antawn Jamison 18 19.7 ppg 6.8 rpg 2.0 apg 0.85 spg 44.7 FG%
PF Troy Murphy 116 5.9 ppg 3.9 rpg 0.9 apg 0.44 spg 42.1 FG%
C Erick Dampier 178 7.6 ppg 5.3 rpg 1.2 apg 2.29 bpg 43.5 FG%
SG Jason
Richardson 63 14.4 ppg 4.3 rpg 3.0 apg 1.33 spg 41.7 FG%
PG Gilbert
Arenas 108 10.9 ppg 2.8 rpg 3.7 apg 1.47 spg 45.3 FG%


F Mike
Jr.(R)[1] 122 17.3 ppg 7.2 rpg 2.1 apg 2.29 spg 48.3 FG%
G Bobby Sura 210 10.0 ppg 3.3 rpg 3.5 apg 1.13 spg 42.4 FG%
G Jiri
Welsch (r)[1] 225 15.7 ppg 2.7 rpg 1.9 apg 56.8 FG% 35.6 3FG%
F Danny Fortson 238 11.2 ppg 11.7 rpg 1.6 apg 0.57 spg 42.8 FG%
C Adonal Foyle 241 4.8 ppg 4.9 rpg 2.13 bpg 44.4 FG% 39.8 FT%

[1]New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
(r) Rookie (statistics from Slovenian League)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)