Warriors center Andris Biedrins has a new hairstyle, ditching the spiked top and going with the short, simple look. He also has shed his nickname, Goose, and now goes by "Dre."

More important, he has a clean bill of health, declaring himself 100 percent healthy from hernia surgery, and a new mindset.

"No spikes, no Goose," Biedrins said with a smile Tuesday. "It's a new chapter."

This may be a new chapter, but the Warriors want the old Biedrins. They need the old Biedrins -- the double-double machine who can anchor the defense, run the floor and finish inside.

Golden State's success will be contingent upon Biedrins returning to form and even improving. The new style of play they want -- physical, sizable and defensive minded -- banks on Biedrins.

"Not only am I communicating (his importance), but the team is communicating it to him," coach Keith Smart said. "Saying to him how important he is, how key he is to how we perform. I'm very encouraged."

That version of Biedrins was absent last season, when he was hampered by groin issues all season before finally having surgery in March. He played just 33 games, averaging 5.0 points and 7.8 rebounds, his lowest totals since he became the starting center in 2006.

Biedrins passed his conditioning test Tuesday, and his teammates said he was running the court well. Smart said during defensive rotation drills, Biedrins was moving like a guard.


Advertisement

His spirits seem to be up, too, according to his teammates. He's back to being the spirited, jovial personality he was in the past. Last year, his frustration was obvious, especially as his free throw woes peaked. He expressed some of those frustrations -- about the season, about the style of play, about coach Don Nelson -- in an interview with Latvian media, which was translated and posted on the fan site WarriorsWorld.net

Biedrins said the translation was incorrect, though he acknowledged never seeing the article. But he did stand by his disappointment in the lack of ball movement and the ruckus about his free throws.

That all seems to be behind Biedrins now.

"He seems like he's in a great frame of mind," said forward David Lee, who said two years ago that Biedrins was one of the hardest centers to play against. "He's loose. He seems to be enjoying the process. That's all you can ask -- that he comes in here healthy and is enjoying himself. His talent is going to speak for itself. I think we're going to make each other better. I think our games complement each other well."

If Biedrins returns to form, that would be a noted benefit for Lee, whom the Warriors traded for after he signed an $80 million contract with the Knicks. Lee wouldn't have to bang with centers, which he did in New York.

Golden State also wants to give Biedrins the ball more. Smart went to Latvia in early August and spent two weeks with Biedrins. They worked on his shooting stroke -- the Warriors want Biedrins to get comfortable taking the midrange jumper -- and his low-post game.

The Warriors still want to run the pick-and-roll, and they want Biedrins involved. That would be a change he'd like.

Of course, that means getting to the free-throw line. Last season, Biedrins made 4 of 25 free throws (16 percent). His free-throw shooting became the subject of much discourse (and Nelson quips).

Smart said Biedrins' free-throw stroke looked much better when he went to see him in Latvia. Tuesday, teammate Stephen Curry said he noticed Biedrins shooting in one motion -- removing that cringe-worthy hitch -- and appearing confident. Biedrins said he expects to be back up to the 60 percent range this season.

That's certainly change the Warriors would invite.