The close of the 2013-2014 season left Golden State Warriors fans wondering how the team can improve.
A new head coach will certainly improve the odds, but it all boils down to the roster the team brings to play. With the impending season coming upon us, as fans, we must ask ourselves, “How can our roster realistically improve in order to compete with the best of the best?”
Simply, the question can be summed up by one word: depth.
The guard line-up (as of the first week of August) consists of the returning Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Nemanja Nedovic, as well as new additions Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush (though, Rush did spend time with the Warriors in 2011 and 2012). These two additions are a significant improvement over last year’s backup guards: Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford.
Livingston is a capable ball handler and a willing passer, as well as a great guard in the post. At 6’7″, he is a solid defender and exactly who is needed to back up Curry and give him the rest that he needs. If Rush can return anywhere near his 2011 form, the bench’s backcourt will be a great fill in for our starting guards. As of now, guard depth is solid and isn’t a major issue.
Iguodala was a great addition last year, but unfortunately, his season was plagued by injuries. On paper, the depth of their forwards seems solid. The reality of it depends on the play of Barnes. Green had a great year, taking huge strides in becoming a great defender and a swiss-army-knife player, doing a little bit of everything. Barnes was a bit more disappointing, succumbing to what some would call the Sophomore slump. His slump is generally chalked up to a combination of a loss of his starting position as well as the ineffectiveness of ex-head coach Mark Jackson in using him correctly. If Steve Kerr can find a way to optimally use Barnes off the bench, their primary forward depth issues may be solved.
Speights was a solid back up occasionally, and if he can become a bit more consistent on both sides of the court, the forward depth should be good to go moving forward.
Ah, the center position.
The center position will be manned by Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, and Ognjen Kuzmic. For those of you who forgot (or have repressed their memories), Bogut was injured at the tail end of the season, meaning that he was out of the playoffs. Bogut is a fantastic defensive center, and gives our team both the rim protector and the grit that the Warriors need. The issue is that his absence isn’t uncommon. Thus, they need a back up center who can at least provide some sort of utility. With the departure of Jermaine O’Neal (well, departure until he declares otherwise), next up we have…. Festus Ezeli.
For the newer Warrior fans, Ezeli was drafted in 2012 with the 30th overall pick, but missed the 2013-2014 season due to a knee injury. Ezeli is a solid defensive center, but not much more. His offensive game is far from refined, his passing is lacking, and more often than not, his hands are stones and refuse to catch the ball. Ezeli would be a solid back up with the second unit, providing a bit of defense here and there, but nothing more than that. And unfortunately, Kuzmic has less to offer than Ezeli.
Here is where the primary issue stands. The center position lacks some serious depth, and the Warriors cannot expect that Bogut will be healthy 100% of the time.
Though added depth would be nice everywhere, it is imperative that the center position becomes more solidified.
Tags: Golden State Warriors