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Early observations (cont.)

Posted: Thursday November 3, 2005 1:20PM; Updated: Thursday November 3, 2005 6:41PM
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2. Jason Richardson will be an All-Star this year.

Again, this isn't surprising, as he might have been one last season had he not gotten injured just before the All-Star break, but Richardson looked more confident in the season's first game than he has before. Despite a bum knee, he shot well, displayed a nice post-up game and had one surreal block on Salim Stoudamire, leapfrogging the rookie after smacking his shot into the stands. Richardson says he spent the offseason working on his ballhandling -- he had a buddy pick him up full court in pickup games -- and it shows. He can take over a game, as he did Wednesday night in the second half, and that's a rare commodity in the NBA.

3. The rookies who will have an impact.

In particular, Marvin Williams Jr. and Chris Taft. UNC product Williams was the most impressive Hawk, scoring 12 points and grabbing 6 rebounds while displaying a high-arcing touch on his jump shot and playing with both confidence and alacrity (a quick-jump follow tip on his own miss was especially impressive).

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Not to be outclassed, Golden State's Taft, surprising everyone, including perhaps himself, came out and, in the words of Warriors coach Mike Montgomery, "calmed us down," blocking three shots in 18 minutes and anchoring the Warriors' D. He held his ground and didn't leave his feet or draw dumb fouls, as rookies often do. When asked afterward, Taft -- for whom dropping precipitously in the draft from the top 10 to top 50 may have been the best thing that ever happened, as it simultaneously lowered expectations and provided motivation -- said, "The scouting report said that all their players pump-faked, so I stayed down." This sounds simple, but understand that there are guys who've been in the league 10 years who don't act upon the scouting reports. Of course, the cheers he heard last night could be the high point of his rookie season, but, remember, we're all about optimism, so instead we give you this quote from Montgomery, envisioning a Taft administration. "Chris Taft was huge," said Montgomery. "If he does that [every night], he'll play more than 10 minutes." For a guy who had D league stamped on him two weeks ago, and given Taft's reputation as a lackadaisical player burnished long before that, that's saying a lot.

4. As expected, Baron Davis went down.

It was just a matter of time, of course, though most thought that time wouldn't come on the first night. But on the first night, in the third quarter, on a lay-up, Davis strained his hamstring. On press row, his status was listed as TBD; the same goes for the Warriors' hopes so long as Davis is questionable. Montgomery said they'd know more Thursday. Richardson said, "He's hurt -- we want him back, but we have to see what happens."

5. Finally, there were -- sadly -- no dress code moments on par with Mark Cuban's.

If you didn't see it, Cuban wore a blue blazer to the opener with the Mavs insignia on the back. Though Troy Murphy did look remarkably uncomfortable in a tie.


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