Kelenna Azubuike Should Be In the Starting Lineup For The Golden State Warriors

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IJanuary 3, 2009

There's no doubt in my mind that Kelenna Azubuike should be in the starting lineup for the Golden State Warriors. The question is why is Marco Belinelli starting and while Azubuike comes off the bench? 

Now, don't get me wrong; Belinelli has improved every aspect of his game. He no longer can be considered just a shooter, but I believe Azubuike just gives the Warriors a better chance to stay out of foul trouble and play solid defense, while Belinelli is more of instant offense and would be a perfect sixth man. 

Not long ago it was Azubuike stepping in for the injured Jason Richardson in the Warriors starting lineup and doing a great job in Richardson's place. He was the reason Richardson became expendable because Azubuike was much cheaper. 

Now, one may wonder, how does a player who only averaged 7.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, and .7 assists could replace the production of Richardson who averaged 16 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists? The answer is youth. Azubuike just turned 25 years of age and Richardson will soon be 28. 

Another concern with the Warriors with Richardson was his health, considering he missed 31 games due to a variety of injuries. More specifically to the knee that required surgery, and granted, that was the only season that Richardson missed a significant time with injury. 

Azubuike continues to impress with his hustle on defense and even if he does get beaten off the dribble, he has the ability to block shots. An example of this is on JR Smith here, and don't forget what he did to Dahntay Jones as well. Azubuike was even able to block a layup attempt by Rajon Rondo. 

Azubuike should be starting for the Warriors. Even though he started the season slowly, especially from beyond the arc, he is now up to 40.7 percent and his free throw percentage is nearing 80 percent. 

I think the best lineup right now for the Warriors is a lineup of C.J. Watson at point guard, Kelenna Azubuike at shooting guard, Stephen Jackson playing small forward, and Brandan Wright (if he's healthy) at power forward, with Andris Biedrins at center. 

Right now Belinelli is better suited to come off the bench and provide instant offense.

Azubuike is better suited to start because he is the more complete player, and the team would benefit from him getting into the flow of the game early.