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Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins Making BIG Strides

New, comments's John Hollinger dropped his list of the The All-Improved Team (so far) for the first trimester of this NBA season. Kevin Martin, T.J. Ford, Josh Howard, Deron Williams, Luol Deng, David Lee, Luke Walton, Sean May, Hakim Warrick, and Andrew Bynum all made the list. Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins repped the Warriors big time on the list.

Here's what Hollinger had to say about Matt Barnes:

In terms of sheer "Where the %$!* did that come from?" effect, Barnes is 2006-07's answer to Boris Diaw. Entering the season, Barnes was your typical end-of-the-roster NBA journeyman, having played for four teams in three seasons after never suiting up for Cleveland, the team that originally drafted him in 2002. He never scored more than 4.5 points per game or shot better than 25.0 percent on 3-pointers, and the Warriors signed him only as an afterthought the day before training camp started.

What Barnes has done since then has shocked everyone ... probably even himself. From nowhere, this perennially shaky shooter has turned into a 3-point ace, raining 46.1 percent from downtown and pumping in 17.2 points per 40 minutes; he'd never averaged more than 11.1 before. He has also slashed his perennially high turnover rate and is shooting a career-best 77.4 percent from the line.

His progress shows no sign of abating, either; just Tuesday night he dropped 29 points with 11 rebounds and five steals in a win over the Hornets.

After Barnes made the final training camp cuts, NO ONE expected him to produce at the level he's done so far this season. Barnes' season shows that hard work pays off. He's a great story and the story gets even better every time he terrorizes former NBA squads that didn't give him a fair chance.

At the bargain basement price of $771,331 (for the NBA at least) Barnes' has had more of positive impact on the Warriors' season thus far than these big money guys on the Dubs' 2006-2007 salary cap:

  • Jason Richardson: $10,000,000
  • Troy Murphy: $8,285,714
  • Adonal Foyle: $8,125,000
  • Mike Dunleavy: $7,438,016
  • Zarko Cabarkapa: $2,157,096
  • Ike Diogu: $2,137,200
  • Patrick O'Bryant: $2,061,720
  • Keith McLeod: $1,350,000
He's not only one of the leagues most improved players, he's one of the league's best bargains. He's been better than Best Buy!

Nellie deserves a lot of credit for Barnes' emergence as well. It's great to have a coach who doesn't care about how much money players are making, but instead about collecting W's. Aside from his dog house (hello, Ike, Troy, and Adonal!), Nellie pretty much runs a meritocracy. If you're straight ballin', you'll get your minutes out on the court. If you're clueless like Paris Hilton at the 99 cent store, then you'll be riding the pine. Barnes of course has been straight ballin' so far this season. Let's hope he keeps it up. With all these injuries, this team is going nowhere fast if Barnes has a big drop off in production.

With every big three he nails, every pocket he picks, every rebound he grabs in traffic, every basket he throws down, every sharp pass he dishes out, Barnes is increasing his paycheck for next season and beyond. It'll be interesting to see whether the capped out Warriors can even afford him beyond this season. He's been a vital cog in this edition of Nellieball.

Barnes Baby!

Here's what Hollinger had to say about Andris Biedrins:

I left Biedrins off my all-breakout team because I thought Don Nelson wouldn't play him. Silly me. Nelly may like small ball, but he's not an idiot. Once he got a good look at the Latvian lefty, the minutes soon followed.

Biedrins' specialty is high-percentage shooting -- he shot 63.8 percent last season and is at 62.7 percent this season. He ranks fifth in the NBA in TSP at 62.9.

But this season he's expanded his game by becoming more than just a dunk specialist. Now he's throwing in hook shots from the low block and short-range bankers, and he's no longer the league's worst free-throw shooter. Last season he made a ghastly 30.6 percent from the stripe, but this season he's up to a more respectable 56.0 percent. He's also improved on his already-solid rebounding mark, and at the age of just 20 it's not hard to envision an All-Star Game or two in his future.

I honestly thought Biedrins was playing himself out of the league last season. He didn't show any improvement whatsoever and suffered from the infamous one minute man syndrome. Biedrins also didn't have a good summer league outing in Vegas. He looked like he was heading nowhere... fast. But this year, Biedrins has stepped up big time. He's become a fan favorite with his rebounding, dunks, hustle, shot blocking, and of course his unforgettable, goofy interviews.

Give Nellie a lot of credit for Biedrins' big jump this season as well. He's let Biedrins play through his mistakes and put him in positions where he can succeed. When the Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy starting center/ power forward tandem experiment failed, thankfully Nellie turned to Biedrins, Barnes, and Mickael Pietrus. Nellie gave them an opportunity and those guys took care of the rest.

While others envision Biedrins as being a super star in this league someday, I see his ceiling being a very solid double-double center in the years to come a la Marcus Camby on vitamins (meaning he'll play more than 40 games a year). He's not that skilled and teams are starting to figure him out, but with more hard work he'll be a big impact player for the Warriors for the next decade plus. Let's just hope he doesn't look over his shoulder come contract extension time and look at the offers Chris Mullin and crew inked Adonal Foyle, Troy Murphy, and Mike Dunleavy to. Andris and his agent should ask for way more dough than those 3 got. It could get ugly, but regardless this kid will be walking away as an exorbitantly rich Latvian.

Like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV- he will DESTROY YOU!

Before the season started who did you think would be the most improved player on the Warriors? What kind of seasons did you expect from Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins back in training camp this past October?