The Golden State Warriors have made several upgrades to their roster this offseason. On paper, this roster is better than last year’s. Although it was rough to lose Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, the Warriors made some significant additions to the roster that more than made up for the loss of those two players. They upgraded not only their bench, but their starting lineup too.
Mark Jackson has said that he technically has six starters on his team, which isn’t a bad problem to have. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut are all more than capable of starting, so Jackson will have to decide which player would be the best sixth man.
It makes the most sense for the Warriors to start Thompson over Barnes. Barnes will excel in the role of sixth man, because he will be able to go up against weaker lineups, which will allow him to dominate his opposing small forward. Barnes would be the primary scorer off the bench, so, if anything, he will get even more chances to show off his game.
This is one of the reasons why Iguodala’s presence will help not only Barnes’ development, but also will help the whole team’s identity. On the court, Iguodala likes slashing to the basket, which will complement Curry and Thompson’s shooting very well. Iguodala is also athletic, versatile, and hard-working. His veteran presence will only help this team grow the team chemistry that they had last season.
On the bench, the Warriors have so many players that can contribute, besides Barnes. In the offseason, the Warriors acquired Toney Douglas, to fill Jack’s role of backup point guard, and Marreese Speights, to fill Landry’s role of backup power forward. They also acquired Jermaine O’Neal to fill the backup center role that Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins had last season. Biedrins was part of the trade to acquire Iguodala, and Festus Ezeli is currently out with a knee injury.
Douglas is an excellent defender. He gets steals, he gets deflections, and he’s quick and agile. He also can shoot the three pretty well, and he’s got a high basketball IQ. Just in training camp alone, he’s already made an impact. He’s helped Curry, Thompson, and others improve, because his defense is making them work harder and perform better.
Speights isn’t quite the scorer that Landry was, but he can shoot the mid-range shot. Defensively, he’s a better rebounder and shot blocker than Landry was though. Speights is also 6’10” and 245 pounds, so he can play both power forward and center. He’s 25, so he’s still developing his game and maturing. He will only continue to grow, so he’s a great addition to this Warriors team.
O’Neal is a 17-year NBA veteran and a six-time All-Star. His veteran leadership and size will help the Warriors. He’s played in 90 postseason games, so he can bring his experience to this young Warriors team. He’s 6’11” and 255 pounds, so he’s quite the inside presence. He blocks shots and rebounds, so he will help the Warriors’ defense.
In addition to those acquisitions, the Warriors also drafted Nemanja Nedovic with the 30th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. It’s not clear how many minutes Nedovic will play this season, but he is certainly an intriguing prospect. He’s extremely athletic, he’s great in the open court, he attacks the rim, and he’s fearless. He could work on his passing and ball distrbution skills. If given a chance, he could certainly upgrade the Warriors in the areas of athleticism, fearlessness, and ability to attack the basket.
During the summer, Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green participated in the Las Vegas Summer League. These two players led the Warriors’ Summer League team to winning the inaugural Las Vegas Summer League Championship. Both of them improved greatly because of this experience.
Bazemore is an excellent defender, and, according to many of the Warriors players and coaches, he has shown much improvement in many other areas too. He has improved his ball distribution skills, and he’s become a better shooter, even from three-point range. Douglas, Nedovic, and Bazemore can all play backup point guard, so it will be interesting to see how minutes will be distributed. Regardless, Bazemore will get more minutes this season, whether it be at backup point guard or shooting guard, because he’s worked hard and improved in the offseason.
Green has lost 15-20 pounds this offseason, which has improved his agility and fitness level. Losing this weight has also helped Green take some pressure off his knees. Green will be a great energy guy off the bench, and he does everything pretty well. Especially now that Green has a full season and playoff experience under his belt, his versatility and passion will be an even greater asset off the bench for the Warriors.
Even though he’ll be out the first few months of the season, Ezeli will be another quality weapon off the Warriors bench. He was thrown into a starting role last season when Bogut was injured, and he gained some valuable experience from that. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s improved once he returns from injury.
To add more depth at the center position, the Warriors have also signed their second round pick from last season, Ognjen Kuzmic. He is a 7’1″ center and is very athletic and mobile, given his size. He can rebound, block shots, and he can play defense. He needs to bulk up a little more, work on his post game, and work on a perimeter jumper though.
As if the Warriors weren’t already deep, they also have four quality prospects fighting for the final roster spot. Dewayne Dedmon is another 7-footer who can rebound and block shots. Joe Alexander is a forward who already has some NBA experience. Cameron Jones, a shooting guard, played for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season, and he’s a good defender and shooter. He also was a significant contributor to the Las Vegas Summer League championship team.
Lastly, Seth Curry, the younger brother of Stephen Curry, is a combo guard out of Duke who, like his brother, is a fantastic shooter and has some experience handling the ball. It’s unclear which player will get that final spot, but it would be great for the fans to see Curry get it.
Arguably, the biggest strength for the Warriors this season is their depth. The Warriors have the deepest roster in the NBA, and this is one of the reasons why they will be legitimate contenders in the Western Conference this year.