5. Nemanja Bjelica
Nemanja Bjelica was hardly a star in his lone year with the Warriors in 2021-22, but he’ll nonetheless be fondly remembered as in impactful rotation player throughout a championship-winning season.
The Serbian averaged 16.1 minutes across 71 regular season appearances with Golden State, often playing as the backup five to Kevon Looney. Bjelica offered something different for Steve Kerr; a European big man capable of shooting the ball from deep, while also possessing the ability to put the ball on the floor and find open teammates when required.
He would average 6.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists on the season, shooting a steady 36.2% from three-point range. His role would unsurprisingly diminish during the playoffs, but he still saw meaningful minutes in five of the six games in the NBA Finals. He also had some good moments when switched onto Jayson Tatum during that series — still hard to fathom even for Warrior fans.
His departure was actually felt more last season than most would have expected. The Warriors had hoped former number two overall pick James Wiseman would take on the backup center role, yet that was nothing short of a disaster.
Golden State also acquired another three-point shooting big man, JaMychal Green, who they’d hoped would fill the void of Bjelica and another player further up on this list. However, Green’s season was interrupted and the long-time veteran was ultimately never a fit in the Warrior system like Bjelica was.
The Warriors have seemingly addressed their mistake by crucially adding Croatian Dario Saric in free agency. While he should match or even better Bjelica’s production, the fact head coach Steve Kerr has compared the two on multiple occasions certainly shows that he and the franchise have missed ‘Belly’.