randolphThe Press Democrat’s Lowell Cohn has a great column about the start of the Warriors’ season and which players will be in that starting five Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets.

Four we know. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis at the guards, Stephen Jackson at small forward, and Andris Biedrins at center.

Which leaves the question mark facing us (and the Rockets). Who will start at power forward? A week ago, Don Nelson told Lowell (and other media members) that Corey Maggette would start at power forward. I agree with Lowell that Maggette is not a power forward. Even in a “small lineup,” that’s a stretch. Especially if you’re starting a small backcourt in Curry and Ellis. They’ll need defensive backup behind them and Maggette can’t provide that.

Today, it seems Nelson was re-thinking his Maggette plan. Here’s an excerpt from Lowell’s column:

Cohn: I’m going to follow up. Who is your starting 4 (power forward)?

Nelson (laughs): I’m smarter than that.

Cohn: So you don’t want to say.

Nelson: I think I’ve said enough.

Considering Nelson said nothing, it’s difficult to contend he said enough. And what’s the big secret, anyway? He should start Randolph. He only should bring Maggette off the bench. If he wants to start Ronny Turiaf at the 4, that would be interesting. But that means Nelson would have a big lineup and Nelson is stuck in terminal shrimp mode.

So, either Nelson is still planning on starting Maggette and simply playing coy to Cohn, or he’s considering Turiaf or Randolph at power forward. I think either option is better than Maggette. The reasons Nelson might want to start Turiaf is because he’s a good defender, a decent rebounder and a team-first, unselfish player (though he is foul-prone which might limit his ability to stay on the court). With a bunch of high-volume shooters on the court (Ellis, Curry, Jackson), Turiaf’s defense-first, unselfish style of play seems like a good fit.

However, I think that Turiaf is better coming off the bench. I want him on the floor, but I want him playing major minutes backing up both power forward and center (let Maggette be the backup at small forward). The great thing about Turiaf is he can play both frontcourt positions. Randolph can’t. I don’t want to see Randolph playing center. But I do think Randolph is a great complement to either Biedrins or Turiaf at center. And I believe Turiaf can also back up Randolph at power forward with Biedrins at center.

So, start Randolph if he’s healthy. Like Turiaf, Randolph is a great rebounder. He’s a good defender who is improving and has the potential to be a great defender. He plays hard, like Turiaf. And he brings much more offensively than Turiaf does. I hope we see Randolph in the starting lineup Wednesday night. I think that will ultimately be the decision Nelson makes. But honestly, none of us really have any idea, do we?

Here’s a link to Lowell’s column: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20091027/SPORTS/910279920/1010/SPORTS?Title=Cohn-Opening-night-guessing-game-for-Warriors