Nelson Worried About Warriors' Foul Shooting

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:07 am
Updated:2006-09-28 21:40:51
Nelson Worried About Warriors' Foul Shooting
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports
OAKLAND, Calif.
Don Nelson is making sweeping changes to the Golden State Warriors , yet the coach's grand scheme begins with simple free throws.
Nelson will demand better free-throw shooting from his players when he opens training camp Tuesday in his second stint with the moribund club. And he won't be afraid to bench stars Jason Richardson and Baron Davis if they can't provide it.

The second-winningest coach in NBA history was hired last month to end Golden State 's league-worst 12-year playoff absence - a drought that began when he ended his first term with the Warriors .

While Nelson has cooked up plenty of ideas to improve the Warriors, ranging from a sophisticated small-ball attack to better conditioning for every player, he sees one glaring statistic from last season: Golden State finished 26th out of the NBA's 30 teams in free-throw shooting, making just 71.8 percent.

"The biggest problem they had in not winning games is their free-throw shooting," Nelson said Thursday in an interview at the Warriors' training complex. "You're never going to be much of a team if you don't make your free throws.

"Unfortunately, two of my best players don't shoot the free throw (well): Jason Richardson and Baron Davis. There's no reason that they don't. ... The onus is going to be on the player, for sure, to make his free throws. You're not in the game (if) you don't make your free throws."

Such simple, confrontational solutions to the Warriors' problems just didn't seem possible last season under coach Mike Montgomery, an NBA neophyte who never seemed to command his players' respect. That shouldn't be a problem with Nelson and his 1,190 NBA victories.

Though Richardson and Davis were the Warriors' highest-scoring players last season, Nelson said he won't hesitate to bench anybody who can't score at the line in the clutch. Richardson and Davis made just 67 percent of their free throws last season while combining to average 41.1 points.

And although Nelson still hasn't met with Davis in person, the coach also said he would like his high-scoring point guard to lose some weight so he'll be at his fittest for the new uptempo offense. Their relationship should be an intriguing subplot to the Warriors' suddenly exciting season.

Nelson is known for his tinkering and innovation, yet he's hoping his track record as a player and a winning coach will make the transition smooth.

Every player is going to have to make a change in his game," Nelson said. "Most of them are going to be happy changes."

Meanwhile, Nelson said Richardson won't be able to practice when training camp opens. He's still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month, while young big men Chris Taft and first-round pick Patrick O'Bryant also will be on the sideline with injuries.

After four weeks of videotape study and personal evaluation since his hiring, Nelson has concocted some ideas about getting better results from a club that finished with identical 34-48 records in the last two seasons under Montgomery.

Nelson sees a confused team in those tapes - defensively disorganized and offensively undisciplined. The Warriors launched 22.3 3-pointers per game, more than any team except the Phoenix Suns - yet made just 34.1 percent of them, well below Phoenix's league-leading 39.9 percent.

Though Nelson built high-tempo, quick-shooting offenses in Golden State and Dallas , he won't sanction such rampant long-range shooting.

"It's their decision-making that's my biggest concern," he said. "If these players think we're going to launch as many 3's as they did last year, they're mistaken. We're going to shoot (fewer). We're going to be penetrating more, passing more. We're not just going to be shooting 3's at every opportunity."

Nelson's starting center probably will be 6-foot-11 Troy Murphy most nights, and the smallish lineup behind him will be quick and versatile. But if it doesn't work, Nelson won't hesitate to change.

"The plan that I have is flexible," Nelson said. "I want to get the max out of the team that I have, get them to play the best they can play. We're not talking about winning titles. We're talking about building the best team we have, and then go from there. Hopefully we'll talk about winning titles some time in the future."
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:37 am
Good on the old cunnt for being flexible (how much I don't know with that pot belly!) Freethrow shooting has to improve and good on the prik for reducing the threes taken!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:54 am
He should be worried. We were abysmal last season in the free throw department.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:53 am
That's why I'm so glad to read that it's one of his top concerns. When Nelson has a concern, he doesn't BS around it (like Montgomery); he addresses it. If Baron and Jason hit 80%, each, on their FTs next season, I'll be amazed. It would bolster each of their PPG marks up by 5 or 6 points. Richardson could easily average 30 PPG if he shot his free throws as well as LeBron, Kobe, and AI.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:45 pm
At that point JRich couldn't get denied an All-Star spot! I think he is certainly capable of shooting at least 80%.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:46 pm
^he shot 76% in 02-03, his second year.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 3:28 pm
I think Nelly can get him to hit 79%- 81% this year. Just a rough prediction, but I think it's possible.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 5:34 pm
It is definately something that has to be addressed and if improved, will win most of the close games for the team - Last season would have been an extra 8-12 games and that would've meant playoffs for the team!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 5:42 pm
The Warriors lost 14 games by 5 or less points.

Those are free-throw woes.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:29 am
#32 wrote:That's why I'm so glad to read that it's one of his top concerns. When Nelson has a concern, he doesn't BS around it (like Montgomery); he addresses it. If Baron and Jason hit 80%, each, on their FTs next season, I'll be amazed. It would bolster each of their PPG marks up by 5 or 6 points. Richardson could easily average 30 PPG if he shot his free throws as well as LeBron, Kobe, and AI.

I agree about free throws, bro, but Jason averaged 6 FT attempts a game. He raises his percentage to 80, that's one more made a game, bringing him to 24. He'd need to get to the line a lot more to get to 30. I think he'll average 26 a game this year.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 1:32 am
John Patrick wrote:At that point JRich couldn't get denied an All-Star spot! I think he is certainly capable of shooting at least 80%.


It will happen as long as we don't have a winning record. Stats on losing teams don't mean much.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:52 pm
coltraning wrote:
#32 wrote:That's why I'm so glad to read that it's one of his top concerns. When Nelson has a concern, he doesn't BS around it (like Montgomery); he addresses it. If Baron and Jason hit 80%, each, on their FTs next season, I'll be amazed. It would bolster each of their PPG marks up by 5 or 6 points. Richardson could easily average 30 PPG if he shot his free throws as well as LeBron, Kobe, and AI.

I agree about free throws, bro, but Jason averaged 6 FT attempts a game. He raises his percentage to 80, that's one more made a game, bringing him to 24. He'd need to get to the line a lot more to get to 30. I think he'll average 26 a game this year.

Well, you're right, he'd need to get to the line more. That being said... if he's shooting 80% from the line, I believe he'll probably do that. Iverson, Kobe, and Arenas get to the line 1 to 3 times a night on pure flopping alone. That's an extra 2-6 free throws (they average 11.5, 10.2, and 10.0 last season, respectively). If Jason Richardson could average 10 free throws a night and make 8 of them, that would boost his average points per game to about 27 or 28. I think that's possible (especially if Baron gets injured again).
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