It seems like Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has taken a bit of a risk in the preseason by starting Harrison Barnes over Klay Thompson.
This may be to see how everything looks, but at the same time, could be permanent as well. Both Thompson and Barnes have expressed their nonchalance about coming off the bench, saying that the setback won’t affect them at all.
Both say that they will go for the Sixth Man of the Year award. This is a bold statement of course, and it’s not likely because of J.R. Smith, but it’s a nice gesture to show that neither of them are sulking, but will continue to strive for excellence. They are both young and have their whole careers in front of them. So far, based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, Thompson is very effective off the bench, playing with the starters and the bench players.
He has been receiving the most playing time, and on a given night, he should be in the game when closing time comes. What exactly is the problem with starting Barnes, then?
There aren’t any humungous holes that would leave the Warriors vulnerable, but one that automatically comes to mind would be the breakup of the Splash Brothers. Sure, they’ll be on the court at the same time, but the starting backcourt is what everyone judges. Barnes and Curry won’t be able to do much as an effective backcourt duo. Thompson and Curry, however, are two of the best shooters in the NBA, and it’s imperative that the Warriors keep them together.
Not only has Thompson showed his consistency, but he has earned a starting spot, whether he likes it or not. He needs to be in the game with Curry to be a defender, as Curry is weak in this area. Barnes has potential as a defender, but hasn’t yet worked on it as much has Thompson has. He is working on his game every day, and wants to be out there playing. As proven last year, Thompson and Curry were one of the most effective backcourts in the NBA. Breaking that up could be hurtful to the Warriors.
This “break-up” would be one of the biggest holes that starting Barnes would leave. On the other hand, however, it’s not like Curry and Thompson won’t play with each other at all. Barnes could be a good starter alongside Andre Iguodala, who could really play any position, but the Warriors will never know until they try it out.
No one foresaw Jackson taking a leap and starting Barnes, but he may just be experimenting here. Thompson, however, thinks this is permanent, and this hasn’t changed his mindset at all. There may some initial problems with starting Barnes, but both of them are set on winning. That’s the most important thing.