Having had the good fortune to visit Oakland recently (nobody’s ever said that, by the way), I took in the Golden State Warriors’ second preseason contest on October 8. I had a few thoughts and made a few notes during said contest, which the Dubs won 83-80, and am now pleased to share them with the vast readership of this internet website.
Thought No. 1: Harrison Barnes Has a Post-Up Game
After showing a couple of nice moves on the block against the L.A. Lakers in the Warriors’ first preseason game, Barnes expanded his previously hidden offensive arsenal against the Jazz. After coming in off the bench—as he did against the Lakers—Barnes went to work almost immediately, putting down a nasty dunk off of a slick David Lee handoff. Barnes mashed through traffic, drew the foul and made the free throw.
It was probably the highlight of the night. But What Barnes did on a few of his later touches was the real cause for excitement.
Unbeknownst to me, Barnes has a nice little post-up game. He operated primarily in the mid-post area on the left side. With a live dribble, Barnes proved he could use his lightning first step to the right, get his left shoulder past his defender and swoop into the middle of the lane. That move resulted in a pair of very impressive opportunities for Barnes at the rim. He even showed a counter spin back to the baseline later in the game.
If Barnes has a real game on the block, he’ll have raised his NBA ceiling from likely 10-year vet to probable All-Star. I cannot overstate how big a benefit Barnes would be to the Dubs’ offense if his work down low isn’t just a mirage.
Thought No. 2: The Offense Needs Stephen Curry
Curry made his preseason debut against the Jazz, starting the game and playing just 12 minutes before leaving in the second quarter. Don’t worry, he was just tired and the early exit was planned by the coaching staff. There were no ankle catastrophes.
When Curry was on the floor, it was abundantly clear that the offense, at least at this point, functions far better with him in charge. To start the game, Curry orchestrated about eight quality looks in a row. The Warriors didn’t capitalize on all of them, but they got excellent shots at the rim and wide open ones on the perimeter.
When Curry wasn’t leading the offense, things sputtered, and frankly, looked a lot like they did last year. That’s not a good thing, in case I was unclear. Jarrett Jack has a nice track record, so there’s no reason to panic at this point. But he didn’t run the show nearly as well as Curry did. Of course, I guess the fact that Curry’s important to the offense isn’t a revelation.
Thought No. 3: Festus Ezeli Is a Good Backup Center Already / The Warriors Played Small Far Too Often for This Writer’s Liking
Combined points. Festus Ezeli is really good. He’s huge, he’s strong, he rebounds, he blocks shots, he understands where to be on defense and he has surprisingly decent hands. Ezeli had a critical late-game block the helped the Warriors retain a three-point lead, and he contested Randy Foye’s desperation attempt to tie the game as time ran out.
If he ever adds any semblance of an offensive repertoire to his game, he’ll be a starting center for a long time. Obviously, he’s not better than Bogut, but you get the point.
With Ezeli’s emergence in mind, it was puzzling that Mark Jackson played Carl Landry with David Lee (and no center) together so often. If that’s a lineup construction we’re going to see this season, we have a problem. The Warriors have bigs this year; get them out there, Mark!