Who's the Best Fit to Start at SF for Golden State Warriors?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterAugust 29, 2012

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors poses for a portrait during the 2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at the MSG Training Center on August 21, 2012 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

For once, the Golden State Warriors have a roster that makes sense. It's been years of Nellie gimmicks, of shooting guards at power forward, of point guards at off-guard. Finally, the Dubs have an adequately-sized collection of skilled players. Brittle though the roster is, at least it's logical. 

The only position of dispute is small forward. Andrew Bogut is locked in at center—no, there will not be any competition from Andris Biedrins. Stephen Curry finally has full point guard reins now that Monta Ellis is gone. Provided Steph's ankle holds, so too does that position. At shooting guard, Klay Thompson acquitted himself nicely last season. It's the off-screen shooter's position to lose. It's even possible that he'll actually dunk next year, given his off-court project. 

At power forward, David Lee isn't going anywhere. The Warriors are paying him over $15 million in 2015-2016, so they're quite invested in making this work. Also, Lee gets along splendidly with Warriors owner Joe Lacob. I would be shocked to see Lee benched, or even traded for that matter. 

This leaves the aforementioned small forward slot, a position no longer filled by the recently traded Dorell Wright. GSW drafted Harrison Barnes at pick No. 7, and he could have gone as high as No. 2 had he entered the 2011 draft. 

Going forward, the Warriors would love to be in a position to start Harrison Barnes. It's just a matter of when and whether he's actually good enough. Despite the draft pedigree, the latter concern is real. ESPN stat guru Bryan Doolittle described the rookie thus:

"Harrison Barnes projects to be one of the worst players in the league. Indeed, his ability to outperform that forecast is the key to Golden State taking that longed-for step toward the postseason."

Brandon Rush secretly had a breakout year for Golden State. It was something of a "secret" because few care when role players exceed expectations. A leap from stardom to superstardom is an ongoing national story. A leap from "bench player" to "average starter" is not so covered.

Rush doesn't have the best handle on the court, but he rarely dribbles. He's not an especially adept passer, but he doesn't involve himself. 

So Brandon Rush is not incredibly offensively involved, but he hits threes when called on. Last season, he was a scalding 45 percent from deep, which accounted for a lot of his fantastic 62.8 true shooting percentage

He also happens to be a dogged, athletic defender in the Aaron Afflalo mold. And when given some space, he delivers screamingly nasty dunks: 

For now, Brandon Rush is the right Warriors choice. But if all goes according to plan, it's Harrison Barnes at the small forward spot, far, far into the future.