May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30, left) and power forward David Lee (10, right) react after game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 94-82. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Many could argue that the Golden State Warriors have had a pretty successful offseason, finding replacements for Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, and Andris Biedrins, as well as bringing in Andre Iguodala via sign-and-trade. Those are all exceptional moves right there, and the Warriors should be acknowledging the fact that they have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.
What they also have, however, is bench depth, which is what everyone thought they would lose at the departure of their two most important bench players. Signing Marreese Speights replaces Landry, Toney Douglas replaces Jack, and Jermaine O’Neal replaces Biedrins. These guys are all more than capable of filling the wholes the others created, and they’re cheaper as well.
Again, the Warriors are deep, but they can’t play eight players on the court at the same time. It’s time for Mark Jackson to create some lineups. Who do they want to play down the stretch, and whom do they want to be their boosting/power lineup?
1. Starters, Closers: Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Lee, Bogut:
You can’t get any simpler than the starting lineup, and why would anybody else be in the game late?
Other than foul trouble or injury, I don’t see any reason why these guys shouldn’t be playing the game down the stretch. Klay Thompson isn’t afraid of the big moment and is clutch, Stephen Curry knows how to take and make a 3-pointer, no matter how contested it is, Andre Iguodala is a ball-handler and does everything in the closing seconds, David Lee is an All-Star and Andrew Bogut is a great defender.
These guys belong in the game come crunch time. Thompson may be questionable in some peoples’ eyes, but he knows how to hit big shots down the stretch. The Splash Brothers both need to be in the contest in the fourth quarter, it’s just that simple.
2. Power Unit: Iguodala, Curry, Barnes, Speights, O’Neal:
In terms of scoring, it’s no secret that the Warriors’ two best players next year are going to be Iguodala and Curry. These two will be the rocks that the Warriors need in terms of offensive consistency. They will be the ones to give the Warriors big boosts.
Harrison Barnes is the Warriors’ bench scorer, and he’s the one that can provide the instant offense for the Warriors. This is what Brandon Rush used to do.
Speights is a great player and defender. When he’s in the game, he will work hard to get his baskets and that can sometimes be energy boosting. He’s active on the glass and should be a type of player that’s able to jumpstart the offense at any given minute. As for O’Neal, he may be a bigger scorer than Bogut. He also happens to play defense and get rebounds. Bogut doesn’t always give 100%.
Barnes and Iguodala in the game together could create the “Smash Brothers” where the two players relentlessly drive to the basket and finish with mind-boggling dunks.
3. Bench Explosion: Douglas, Thompson, Barnes, Speights, Lee
Two of these guys are starters, but still, the Warriors need some guys on the floor to lead their bench players. Douglas is bound to get some playing time, and if he’s getting his open shots off the dribble, he will be a huge help. He’ll be in there to facilitate with Thompson on the wing to shoot some deadly 3-pointers.
Barnes will be on the other wing for the dish-and-drive to the basket so that he’s able to jumpstart the offense. Speights and Lee will work together just as Landry and Lee did. The small lineups for the Warriors really seemed to work last season, so they’re bound to try it again.