The Warriors have their first winning streak of 2012. After crushing the Lakers by 40 on Friday, Golden State’s summer league squad knocked off the Denver Nuggets 95-74 yesterday. And while the caveat about reading too much into summer league games (from Vol. 1) still applies, there were still a few lessons to be learned from Saturday’s installment.
1. Draymond Green Will Help the Warriors
Look past the 1-for-5 shooting performance and the seven fouls (isn’t summer league great?). Green had the highest plus-minus on the team against Denver, with a +24. He proved again that he has the highest basketball IQ on the summer league roster, making smart passes, playing unselfishly and throwing his body all over the court.
Green is going to be a rotation player this season, according to Jerry West, and it looks like he may even steal some of Harrison Barnes’ minutes. Green adds toughness and smarts to a team that lacks a little of both at times. He hustles and is very vocal on defense. I’d be willing to bet that there will be more than a few games this season in which Green finishes with unspectacular stats, but is instrumental in engineering a win.
2. Harrison Barnes Plays Small
Well, at least he did against Denver. When Barnes was on the floor, it was hard to believe he’s listed at 6’8″. The No. 7 pick tied for the team lead in rebounds with seven, but it was the offensive end where Barnes seemed to shrink. It looks like his NBA game is going to consist of a lot of spot-up shots and one-dribble pull-ups, which is probably what the Warriors expected. But those sorts of shots don’t take advantage of the fact that Barnes has such good size and athleticism.
Jerry West joined the telecast for the game’s second quarter and addressed this very issue. West said the main things the Warriors wanted to see from Barnes were increased aggressiveness and more drives to the basket. West mentioned Barnes’ athleticism, but also cautioned that a 40″ vertical leap (which Barnes registered at the NBA draft combine) didn’t count for much if a player couldn’t use that athleticism in a game. Though probably not a direct shot at Barnes, the criticism does apply.
To maximize his effectiveness, Barnes must play like an athletic 6’8″ small forward, not a 6’3″ guard. Playing as he did, Barnes took a number of contested jump shots, and finished an inefficient 5-for-17 from the field. Hopefully, Barnes will take West’s advice and start attacking the basket.
3. Charles Jenkins Is Not a Point Guard
For the second game in a row, Jenkins’ handle looked shaky. It wasn’t just his four turnovers in 30 minutes (against just one assist), it was also the fact that he visibly struggled to maintain his dribble more than once just coming up the floor. You can bet that if Jenkins does get minutes this year as the primary ballhandler, he’s going to see some full-court pressure.
To be fair to Jenkins, he wasn’t a point guard at Hofstra, either; he was a scorer. And judging by Saturday’s game, that’s what Jenkins still is. He scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting against Denver. Much like the end of last season, Jenkins showed he can knock down a 20-footer. Unfortunately, excelling at the most inefficient shot in basketball (the long 2-pointer) might not be a great thing.
Jenkins is a scorer, and is probably miscast as a backup point guard. Fortunately for the Warriors, the addition of Jarrett Jack means Jenkins won’t see much time on the floor this season. What minutes he does play should probably be alongside Jack or Curry, where he’ll be more comfortable as a scoring option, rather than a distributor.
4. Jeremy Tyler is Still Missing
Let’s hope the reason Tyler played under 10 minutes on Saturday was that the Warriors wanted to get a longer look at Justin Burrell. I know I’ve seen enough of Burrell in two games to know that he’s not an NBA player—the Warriors probably have that figured out by now, too. But for Tyler, who has been saying all the right things lately, his disappearance is concerning. He went scoreless against Denver, turning the ball over three times and committing four fouls.
If he pulls another no-show in the Warriors’ next game, it won’t be a good sign.