The Golden State Warriors have had recent additions that have forced a restructuring of their reserves. Andre Iguodala’s decision to join the Dubs will push either Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson to the bench. In addition, it forced the Warriors to renounce their rights to Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, two solid contributors off the bench, who were forced to find work elsewhere.
Their departures forced general manager Bob Myers to retool the bench with some lesser known names: Marreese Speights, Jermaine O’Neal and Toney Douglas will join the bench mob of second year players–Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and Kent Bazemore, in hopes to provide support to the Warriors’ “six starters.”
The question is how will this shake out.
Obviously, the lion’s share of minutes will go to whoever is pushed out of the starting lineup, Barnes or Thompson. But after that, it all depends what kind of lineup pairing the Warriors decide to utilize.
Here are roles that each player on the bench will likely have throughout the season and the order that they will likely come off the bench:
6. Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson
Whichever one comes off the bench, they will have the same role: provide additional scoring punch and stretching the floor.
More so for Barnes, mismatches will become the staple of the Warriors’ lineup when they come off the bench. The “stretch” four position for Barnes was how he made his name in the postseason, and it likely this will be used more often in his second year. His quickness creates problems for bigger defenders while his strength and length gives smaller players problems as well.
Barnes is probably the most capable of breaking loose in any game because of his diverse skill set. Thompson will come in to basically do what he does best, shoot the ball from deep. His defense also will be key in providing energy off the bench if he does not start. But in any event, this “six starter” position will likely still get between 25 to 30 minutes a game to provide a significant impact in every game.
7. Draymond Green
Green showed he can defend and has a very high basketball IQ, which allows him to make an impact. Green shot poorly from the field in the Warriors’ first Summer League game, but went 12-of-14 for the line. He knew his shot wasn’t falling so he got his hay another way. He ended up with a +10 rating that led the team as well.
This is the kind of player he is–filling holes, so his rebounding and defense will be his staple off the bench. He also is an exceptional passer who the open man by making that extra pass. He will hold the ship for any starter who comes out for at least 15 to 20 minutes a game.
8. Marreese Speights
Speights’ game should resemble that of Carl Landry’s, at least somewhat. But he will not be leaned on as much to carry the offense for stretches like Landry did during many games last season. He can shoot the mid-range jumper and is a decent rebounder for his size.
Speights can even play a little bit of center in a pinch or with a small-ball group. He needs to bring energy on defense in order to earn more time, but he is a solid addition and should provide a little scoring punch for the bench unit.
9. Jermaine O’Neal/Festus Ezeli
Warriors fans should hope that O’Neal only has to play sparingly because that means that Andrew Bogut is relatively healthy. If he plays 10 to 15 minutes a game, that would be perfect.
O’Neal can still defend the rim and provides some low-post scoring, if needed. But he is not a game-changer. Think of him as more of an insurance policy. This role will probably go back to Ezeli when he works himself back into the lineup following knee surgery. If he comes back and is effective, do not expect O’Neal to play unless it is to give fouls on Dwight Howard.
10. Toney Douglas/Kent Bazemore
Both can hound the ball and that will be their primary objective. They will be asked to bring the ball up and start the offense, but they will not need to score probably unless in transition.
The backup point guard will always be a question because of Curry’s ankles, but also because of the thought of using Iguodala as a pseudo-backup as well. With that said, Douglas’ role could be big or small.
Bazemore’s role could be much larger if he proves to have worked himself into a consist offensive player. His size and length could prove to increase defensive efficiency of a bench unit that did not have much ability to make stops last season.