Free agency has begun and the Warriors snuck up and snared backup guard Jarrett Jack and have freed salary with the trade of SF Dorell Wright. They are still looking for a backup PF and awaiting the re-signing of RFA Brandon Rush.
Based on this information, let’s take a look at what I predict to be the 2012-13 Warriors roster:
Stephen Curry was injured for most of last year and is playing to receive a contract extension. The Dubs have yet to extend him because they want to confirm he is fully recovered.
Curry is all set for his breakout year. He has the talent around him and the skills to become a marquee player. Curry will look to improve on his 18.6 PPG average and 5.8 APG from two years ago.
Klay was a bright spot on last year’s injury depleted squad that mailed it in a little over halfway through the shortened season. He now has legitimate players surrounding him and should improve statistically from his 12.5 PPG average.
The only thing Klay will need to worry about is bringing it hard every practice and every game. This year is a crucial year of development and he can’t fall victim to the sophomore slump. The Dubs want to have Thompson around for the long haul and be one of the faces of the franchise.
Harrison Barnes will take over the spot for the recently departed Dorell Wright and can learn on the fly with Mark Jackson teaching him the fundamentals of NBA defense. Barnes will be backed up by Brandon Rush (once he comes to an agreement) and veteran Richard Jefferson, who has a lot of experience.
Barnes is liked for his athleticism at the wing position. He can shoot from the perimeter, drive to the rack and snag rebounds from the small forward position. He's considered to be a player who will be more successful as a pro than as a college player.
David Lee is improving in his third year with the Warriors. Some people say he is overpaid, but he still puts up good numbers (20.1 PPG and 9.6 RPG in 2011-12).
This is his third year in the Dubs' system, so he should take his game to the next level with the young talent around him and a legitimate center next to him. If he can improve his on-ball defending and his help defense, Lee will become a complete player.
Andrew Bogut will get to make his long-awaited debut this season and if he's healthy, he will be the fit the Dubs have been looking for since Nellie ball took over. He is a low post scorer and holds a strong inside presence.
Health is the biggest concern, as everyone knows. Bogut was banged up a lot in the past three seasons and missed substantial time. Hopefully, that history is done and he can show Warriors fans how he can score from the post, shoot mid-range, run the floor and pass like he is John Stockton.
Jack is exactly what the Dubs need as a backup guard. He is a hard-nosed defender that can take over for Curry in case of injury. Jack can play both the 1 and 2 and has contributed to each team he played for.
Jack averaged 15.6 PPG and 6.3 APG last year, so he can be an instant playmaker. He will provide veteran experience for the last year of his current contract. The insurance policy will also be playing for his next contract as he will become an unrestricted free agent next year, so he will be playing at the top of his game.
They have other small forwards, but Rush gives Jackson a lot of flexibility. He can play heavy minutes at the 3 behind (or ahead of) Harrison Barnes, can play some at the 2 behind Klay Thompson and can even sneak minutes as a small-ball 4 as Jackson sometimes did to close games last year.
Rush is now in a waiting game as all but two positions have been filled by GM Bob Myers. Rush received the qualifying offer and should get the $5 million mid-level exception (or a little less for the Dubs to sign a bigger name PF). If Rush signs, expect a lot from him this year.
Even with his large salary, Jefferson can still contribute with his jump shots and his ability to handle the ball. He won’t start, but can fill valuable minutes, giving Harrison Barnes and Brandon Rush a break at the position.
Jefferson’s main contributions are that he has won a lot of games and provides the necessary experience that this young team needs.
Dominic McGuire is already a tough guy who plays the wing position. He is a good defender who uses his frame to make it difficult on offensive players. Since he is so physical, he can play both forward positions and he is the guy they call as their defensive stopper.
McGuire is looking to find a permanent home and will do whatever he needs to do to convince Mark Jackson and Warriors management that he is their guy.
Festus Ezeli has already made a big and quick impact at NBA Summer League practice in Las Vegas. Ezeli is a specimen that likes to play a very physical game. He will be able to refine his game during the Summer League while he gets ready for his first season.
Ezeli looks to become the defensive anchor that Kwame Brown provided for an instant last year before he was shut down for the year. Ezeli will be a lane-clogger, screen-breaker and an overall defensive anchor. He will challenge Tyler and Biedrins for minutes and work on developing a low-post move.
Green is a playmaker who can fill in roles and contribute to the team in the forward spot. Green is a tweener, but he has a body that can rebound the ball. Green has good floor knowledge and the competitive fire that will earn minutes on the floor.
Green comes from Michigan State and was an All-American player because he can pass, score and actually play defense.
GM Bob Myers is searching for the final piece of the 2012-13 puzzle. Carl Landry and now Kenyon Martin have caught Myers' interest, as he and Lacob look for aggressiveness and veteran leadership.
I believe the Dubs will actually sign Martin because it is not as much of a stretch for Martin to accept something in the $2 million salary range. Landry made $9 million last year and that would be difficult to put all of the pieces together for him to sign.
G Charles Jenkins
C Andris Biedrins
C Jeremy Tyler