Best Warrior - 2004
He was the last player invited to training camp in the fall, but for stretches of the season, Cardinal was what this year's iteration of the Warriors aspired to be: cagey, unselfish, overachieving. The fourth-year forward from Purdue threw himself at loose balls, boxed out on rebounds, drew fouls in the paint, hit his open jump shots -- all things a typical NBA player would never do without consulting his agent first. Cardinal's role evolved over the course of the year: He was initially a fan favorite, an honor automatically bestowed upon any slow, balding white dude slouching to the scorer's table in the final minutes of a blowout. Then he was a sixth man, an actual key to the Warriors' early-season success, and the applause was no longer condescending. Then he was an underused sixth man, and coach Eric Musselman would sigh every time a reporter asked about Cardinal's playing time. At year's end, Cardinal was averaging about 10 points and four rebounds per game. Of course, his court time dropped off considerably in the final months of the season, and the Warriors were back to playing their particular brand of basketball: stupid, selfish, and underachieving.