The Golden State Warriors may have been blessed with superstars throughout their championship years, but they also had high-quality veteran bench pieces who were critical to the team’s success. It’s a part of the team that was critically missed last season.
Put simply, the Warriors struggled heavily whenever Stephen Curry was off the floor. It was the source of frustration for many Warrior fans, particularly when Curry would sit for the first 5-6 minutes of fourth quarters in highly contested, close match-ups.
If the Golden State Warriors are going to make the most of next season, it’s going to be pivotal that they’re able to succeed in non-Stephen Curry minutes.
It was a difficult balance that coach Steve Kerr needed to manage. Fortunately for him, and the entire Warriors franchise, they seem much more prepared for the non-Curry minutes heading into this season.
The balance will now come down to the second unit being successful, whilst also being an avenue to develop the team’s younger players. With this in mind, and Kerr’s history of using Curry and the older core, here’s how a second unit could look throughout the regular season.
Point Guard – Jordan Poole
The Warriors may still be on the lookout for a backup point guard, but at the same time they seem content on handing more responsibility to one of the biggest positives from last season.
After spending time in the G League mid-season, Poole surprised plenty with an ultra-impressive second half of the season. Expect him to lead the second unit as the Warriors sixth man, combining with minutes alongside Curry to potentially become a sixth man of the year candidate.
Shooting Guard – Klay Thompson
Thompson is obviously a starter, but historically, prior to his two devastating injuries, Kerr has liked to pull him midway through the first quarter and then use him in the second unit. One of the Warriors’ biggest issues last season was a lack of shooting, particularly in the non-Curry minutes. Adding a top five shooter of all time helps alleviate those issues.
Small Forward – Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins was a staple of the non-Curry minutes last season, taking on more responsibility as a ball-handler and playmaker. Expect this to continue throughout next season.
Power Forward – Jonathan Kuminga
How much playing time Kuminga earns is still a debate; however, his play during Summer League has only increased the chances of playing a meaningful role during his rookie season.
A second unit shouldn’t necessarily revolve around the seventh overall pick, but this lineup could provide Kuminga with the best opportunity to develop whilst providing productive minutes.
The most impressive part of Summer League has been his ability to get to the rim, whether it be off the dribble with his handle, or by simply using his size and athleticism to overpower his defender.
How many backup power forwards are going to be able to deal with that, particularly if he’s surrounded by four high-level shooters? The next question comes on whether he’s going to be able to make the right play and kick the ball out should a help defender rotate.
Center – Nemanja Bjelica
Playing Bjelica next to the likes of Wiggins and Kuminga could allow them to take advantage of their biggest strengths – using their athleticism and strength to get to the rim.
Bjelica’s presence as a three-point shooter could be invaluable in pulling opposition centers outside the paint. James Wiseman and Kevon Looney may be ahead of him in the center rotation, but they can easily share the Curry minutes.
The Warriors bench and overall depth should be much improved heading into next season. This line-up doesn’t even include free agent signing Otto Porter Jr, 14th overall pick Moses Moody, or the returning Andre Iguodala, all of whom will get minutes in the Warriors rotation.