Warriors' Biedrins' no longer flying under rivals' radars
By Marcus Thompson II
Posted: 11/27/2008 07:09:56 PM PST
BOSTON — Warriors center Andris Biedrins said the Thanksgiving thing is growing on him.
He said such a holiday isn't celebrated in Latvia, his home country, but he is starting to become a fan of the popular American tradition.
"Because I'm really here like five years," Biedrins said after the Warriors' Turkey Day practice, "I'm getting this feeling because I can see how special it is for everybody else. It's a really, really big thing here, and everybody's really enjoying this day and really happy this day. So I'm kind of trying to just blend in."
Something else growing on Biedrins: the attention he gets with being the man.
"It's not easy to be a superstar," he quipped in his trademark humor.
It's not the attention from fans Biedrins is worried about but the attention he is now getting from opposing defenses. The noticeable dip recently in Biedrins' production, he said, is directly related to being a primary focus of opponents' game plans.
Biedrins opened the season registering double-doubles with the ease of a breakaway layup. In the first 10 games, he averaged 16.8 points and 14.9 rebounds, running his streak of double-doubles to 18 dating to last season.
But lately, reaching double-digits in points and rebounds has become quite the feat. He's done it only once over the past five games, a span in which he averaged 14.6 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Wednesday's loss at Boston was his third consecutive
game in which he failed to do so. He was also held to single-digit points as well as rebounds.
"People are really starting to block me off and really paying a lot of attention, especially to the rebounds," he said. "Now I have to work even more than I worked before because they are really scouting me.
"Same thing offensively. Me and (swingman Stephen Jackson) on those pick-and-rolls, people are taking away those. So we've just got to get some different moves in."
Could some of the decline in production be the result of fatigue? Not only is Biedrins, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract, averaging 35.3 minutes per game (which would easily be a career high), but he also played for his national team this summer.
International players suiting up for their country during the offseason has been a cause for concern across the league. Team executives quietly (some not so quietly) prefer their players not participate in summer tournaments and international play because it robs players of their recuperation period.
Biedrins said he is a little tired. But he said his fatigue is the product of a five-game, seven-day trip.
In the first three games, he's matched up against Philadelphia big men Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert, Washington's lanky, athletic youngsters Javale McGee and Andray Blatche, and Boston's physical bigs Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
He said what fatigue he feels has little to do with playing for Latvia this summer.
"Not really, at least not now," Biedrins said. "Now I feel great. We'll see how the season will go, and you can ask me that same question maybe in January. Then I'll see how I feel.
"It was difficult the last couple of games," he added. "I mean the East Coast is a little bit different. Every team always has really big guys down there. It's always harder to play against East Coast teams."
Biedrins gets to bang with Cleveland's 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas tonight, as well as frenzied forward Anderson Varejao, so a double-double again might be hard to come by.
Biedrins' concern over not getting double-doubles illustrates his growth. Despite his recent slump, he entered Thursday tied for the league lead in the category with Orlando center Dwight Howard and New Orleans point guard Chris Paul.
Keeping company with those two All-Stars is certainly something for which Biedrins can be thankful.