Golden State Warriors: Golden Opportunity Wasted by Rookie Trio

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 19, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 25:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels sits dejected in the locker room after they lost 80-67 against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Final at Edward Jones Dome on March 25, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

When Golden State Warriors management decided to send summer league star Klay Thompson home, it gave the Warriors' talented rookie trio a golden opportunity. Without Thompson as the team's prime scoring option and steadying force, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green got a chance to show they belonged.

Against the Miami Heat summer league squad on July 18, the aforementioned trio flat-out blew it. Let's break it down.


Harrison Barnes

Playing without the safety net of Thompson's offensive dominance, Harrison Barnes suffered through another rough shooting night. In what's become a disturbing trend, Barnes took a number of contested jumpers, resulting in a 5-for-17 performance. Without Thompson spacing the floor, Barnes had even less room to maneuver. His pet move so far—a one- or two-dribble penetration into the midrange area, followed by a pull-up jumper or a spin move—was closed off.

Despite the lack of room to operate, Barnes stubbornly took the ball into the teeth of the collapsed Miami defense and predictably got into trouble. He turned the ball over twice and got few good looks at the rim. He also made only one of his four three-point attempts.

Barnes does get a little extra credit on an otherwise poor performance because he took (and made) the game's biggest shot—a long two-pointer on the right baseline that put the Warriors ahead for good with less than a minute left.

Overall, though, Barnes failed to make the most of his chance to be the team's primary scorer. Unless he starts to curb his penchant for contested jumpers, he's going to continue to struggle to shoot a respectable percentage.

The other Warrior draft picks, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, weren't any better.


Festus Ezeli

Ezeli started at center and played 25 minutes. In that span he went 0-for-5 from the field and secured just four rebounds. Of course, Ezeli isn't expected to score, but if he's playing significant minutes, he's got to control the glass more effectively than he did against Miami.

To his credit, Ezeli blocked three shots and did not turn the ball over. Of the three rookies, Ezeli performed closest to expectations.


Draymond Green

Green's had two rough games in a row now...literally. After committing seven(!) personal fouls against Denver in his last appearance, Green racked up six more against Miami. On the bright side, I guess that proves he's active.

Of course, for a player the Warriors hope to insert into the actual rotation this season, Green's foul-filled defense might keep him off the floor altogether. That's not a good sign.

Green may actually have suffered the most from the absence of Thompson against the Heat. He was miscast as a perimeter shooter to fill the void left by Thompson. The results were ugly: Green missed all nine of his field-goal attempts, including four three-pointers. And unlike Barnes, Green's shots were largely uncontested.

Billed as a heady player who could do a little bit of everything, Green hasn't yet done much of anything. He does appear to be as intelligent and gritty as advertised, but so far that hasn't translated into very many pretty box scores.

Obviously, there's still plenty of hope for all three Warrior rookies, but their combined 5-for-31 performance against Miami has raised some real questions. They'll get another shot to prove they can handle the spotlight against the Chicago Bulls on July 20. 

And Klay Thompson won't be there then, either. So opportunity will actually knock twice for the rookie trio. Let's hope they answer this time.