The last few years in Warriors world, the atmosphere has been nothing short of volatile. Players often speak of the unpredictability of the Golden State environment.
Then there's Andris Biedrins.
The 23-year-old center is a picture of consistency for the Warriors, one of the few reliable producers. Perhaps his most important area of consistency is his steady improvement. Biedrins has increased his scoring and rebounding averages in each of his five NBA seasons, and he has expanded his presence in the locker room.
Can the Warriors expect more from him? He thinks so.
"I can always get better," said Biedrins, who at one point last season posted a double-double in 17 consecutive games, one off the Warriors' record. "You want to keep adding stuff to your game."
Last season, Biedrins — in the first year of a six-year, $54 million contract — made noticeable strides, averaging 11.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He showed an ability to attack the basket off the dribble. He improved his passing enough to become a viable cog in the Warriors offense even out of the high post. He set a career high with 121 assists in a season (he had 88 in 2006-07, when he played some 500 more minutes than he did last season).
Still, Biedrins is convinced there is room to improve.
One goal is to be better going to his right. A natural lefty, Biedrins said he's putting in extra work before and after practice with
Also, he's looking to develop his game out of the key. Known for making viewers cringe with his free throw stroke, Biedrins said he wants to develop a jump shot.
"That will be my next big goal," said Biedrins, who spent the summer playing for the Latvian national team. "I've really tried to work on that, before practices and after practices. Move out of the painted area."
Certainly, the Warriors are in need of a big man who can score inside. They also need someone to protect the basket, to rebound, to run the floor. That begs the question: Is that too much to ask from Biedrins?
Concern about burnout and injury no doubt exists. Those concerns are amplified by his two-month stint with the Latvian team. Biedrins played a total of 15 games after January thanks to two sprained ankles.
Biedrins set a season high with 30.0 minutes per game in 2008-09. But coach Don Nelson considers Ronny Turiaf a formidable backup center, which should prevent Biedrins' minutes from getting too high. There is even a school of thought that Biedrins is better when his minutes are controlled.
But Biedrins said he wants more. He wants a larger role in the offense. He wants to be on the floor in the fourth quarter. He wants to be better.
"I'm ready to take it to a new level," Biedrins said in his jovial swagger. "Big year. You watch."