Golden State Warriors: Will Their Lack of Depth on the Bench Be An Issue?

Jan. 2, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Golden State Warriors bench reacts during a game against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Warriors 102-91. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports.

The Golden State Warriors have arguably the best six player rotation in the NBA. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut make up the team’s incredibly productive starting five. But after sixth man Harrison Barnes, there is a noticeable difference between their starters and bench players.

The Warriors starting five plays on average the third most minutes per game of any five-man group on the floor. They have a plus/minus of 6.4 and shoot 52.5 percent from three and 52.7 percent from the field. But the Warriors bench is not even close to matching the starters’ production level.

So far, the bench has been plagued by injuries. Toney Douglas was brought in to replace Jarrett Jack who left via free agency to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he is already injured and missing time, and so is old man Jermaine O’Neal.

Without Douglas, the Warriors are missing a true backup point guard. Curry has already missed three games, and in his absence, the team has chosen to move Igudoala to the point guard role and keep rookie Nemanja Nedovic on the bench. But after Friday nights loss to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors have lost Andre Iguodala as well.

After the game, Iguodala told Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle that he heard a pop. “Normally, I can just run it off and it will go away, but once I heard the pop, I knew it was serious,” he said. ”This one kind of worries me. I’ll take it seriously. … I’ll be back sooner than people think.”

The Warriors cannot afford to have Iugodala miss an extended period of time. Right now, they go about seven deep. Draymond Green is a productive bench player and has improved in his second season. So has Barnes, who has immediately thrown his hat into the Sixth Man of the Year conversation and looks much improved in his second full campaign.

But the team should be worried about the rest of its bench. Ognjen Kuzmic is shooting a dismal 28.6 percent and his point differential is minus 3.4 when on the floor. Nedovic is shooting only 18.2 percent, O’Neal is shooting only 36.8 percent and Marreese Speights’ shooting percentage and scoring averages are also well below his career averages.

Another worrisome stat about the Warriors second unit is that Green is the second unit’s leading rebounder, not Speights or O’Neal.

While the Warriors basically have a sixth starter on the bench, their roster becomes very shallow very fast. The San Antonio Spurs have eight players that play more than an  average of 20.0 minutes per game, the Los Angeles Clippers have seven, the Miami Heat have seven (and Rashard Lewis and Chris Andersen average 19 and 17 minutes per game respectively).

By comparison, the Warriors only have six players that play more than 20 minutes per game. And Barnes, their sixth man, is averaging almost nine minutes more per game then their seventh man Draymond Green.

The lack of depth on the Warriors roster is not an immediate problem, but if Iguodala misses an extended period of time or they suffer from another injury to one of their starters, the Warriors will struggle to make up the missing productivity.

Topics: Golden State Warriors

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