Rookies offer Warriors, Hawks hope on opening night
Posted: Thursday November 3, 2005 1:20PM; Updated: Thursday November 3, 2005 6:41PM
Jason Richardson's 28 points and two blocks helped take the sting out of losing Baron Davis on opening night for the Warriors.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
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Come February, when the days are short and inactive lists long, the NBA season will have long since lost that new car smell. The questions we ask now -- will LeBron average 30, are the Bucks for real, what the hell happened to Doug Collins' hair? -- will have long since been resolved.
For the moment, however, there remains a whiff of promise in the air and the semblance of a spring in Phil Jackson's creaky step. Anyone could have a career year and any team could be a contender. Except the Raptors, that is. They can't contend. But almost everyone else has hope.
With that in mind, let us traffic in optimism for now, while we still can. Early reasons to be positive: Andrew Bogut playing like a veteran in two Bucks wins; the unleashed Detroit Pistons making, and completing, passes that would give Larry Brown indigestion; Smush Parker dunking (smushing?) on Andre Miller; the Hornets winning a home opener behind the steady Chris Paul; Reggie Miller making a promising debut in the TNT booth; and Antoine Walker and Sam Cassell ingratiating themselves to their new teammates by shooting, and shooting some more, in their first games.
But what about the Hawks and Warriors, you ask? Well, maybe you don't, but we'll fill you in anyway, for there may be no two teams more deserving of a good, stiff pint of optimism. Two of the most-maligned franchises in the league, the Hawks and Warriors entered the season with reasons to be excited. The Warriors, intoxicated by the 18-10 finish under Baron Davis last season, are talking playoffs. The Hawks are, well, they're also talking about the playoffs, as in "Hey, you gonna watch the playoffs next spring?" Still, since we're looking on the bright side, Atlanta does have a lot of young talent, especially in new acquisition Joe Johnson and draft pick Marvin Williams Jr.
So to Oakland we go, where a near-capacity crowd turned out last night to see the Warriors -- and their interminable, smoke-filled, Franz Ferdinand-themed introductions. Here's what was apparent from the very small sample size of one game.
1. Joe Johnson is not a point guard.
Of course, we all knew this, but watching him try to initiate the Atlanta offense, often from 35 feet from the basket, was painful. The Hawks ran more smoothly with Tyronn Lue at the point, and with Johnson doing what he does best: score.
Understandably, the Hawks are trying to run their best players out together, but the attempt to play sort-of-big-ball by starting a combination of four forwards and center Zaza Pachulia -- if they were a band, they'd be "Zaza and the Swingmen" -- doesn't look promising.