As the new head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Keith Smart is stressing defense and toughness. He still wants the team to play a quick tempo that nets several fastbreak baskets per game, but he expects to see a more physical Warriors team that grinds out defensive possessions.
Judging by the first four days of practice, the team is getting the message. The Warriors generally hold their intra-squad scrimmages during the evening session of practice, and although these workouts are closed to the media, word is that these games have gotten pretty physical. The scrimmages have been so intense that Jeremy Lin has been practicing with a bandage over his right eye for the last couple days after getting inadvertently hit in the face in the heat of practice. Pleased with the effort he’s seen from the players thus far in camp, Coach Smart gave the team Thursday night off to rest.
The Warriors were back at practice this morning and not surprisingly, they worked on several defensive schemes. The team should be much improved on defense this year, not only because of a new coaching philosophy, but because of the players on the roster. Monta Ellis became a quality defender last year, taking on difficult assignments against bigger guards. Stephen Curry's perimeter defense earned him playing time with the U.S. national team at the FIBA World Championship – Coach Mike Krzyzewski was very complimentary of Curry’s defense throughout the summer – and that has certainly carried over to training camp. Add Dorell Wright, a player who joins the Warriors with a reputation as a very sound defender , and strong rebounders in Andris Biedrins and David Lee, who will minimize the opposition’s opportunities on offense, and it becomes a legitimate possibility that the Warriors will have one of the most improved defenses in the NBA this season.
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