NBA Roundtable

2012 Team Preview: Golden State Warriors

In Season Previews on October 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Golden State Warriors

Starting Lineup

  • PG – Steph Curry
  • SG – Klay Thompson
  • SF – Richard Jefferson
  • PF – David Lee
  • C  – Andrew Bogut

A good starting lineup. An explosive backcourt with a top ten PG and possibly a top ten SG also. A top twelve starting center in Bogut. A middle of the pack starter in David Lee. A below average but serviceable starter in Richard Jefferson.

The backcourt is what catches my eye the most so I’ll start here.

Steph Curry is a hugely talented offensive player. A very strong scorer/shooter who is capable of scoring 20+ points per game. A smart floor general who is a well above average passer / playmaker / decision maker. However, Steph Curry still lacks some confidence directing a team. Hopefully, he’ll gain in that area this season with Monta Ellis out of picture and Curry now the undisputed ball-handler and creator on the team. Very efficient offensively. One of the most effective point guards in the league offensively. Lacks strength and know-how defensively but has the talent to become a middle of the pack defender/rebounder with some time and work.

Klay Thompson had a very interesting rookie season. Looked great coming off screens and creating shot-attempts for himself. A very good jump-shooter. Very reliant on long jump shots. Doesn’t get enough attempts at the rim or at the FT line. Hurts his consistently / effectiveness as a scorer on nights when he isn’t shooting the ball at a high level. Has good size (6-7, 210lbs) and should become a quality defensive player in time. A very impressive young prospect.

Richard Jefferson is the current placeholder at small forward. A good defensive player, horrific rebounder and very good shooter / complementary offensive player. The Warriors can make-do with Jefferson as their starter until a better option comes along (hopefully Harrison Barnes sometime in the future).

That brings us to the two big men who we have a fair bit to talk about:

I’ll start with Andrew Bogut. One of the best centers in the league a few years ago. Third team All-NBA. A top five center in the league. However, since then, Bogut has suffered a horrific injury to his wrist (and other body parts) and his offensive game has fallen off a cliff. Bogut was horribly inefficient in his first year back (49.5% TS%) and looked just as weak offensively (sub-50% TS%) before an early (only 12 games)  season injury last year. If that decline is indeed permanent and it looks probable that it is, then Bogut’s overall value has decreased considerably (probably not an All-Star anymore).

Andrew Bogut is a very good defender/rebounder. However, Bogut almost certainly benefited from playing under Scott Skiles (best defensive coach in the league for me) and given his lack of quickness/athleticism, it’s likely that Bogut’s huge impact defensively in Milwaukee will see a drop-off under Mark Jackson next season. So offensively, a good passer + while his scoring effectiveness may have dropped, Bogut is still a threat especially when matched up against a weaker defensive player. An impact player. A well above starter but not an elite player.

David Lee has been a very productive player on bad teams for a few years now. A weak defensive player as both a man-to-man and team defender. A good rebounder but doesn’t box out well enough in recent years. A very effective offensive player as a center where his quickness, jump-shooting, ball-handling and passing skills (high post play) makes him a matchup problem. Against quicker more mobile power forwards, David Lee is a much less creator. His high post shot-creation declines greatly and he lacks the post game to punish defenders his own size. So his effective scoring drops from about (17-20ppg on TS% of 58-62% at center vs 14-16ppg on 54-55% TS% at power forward). With that drop offensively from center to power forward and combined with his negative value defensively, David Lee is not a high level player at power forward. A middle of the pack starter.

Bench

  • PG – Jarrett Jack
  • SG – Brandon Rush, Charles Jenkins
  • SF – Harrison Barnes
  • PF – Carl Landry, Draymond Green
  • C  – Festus Ezeli, Andris Biedrins, Jeremy Tyler

A very strong second unit. One of the best backup big men in the league in Carl Landry, a high level backup guard in Jarrett Jack and a very good backup wing Brandon Rush. Ezeli looks like he may be a capable backup center. A pair of good third string bigs in Biedrins and Draymond Green.

Carl Landry is the main man here. An excellent shot-creator and low post scorer off the bench. Probably the best in the league (bench wise). A strong enough post scorer to be the main go-to option in the second unit. An average defensive player (amongst backup PFs) but lacks size/length as a man-to-man defender. A weak rebounder.

Jarrett Jack is a very good backup point guard who can also play some two guard also. A tough minded veteran player. A decent defender (albeit slightly below average). A solid rebounder. A solid scorer who gives a team some dribble penetration, finishing at the rim, draws some fouls and hits some outside shots. Not a strong offensive player but a capable one. Likewise, a solid passer.

Brandon Rush is a very good defensive shooting guard and above average rebounder. A high level spot-up shooter from three point range and has become a good finisher at the basket. A very efficient spot up shooter. A limited ball-handler / passer which hurts his ability to be a starting two guard (which is what you’d expect from a defender/rebounder with his shooting ability). A big powerful two guard who is big enough to play some small forward also.

Harrison Barnes is a major unknown for the Warriors. My expectations for him are fairly low (in the immediate sense) though. I think he’ll struggle as both a defender and as a rebounder. A limited passer also. Struggled a bit with his shot-creation in college so I’d expect him to struggle initially in the NBA also. Oh, Barnes was a slow starter in college too so he’ll probably be one in the NBA also. Long term, Barnes shows good promise as both a shooter and a versatile shot-creator and has enough size/athleticism to become a quality defensive player and rebounder down the road.  I just don’t think he’ll be there right away as a rookie.

Festus Ezeli has earned a lot of plaudits for his play in training camp and there first few preseason games. Has a great physique at 7 feet with 270lbs. A strong muscular frame. So Ezeli has the physical talent / readiness to be successful as a rookie. He has also been praised for his tough minded and defensive orientated mindset. So as a 5-10 minute a night situational backup, I think he’ll be a useful player (although Ezeli may struggle if playing time was increased if Bogut went down for any length of time).

Andris Biedrins is a weak defender, good rebounder and a useful but limited offensive threat. A good finisher around the basket. Great quickness running the floor. Had a nice one dribble drive and lefty finish under Don Nelson which has since disappeared from his arsenal. Was a productive 12-14ppg scorer for awhile. An awful FT shooter whose low confidence at the line has hurt his aggressiveness offensively.

Draymond Green looks a very interesting third string forward. Very intelligent. Good shooter. Very good passer. Good ball-handler. He will struggle defensively. Was a good rebounder in college. Experience college player who should be ready to contribute in a minor role.

Overall

A lot rides on the health of Andrew Bogut. A good playoff caliber team (47-50 wins) if Bogut is healthy. If he returns to his peak performance level, a 50-53 win team. If Bogut misses a large amount of time, Golden State could fall to a .500 or slightly above level. That may be enough to cost them a playoff spot.

So it’s hard to say due to the unpredictability of Bogut’s health (and to a lesser degree, Steph Curry).

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