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Pointing the way

Golden State learns to appreciate Davis' leadership

Posted: Tuesday November 22, 2005 1:29PM; Updated: Tuesday November 22, 2005 6:40PM
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Although his individual numbers are down this year, Baron Davis has helped increase the Warriors' numbers on the scoreboard.
Although his individual numbers are down this year, Baron Davis has helped increase the Warriors' numbers on the scoreboard.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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In light of the recent friction between Stephon Marbury and Larry Brown -- in case you missed it, Marbury became frustrated and asked to be moved to two guard -- it is interesting to note what is happening at Golden State.

The Warriors, under the direction of Baron Davis, another powerful point guard capable of scoring in bursts, are off to their best start in a decade at 7-5 (which tells you as much about the Warriors' start as it does their last decade). Davis' numbers so far are not great -- his tweaked hamstring has clearly limited his effectiveness, and he's shooting 32.5 percent this season -- but his effect has been profound. "No disrespect to the point guards who were here in the past, but Baron's the type of point guard that makes everybody better," says backcourt mate Jason Richardson. "He gets in the lane and just finds guys. I been waiting for a guy like him to come and he took my game to another level."

This is not, incidentally, the type of quote one reads about Marbury, despite his career averages of 20 points per game and 8 assists. But this type of appraisal, I would argue, is a simple, but fail-safe way to assess any point guard: do his teammates like playing with him?

Think of the top point guards in the league -- Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Davis -- and their teammates tend to speak of them with an affection rarely heard from heterosexual men discussing other heterosexual men. And with good reason: a top point guard can turn an average player into a good one, and a good one into an All-Star (see Kenyon Martin in New Jersey), and in the NBA that's worth a lot of zeroes come contract renewal time.

Take Troy Murphy, the Warriors' forward. A banger for most of his career, he's shooting a career-high 47.2 percent and hitting 1.2 three-pointers a game, or nearly one more than his career average coming into this season, in large part because Davis is creating wide open looks. Says Murphy: "He's made my life easier. He's so strong for a point guard that he forces other teams to double him and the kick out is to me for a three. He gets me a lot of easy baskets."

Warriors center Adonal Foyle is particularly impressed by Davis' instincts: "Most of the time if you do what he says, you'll be in the right spot --" (and here Foyle mimics finding a ball magically delivered in his hands) "It's like, 'Hey, it's Christmas!'"

The praise isn't limited to current teammates. Jamaal Magloire, who played with Davis in New Orleans, says of his former teammate: "He's able to make everybody feel their worth, I know that from experience. Baron's a good fit anywhere he goes."

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