With the swell of new players coming onto the squad for the Golden State Warriors, there’s bound to be plenty of shuffling at guard and forward positions during training camp. Sparks Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack have gone elsewhere (they incidentally got very similar contracts to each others’ with their new teams). Journeymen Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins have finally been offloaded, bidding farewell to a poorly constructed trade and to the last vestige of the “We Believe” era. Despite all the new guys replacing them though, the starting lineup will remain largely the same. Stephen Curry will remain starting point guard, Klay Thompson (it looks like) will continue to start beside him, and there’s no reason to believe that David Lee and Andrew Bogut won’t retain starting status. As of today, the only major change should be Andre Iguodala taking the starting spot at small forward from Harrison Barnes.
What this all means is that most of the position battles will take place among the bench players. That’s a pretty heft mix of guys. That begs the question: between frontcourt players and backcourt ones, which set of training camp battles holds more intrigue?
As of September 4th, the Warriors have 12 guaranteed contracts and three additional non-guaranteed and partially-guaranteed contracts. That means that they have 15 players set up for camp. Let’s break them down into back vs. frontcourt.
Backcourt: Stephen Curry (PG), Toney Douglas (PG), Seth Curry (G), Nemanja Nedovic (PG), Kent Bazemore (PG/SG), Klay Thompson (SG)
Frontcourt: Andrew Bogut (C), David Lee (F/C), Andre Iguodala (G/F), Draymond Green (SF), Festus Ezeli (Injured-C), Harrison Barnes (SF), Jermaine O’Neal (PF/C), Marreese Speights (PF/C), DeWayne Dedmon (C)
Note: DeWayne Dedmon doesn’t currently show on the roster, but USA Today’s Sam Amick reports he has reached an agreement with the team. The 7’0 undrafted rookie was listed 74th on Chad Ford’s list of 2013 prospects for ESPN.
I’m calling the front court as more intriguing for now, mostly because there’s more room for movement as of right now. The backcourt shouldn’t see much movement beyond possibility for the younger Curry to make a reason for himself to make the roster, possibly at the cost of 1st-round pick Nedovic’s game time. Other than that, Douglas will end up as the primary point guard backup, and Thompson’s two-guard spot will likely be filled by Iguodala while he’s out and Barnes is back at the three.
There’s significantly more room for shuffling among big men, by sharp contrast. Though shooting guard is reportedly Iguodala’s natural position, most expect him to play small forward. His primary backup there will all but certainly be Harrison Barnes off the bench. The most interesting group here is how things will develop between Green, O’Neal, Speights, and new signing Dedmon.
Ezeli being out of commission for camp makes it more interesting yet. Speights hasn’t been entrusted with a particularly large role in any team thus far in his career, but there’s room for him to carve out a large role here in Ezeli’s absence. He’s well sized to play small forward, though he can run a small-ball center role as well. His biggest opponent will be O’Neal, an older (some would say washed-up) player with a reputation for injury. Given his age, reputation, and the fact that he doesn’t have Phoenix’s legendary medical staff, there’s room for Speights to pass him as a primary second center. Especially if O’Neal gets hurt.
Also interesting will be Draymond Green’s camp battles against other small forwards that may appear, which relies primarily on offensive improvement. He needs to move beyond his role as a defense and rebounding guy if he wants to be more prominently featured on this roster.
The recent signing of Dedmon is intriguing as well. He’s a great physical specimen at 7’0, having averaged 6.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in his last year at USC. With that size, he could make a surprising push at a 11th or 12th man backup center spot.
The Warriors will undoubtedly add more guys to their camp roster, but one thing is for sure: camp’s already shaping up to be very interesting.