Although the Golden State Warriors future currently looks bright, their playoff hopes largely ride on the health of two injury prone ankles belonging to star point guard: Stephen Curry.
Without him, the Warriors’ chances of staying above .500 are likely dashed, and without a true back up point guard on the roster, the Warriors could be in dire straights if Curry goes down with a serious injury.
Here’s a few scenarios that could play out if the Warriors sharpshooting guard misses long stretches of the 2013-14 season:
The Warriors Trade For a Fringe Starting PG:
Players like Jarrett Jack, Jose Calderon and Jeremy Lin have all started on decent teams, but are best suited in a reserve role coming off the bench. While each of them has an undesirable contract, with Jack and Calderon signing long-term deals this offseason, there are other point guards around the league that the Warriors could explore trading for at a more reasonable price.
If a trade doesn’t come through, the Warriors already have a contingency plan for what to do at the backup point guard spot: use Andre Iguodala.
Yes, there will be a lot of turnovers, and yes, Iguodala is best used off the ball, cutting through the lanes, but he does have a high career assist average. By handling the ball more, the Warriors offense wouldn’t look too different, especially if head coach Mark Jackson can convince Iguodala to stop depending so heavily on isolations and become a more passing point guard than his usual quick trigger finger small forward.
Another option the Warriors have if Curry goes down for extended time is bumping up the minutes that reserve Kent Bazemore plays. He played spot minutes in mostly garbage time last year, but proved to quite possibly be the best player in this past Las Vegas Summer League, highlighted by this play:
Bazemore has shown the ability to handle the rock, distribute the ball at a high rate and has given the Warriors hope that he could be the quality backup point guard they were hoping he could be when the took a chance on him last year.
One thing is for sure if Curry goes down: the offensive load will be dumped on David Lee, and because of his great passing ability, the Warriors can run elbow extended plays through him more. While he isn’t a true stretch four–defenders don’t have to guard him all the way at the three-point line–he does space the floor enough that he opens lanes for cutters. Expect Lee’s numbers to jump up across the board if Curry cannot play.
Another player who could see a large jump in minutes is Klay Thompson. He will get more looks at the basket, and may even have to handle the ball more. But due to the higher minutes he will have to play, his numbers will go up due to pure volume of shots.
Barnes could also find himself back in the starting lineup if Jackson wants to go big and play Iguodala at the one. This would give the Warriors a very interesting lineup, especially if Barnes goes back to playing the stretch four like he did in the playoffs. The Warriors could potentially put out a lineup with the smallest player being Andre at 6’6″.
The future of this team rests on two ankles, and the Warriors will go as far as Curry can take them. If he does miss time, the only saving grace will be getting him healthy for the playoffs. Even if they can only grab an eighth seed, the Warriors could ride Curry’s hot hand to an upset in the playoffs.