OAKLAND — It’s a new dawn, a new day in Dub Nation, and head coach Mark Jackson is feeling good.
After leading Golden State to its first postseason appearance since 2007, Jackson has a lot to be proud of. But now all eyes are watching to see if he and the Warriors can do it again, and this time take it even farther.
The success of last season is not lost on Jackson. But with new additions to the team and the coaching staff, he is fully focused on the future. He said he wants more, and knows that the fans do too:
“You go around town and people are excited about Warriors basketball and rightfully so. We’re not satisfied with last year, that’s old news and we’re not going to live on old news. We’re looking to build something right now.”
Jackson is impressed with the offseason and what the Warriors front office has done in acquiring veteran players and upgrading the talent of the team. He said it’s been a lot of fun the last few weeks seeing things come together.
While last year’s team was able to establish momentum, Jackson said the Warriors are now an improved and better team. Applying what looks great on paper to the court is something that remains to be seen:
“It’s a real concern, but that’s what preseason is for and what training camp is for and its going to be a challenge for everyone across the board, but it will happen.”
Almost the entire team has been back and working out together since early September. Jermaine O’Neal arrived this week, and Nemanja Nedovic arrives later this week. Jackson said it’s proof the team is committed to winning:
“It’s not just them showing up going through the motions, they’re showing up working. It says a lot about those guys. You win in this league with players.”
Winning is exactly what Jackson wants. He won’t predict how many wins, and won’t set a number of wins as a goal because he doesn’t want to limit his team.
Instead, Jackson said that he plans on having a very good basketball team with a chance to win the whole thing.
With a healthy and strong team heading into the 2013-2014 season, Jackson is now faced with a new problem: Setting a starting lineup.
Jackson says guys will get their minutes and everyone will play a important part whether or not they start a game:
“I have so many weapons and so many options. We will allow it to play itself out in a real competition across the board and see what our best lineup is. Jarrett Jack played a huge part of the success of this basketball team and he didn’t start.”
Starting the season with a healthy team has Jackson excited. Not only is Stephen Curry showing no signs of ankle weakness, but Andrew Bogut is looking better than ever. A smiling Jackson said he couldn’t be happier:
“He’s looking very good, you can tell by the smile on my face. I’m just happy for the first time in a long time that there are no restrictions on him.”
Bogut isn’t the only one showing growth and strength. Jackson said Harrison Barnes is stronger and better than he was last year and now has a body to play against power forwards.
Defensively, Jackson said the Warriors are now more prepared, with Bogut and O’Neal able to defend the paint and Andre Iguodala to take care of the perimeter:
“We already have established ourselves as a very good defensive team, it’s only going to get better.”
The Warriors picked up Jackson’s option to continue coaching through this season, but didn’t include a long term extension. Jackson isn’t concerned though:
“I’m not a guy that’s gonna sweat that, I’m honored and blessed to be the coach of this basketball team. … I look forward to being here a long time.”
Between the NBA playoffs, Summer League, having a church, four children and sending a daughter to college, Jackson said he hasn’t had much time to recharge, but that he doesn’t need it:
“I’m excited and I enjoy life and I’m excited about this next season, as a basketball coach as a dad and as a husband. It’s a fun time, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Warriors training camp starts Saturday, with Golden State hosting the Sacramento Kings Oct. 7 for their first home preseason game.