Azubuike to start Wednesday
By Geoff Lepper
Warriors coach Don Nelson was a leery of pushing Kelenna Azubuike back onto the floor too quickly. Thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness, that fear lasted only two games before getting outweighed by necessity.
Despite missing a good portion of Golden State’s preseason work because of a bone bruise in his left ankle, Azubuike is expected to start Wednesday at small forward when the Warriors host Memphis. Azubuike will play small forward and replace Anthony Randolph, with Stephen Jackson sliding up to power forward.
“Every time he’s been out before, he’s come back and hasn’t been very good his first couple of games,” Nelson said. “This was the exception to the rule, so it’s just time for him to get back. And he looks good.”
If Nelson does start Azubuike, it will be the Warriors’ third lineup in as many games this season; last year, they spun through 46 different starting fives and never really found a winner.
Azubuike worked exclusively with the team’s first unit during Monday’s practice, and afterwards, Monta Ellis gave a preview of the team’s defensive plans: “Buke gonna play (Rudy) Gay, I’m gonna play (O.J. Mayo), Steph (Curry) is gonna play somebody else. That’s it.”
Azubuike spent much of practice as part of a small-ball unit with Ellis, Curry, Jackson and Randolph at center, although Nelson said afterwards Randolph was getting work in the middle strictly so he could back up Andris Biedrins while Ronny Turiaf recovers from the sprained left knee he suffered Friday.
Nelson noted that putting Azubuike and Jackson at the forward spots last season “was a very good lineup, actually” and that he had been looking forward to using the pair again this season.
Azubuike’s 3-point shooting — he was fourth in the league at 44.8 percent, just a couple points less than league-leading teammate Anthony Morrow (46.7) — has been noticeably absent for the Warriors to this point. That range could make the Warriors more effective at squeezing the most out of a mismatch at power forward; Nelson had been hoping for a scoring advantage there from Corey Maggette, but he has been off-target from 16 feet and farther.
“We just need either an extender or a guy that can pass,” Nelson said. “So with Buke in the lineup, that extends the defense even more and I think there’ll be more openings offensively. I thought that was important for us to do.”
Law will go free
As expected, the Warriors declined to exercise Acie Law’s fourth-year option, meaning that he will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
4 Responses to “Azubuike to start Wednesday”
[...] seems that Nelson agrees with this thinking, because according to a report by Geoff Lepper at 48minutes.net, the Warriors will unveil a new starting lineup Wednesday against [...]
So who’s going to guard Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol?
I suppose one fantasy would be that Randolph gets sucked into a perimeter chuckfest competition with Jackson, negating the size mismatch.
We can’t retire Nelson or trade Jack fast enough.
Thanks for the report, geoff. Although its not exactly the lineup move I have been proposing, getting KA into the starting lineup is a step in the right direction.
I’m guessing Randolph is still in the plans at PF. Moving him to backup 5 a reaction to Turiaf’s injury, and his own slow start due to injury this season.
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TagsAcie Law Al Harrington Allen Iverson Andris Biedrins Anthony Morrow Anthony Randolph Baron Davis Brandan Wright C.J. Watson Chris Cohan Chris Hunter Chris Mullin Corey Maggette Dan Dickau DeMarcus Nelson Devean George Don Nelson Gilbert Arenas Jamal Crawford Jason Richardson Jeff Fried Jermareo Davidson Keith Smart Kelenna Azubuike Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant Larry Riley Marco Belinelli Marcus Williams Matt Barnes Mickael Pietrus Mikki Moore Monta Ellis Patrick O'Bryant Richard Hendrix Robert Rowell Rob Kurz Ronny Turiaf Stephen Curry Stephen Jackson Stephon Marbury Steve Nash Troy Murphy Vladimir Radmanovic
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