The Golden State Warriors enter the 2013-14 season with an unpredictably improved squad from last year’s playoff team. The Warriors addressed the loss of Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack (to the Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively) by bringing in Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights and Jermaine O’Neal. Signing veteran Jermaine O’Neal over teams like the Dallas Mavericks is slightly notable, demonstrating the Warriors growing allure, but nothing is too surprising here.
Andre Iguodala on the other hand — hats off to anyone who predicted the Warriors three-team trade to land Andre Iguodala. Adding such an elite player, while maintaining the young core of last year’s successful playoff squad, makes the Warriors a serious threat in the Western Conference for years to come.
Iguodala adds a plethora of options for Mark Jackson to exploit oppositions. Tej Kamaraju’s (@TejKSports) article Golden State Warriors: 3 Combos that Andre Iguodala Creates explores Iguodala’s compatibility with Barnes, Thompson and Curry. The pairs: “Smash Brothers” (Iguodala with Harrison Barns), the “Defending Duo” (with Klay Thompson), and “The Compromisers” (with Stephen Curry). While the names may not stick, all three combinations with Iguodala will benefit the Warriors on the floor. The “Smash Brothers” combination will be especially beneficial, that matchup in practice will hopefully elevate both of their games.
While Iguodala adds depth, his arrival also brings to question, who will start for the Golden State Warriors? When healthy, Stephen Curry will always start. Coach Jackson could put Thompson, Iguodala and Barnes in for a smaller lineup with either Andrew Bogut or David Lee. He could play with a traditional center and power forward, leaving two spots for Klay, Andre and Harrison.
Too much talent is the type of problem you want to have, and the real crux of the issue is the balance between Klay Thompson(6’7″), Andre Iguodala(6’6″) and Harrison Barnes(6’8″): the tree headed monster.
All three can defend, can score twenty a night with different styles, and are sized like small forwards but can play multiple positions. So who gets to start between the three?
In a very mature move, Harrison Barnes said that he “wouldn’t mind” filling the roll of sixth man last year in Mark Jackson’s system.
He knows that starting doesn’t necessarily equate to more minutes first hand: last year Jarrett Jack averaged 29.7 minutes per game while Barnes played only 25.4. Harrison is clearly on board with Coach Jackson’s ‘we’ first mentality; if the whole team embraces this attitude I see then the starting order can be readjusted on a game-to-game basis.
Nevertheless someone will not start, and come off the bench most games. I keep asking myself “could Iguodala be their sixth man?”
No, of course not, he’s an All-Star, All-NBA Defensive Second Team presence. The headline acquisition by the Warriors should be featured to demonstrate to fans that it was a good move, right? Well, wrong. Ownership endured fans’ criticism during the Ellis for Bogut trade, knowing it benefited the team in the long run.
Iguodala is 29, and his playing intensity would revitalize any team off the bench; further, playing off the bench will prolong the quality of his play later into his career. The Warriors agreed to a four-year deal with Iguodala, the young team appears poised to make playoff runs each of those four years, and lets face it, as Iguodala ages, he will eventually lose his explosiveness. Age also increases the chance of injury. As a sixth man, Iguodala brings a strangling defensive presence in addition to his offensive capability. However, coming off the bench psychologically affects any regular starter so playing from the bench could be out of the cards for Iguodala.
Whoever fills the roll as the Warriors sixth man will get plenty of playing time.
Coach Jackson will determine his lineups, and I see Iguodala far more preferable as the Warriors sixth than Harrison Barnes in terms of experience, and his ferocity and ability as a shot creator makes him preferable to Klay Thompson.
The question might be asked all year: who is the Warriors sixth man?
It could David Lee, or Klay Thompson. Harrison Barnes is willing to fill the role – and that’s what’s most important. The question of the sixth man isn’t about the better player, the real question, who is willing to put team in front of self.
As the season gets underway in October, and as Jackson reveal the starting squad, the sixth man question will be answered. Whoever fills the role properly — he who shows selfless maturity — will be one of the few sixth men seriously accounted for in game-plans.
He may get more minutes than the other starters, and he will be the first the fresh legs to aid the cause each night. He may not be the same player each night, but whoever he is, fans will boast that he’d start for any other team in the league.