Feb 6, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) attempts a shot against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

What the Golden State Warriors Can Learn From the Oklahoma City Thunder

Apr 10, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guards Andre Miller (left) and Andre Iguodala (9) during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 96-86. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors made a huge splash in the offseason by acquiring free agent swingman Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala makes the Warriors a lot better. He is tremendously athletic and poses as a huge threat to opposing defenses. Not only that, he can man-up and guard the best player on the opposing team, whether it be LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or James Harden. The point is, he has several weapons in his arsenal and will be a huge contributor to the up-and-coming Golden State squad.

But the acquisition of Iguodala poses a relatively big question. Will he be in the starting lineup and who will he replace in it?

I think it’s clear that Iguodala should replace Harrison Barnes in the starting five. He can play point forward and allow Stephen Curry to play off the ball and get open off screens, while also driving and dishing out to Curry and Klay Thompson for jumpshots.

But if he does indeed start over Barnes, will it slow down the development of the young gun?

I don’t think so. We have seen this situation many times in the NBA, but one scenario in the recent past reminds of the Warriors’ current dilemma.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder still had James Harden, he was clearly better than the Thunder’s starting shooting guard, Thabo Sefalosha. However, he came off the bench for the majority of the time. Why so?

May 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) reacts against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half in game two of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at the AT

It’s simple. Oklahoma City already had a lot of offense on the floor in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Harden was, and is a great player, but is typically known for his offensive game, not for his defensive skills.

There is nothing wrong with that, but having three elite scorers on the court would probably cause a hectic and overwhelming scene unless it’s in the situation where the team is relying on buckets.

Sefalosha posed as a much better defensive presence and thus was able to keep his starting job over Harden. Was Harden the better player? Clearly. But the situation was only right for Sefalosha to start and match up against the best players on the opposing team.

This situation is very much what the Warriors are dealing with. Iguodala is more versatile and better defensively than Barnes, while Barnes is more gifted offensively.

However, at the start of the game, Iguodala can match up with guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant and lock in on them defensively, and he can do a much better job than Barnes can.

So all in all, I don’t think Iguodala will slow the development of Barnes.

In Golden State’s current scenario, it’s only fitting for Barnes to come off the bench. He will still be able to play big minutes as a reserve and can dominate the opponent’s bench players more than “Iggy” can.

Barnes will be able to create mismatch’s for the opponent and use his finely tuned offensive game to consistently score points for his team.

Tags: Andre Iguodala Golden State Warriors Harrison Barnes NBA Oklahoma City Thunder

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