The Warriors announced their second free agent signing of the offseason after forward Brandon Rush agreed to the terms of a two-year, $2.5 million deal.
For Warriors faithful, the return of Brandon Rush was met with boundless enthusiasm.
Prime, then Decline
Fans remember his 2011-2012 season, when he served as a reliable contributor off the bench and a consistent 3-and-D player. Statistically, Rush was remarkably effective as a shooter, stroking it at a rate of 50.1% from the field and a lights-out 45.2% from the three-point arc. To put that into perspective, 45.2% would be a career high for Stephen Curry, who has been deemed as one of the most prolific shooters in league history. While the season may have been a slight anomaly, Rush is a career 40.9% shooter from beyond the arc, an impressive figure by any standards.
Rush’s career spiralled downwards after he tore the ACL in his left knee just two games in to the 2012-2013 season, causing him to miss the entire season. His presence was missed sorely, especially in the postseason, where the Warriors simply lacked the depth down the stretch to outlast the San Antonio Spurs. Ultimately, after the season ended, Rush was packaged in a deal to acquire Andre Iguodala and sent to the Utah Jazz.
Since then, Rush just hasn’t been the same player. He played only 38 games for the Jazz last season, failing to score in double-figures in every single one of his appearances. He was uncharacteristically inefficient from the three-point line, and couldn’t sink in to any kind of offensive groove.
While last season may have indicated that Rush’s career in decline, a shift of scenery may be exactly what it takes to revive him. After taking an entire season off for the Warriors and resting on the bench much of last season for the Jazz, Rush has completely recovered and is back in peak physical condition. In fact, the reason he generated interest amongst a handful of teams in the past few days as a potential free-agent acquisition was because of how impressive he looked in his workouts in Las Vegas.
But, he admitted in an interview last season that his struggles last year were more mental than physical. He wasn’t comfortable in the system he was a part of — which isn’t all that surprising considering the atrocious season the Utah Jazz had, as they finished last in the insanely competitive Western Conference.
Rush is familiar with the play of several of the Warriors’ core players, and built chemistry with them while he was a part of the squad. A brand new coaching staff will naturally introduce brand new offensive schemes, but Rush’s familiarity with several players on the roster should help him get acclimated quickly. Being part of a stable organization that is committed to team success should also help boost his confidence, and facilitate his transition process.
It may be unrealistic to expect Rush to immediately be the hot-shooting spark off the bench that he used to be, but allow him some time to readjust and 2014 might just be the comeback year he was hoping for.