The Golden State Warriors have made some major moves in this offseason, but much like how the Warriors signed Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack to little fanfare in the summer of 2012, they are attempting to make a few more under the radar acquisitions that will strengthen their bench and help them make a strong push in the playoffs in 2014. Two players the Warriors acquired this summer are journeyman big man Jermaine O’Neal and 23 year old Bosnian Center, Ognjen Kuzmic. While they are clearly at opposite sides of their career, each player will be given a chance to be a contributor off the bench. The question is, which player will have a bigger impact in 2013-14?
Both players are about seven feet tall and are considered true centers, but while Kuzmic is young, and still working on building out his frame, O’Neal is already an established true center who can hang with the best big men in the league. He is a solid post defender and while health is always the big question mark with O’Neal, if the Warriors can get at least 50 quality games from him this upcoming season, it should be seen as a major win for the Dubs.
Kuzmic is much more of a project, and should be treated like a prospect. He will get playing time in more beneficial matchups, and he should be working on making sure his energy is visibly tangible on the court and Mark Jackson can see that he is making an effort to adjust to the NBA game. He has some major bounce, and should be the big man the Warriors need to finish big buckets in transition, along with chasing down layups on defense via the chase down block, as made famous by LeBron James. No one is asking Kuzmic to come out and instantly dominate the league, but if he can show more promise than a highly drafted European prospect like Jan Vesely (who’s been a major disappointment for Washington), Kuzmic should at least prove himself worthy of the Warriors keeping him for a few years to see if he can become their center of the future.
While Kuzmic is not a great rebounder or shot blocker, that’s where O’Neal steps in. Having been in the league for 17 years already, O’Neal has learned a few things about how to prevent easy buckets in the paint. So ultimately, it comes down to what type of line up Mark Jackson wants on the floor. One that could run and gun in transition with Kuzmic as the high flying big man, or a lineup that defends the post and slows the game down, with the potential to play O’Neal next to Andrew Bogut and having one of the strongest front lines in the game.