Golden State Warriors: 10 Greatest Role Players in Warriors History

James Pearson@JKPIIICorrespondent IMay 1, 2012

Golden State Warriors: 10 Greatest Role Players in Warriors History

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    The NBA playoffs are full with teams who have vital role players contributing to their team's success.

    Having a player do whatever is needed of him in any game situation is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Well, if you are into winning. It's no coincidence that the Golden State Warriors' lack of key role players over the past years has led to numerous losing seasons. 

    Whether it resulted in a winning season or not, there have been quite a few role players that have passed through this franchise, doing whatever it took to help their team win. 

    Finding good role players is few and far between in the history of the Golden State Warriors franchise, but here are 10 players who will always be remembered for their contributions.

10. Brandon Rush

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    Sure, he has played only 65 games in a Warriors uniform, representing only 21 wins. But Rush had such a fine season that the Warriors would be foolish not to bring him back.

    In a shortened season mired with injuries, Rush exploded off the bench this year and contributed in any way needed.

    At times he was even the best player on the floor for the Warriors this year, even when Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry were both on it. Rush could lead the team in scoring, defend their opponent's best player and set the table for anyone else offensively.

    If the Warriors are serious about winning they need to keep this guy around.

9. Brian Cardinal

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    The Custodian!

    After bouncing around the league for a few years, Cardinal earned that nickname with the Warriors in the '03-'04 season when he averaged nearly 10 points and four rebounds per game.

    Not to mention out-hustling most everyone on the floor on most nights and being just flat-out fun to watch.

    His play that year earned him a seven-year, $45 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies the following season. That seemed ridiculous at the time, but hey his hard work and attitude were that good.

    That deal illustrates why it's so hard and so valuable to have role players.

    As soon as a player demonstrates that he can be that guy for any team, some team signs him to a contract like that, and he's then expected to be so much more. 

8. Matt Barnes

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    Barnes has carved himself out a nice little career as defensive stopper who can occasionally hit the three.

    Now a role player for a Los Angeles Lakers team vying for a championship, Barnes was instrumental in only the Warriors' third playoff run in the last 20 years.

    On a team loaded with offensive weapons, Barnes made a name for himself as the guy to come off the bench who infused a defensive mentality to the second unit.

    The best memory Golden State fans have—in the last 30 years anyway—is the upset over the Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs.

    It would not have happened without the toughness that Barnes brought off the bench.

7. Stephen Jackson

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    I don't like to use greatest and Stephen Jackson in any context, but here we are.

    Another key member of the Warriors' famous playoff run, Jackson was at his best when he wasn't a star.

    Or at least when he hasn't tried to be one.

    When he was a role player for the Warriors, Jackson was hitting timely shots while becoming a terrific defender who could guard just about any position on the floor. 

    Without him knocking down threes and defending Dirk Nowitzki, those '07 playoff memories never happen.

6. Sarunas Marciulionis

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    A two-time Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, Marciulionis was a fan favorite with his tough physical play.

    Marciulionis came off the bench and brought energy every time he checked into the game. He averaged a career-high 18.7 points on 53 percent shooting in the '91-'92 season, and has his memory entrenched as a key member of the Fun 'N Gun, small-ball Warrior teams of the '90s.

5. Rod Higgins

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    Higgins had seven successful seasons with the Warriors as he helped them reach the playoffs four times during his tenure.

    He was a versatile player who excelled in Don Nelson's system as he was able to come in and play on the wing or in the post. 

    Higgins was a vital member off the bench and was a Warrior staple in the '80s and early '90s. He averaged a career-high of 15.5 points in the '86-'87 season.

4. Jim Barnett

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    Widely known for being the long-time great Warrior announcer who tends to overemphasize the importance of going two-for-one at the end of each period, Jim Barnett, or "Crazy Horse" as was moniker, was a key player in his day.

    Barnett averaged 11.7 points for his career, but he was most known for out-working everyone, playing tough defense, diving on the floor and doing anything else that would earn someone the name Crazy Horse.

3. Jeff Mullins

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    Mullins was an outstanding collegiate player in his day, but he never quite lived up to his potential as a heralded college player at Duke.

    That trend started early, eh?

    However, Mullins did end up being a three-time All-Star for the Warriors, coming primarily off the bench.

    He was a key member of the Warriors' championship season in 1975, and despite being a sixth man for most of his career, he ranks sixth all-time in points for the Warriors.

    Mullins was never one to complain and did whatever was needed; when Rick Barry jumped to the ABA (amongst other things), Mullins stepped right in and helped ease the giant scoring hole left behind.

2. Jamaal Wilkes

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    While he was on the Warriors, Wilkes was instrumental in capturing the 1975 NBA title, and not quite a star yet.

    Wilkes played a key role in by doing all the little things to help the Warriors capture their lone NBA title in California.

    The Warriors had quite the luxury with him.

    Just like everyone else who becomes too good to be deemed a role player, Wilkes went on to great things with the Los Angeles Lakers—and the Warriors haven't had a player quite like him since.

    Although, most teams never do.

1. Al Attles

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    How do you get your jersey retired by a team on which you averaged eight points a game for your career?

    By doing whatever it takes to help your team win games.

    Attles was a key role player for his entire career for the Warriors, which he helped lead to two NBA finals appearances. Not to mention he was the coach that led the Warriors to that NBA title in 1975.

    A true professional and class act, Attles is truly one of the greatest Golden State Warriors of all time, and probably the nicest.