Warriors coach Don Nelson said Monday that beginning with Thursday's game against the Chicago Bulls, Webber will be his fourth permanent starter, taking a slot alongside Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson.
Since Nelson and Chris Mullin, the Warriors' executive vice president, feel one of Webber's greatest strengths comes in enhancing the production of his four teammates on the floor, what better way to maximize that trait than by putting him with Golden State's best players?
"I think he should start," Nelson said. "I'm planning on starting him every game."
Nelson said he'll primarily use either Andris Biedrins or Al Harrington as his fifth starter, with Matt Barnes mixed in when the Warriors are looking to go small. That will allow Nelson to put Harrington back in the sixth-man role he outlined during the preseason -- an experiment that never got off the ground thanks to Jackson's seven-game suspension to start the season and subpar play from Barnes and Mickael Pietrus.
"I've always wanted Al as the sixth man ... and I couldn't afford to do it all the time," Nelson said. "I think that makes us a better team, when he comes off (the bench) and is my machine-gun guy."
After three practices in their five-day "minicamp" between games, the Warriors are adapting to playing with Webber, a five-time All-Star who's reputed to be of the game's best passing big men. Harrington, who has been matching up defensively against Webber, can attest to that.
"He's been incredible. That passing is not overstated or overrated," Harrington said. "It seems like since he's been here, guys are cutting harder, because everyone's trying to be that first one to get that layup. I think it's going to make our offense a lot crisper."
Nelson envisions Webber's passes rewarding players who provide constant motion.
"(Webber) is really going to help guys like Marco (Belinelli), Monta, anybody who moves without (the ball), Matt, all those guys," Nelson said. "Those guys who you almost have to force to move without it, like Baron, I think he'll learn it, too, if he knows there's going to be a score at the other end."
With 3-point shooting so central to the Warriors' identity, opponents generally like to keep close tabs on their perimeter gunners. Teams might force Webber to prove he can still be a prolific scorer before leaving a 3-point shooter to provide help.
"I can score, and if that's what happens, I'll take the shot," said Webber, who nevertheless doesn't expect a drop in 3-point attempts. "... I came here to fit into the system ... , not change it."
Defensively, Nelson doesn't expect Webber to be as explosive as the last time he was here, in 1993-94, but he thinks Webber's positioning and strength will enable him to guard opposing centers without needing much help.
Webber revealed no qualms about such an assignment, instead highlighting his bona fides earned last season with the Detroit Pistons: "I played on the best defensive team in the league last year, and I was the (center), so I'm pretty sure I can do that."
Notes: Nelson had planned to travel to Dallas today to give one or two days' worth of testimony in his arbitration battle with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, but the deposition is on hold. Nelson is fighting for $6.6 million in deferred payments he says are owed by Cuban and the Mavericks. ... Forward Austin Croshere practiced Monday, his first workout with the team since mid-January, when he was sidelined for the third time this season by a sore back. ... Nelson was disappointed in the quality of his team's work Monday after two solid weekend efforts, saying Davis took the practice "off ... even though he was here." Nelson plans to give Davis today off in earnest.
Contact Geoff Lepper at email@example.com.