The former North Carolina star was supposed to fill in at small forward with point guard Stephen Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson, power forward David Lee and center Andrew Bogut. It was all but decided.
But a surprising player for the Warriors last season, Brandon Rush, appears to be earning high grades in camp so far this season.
Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group noted about Rush on Thursday:
"I’m told he’s looked really good, so far. And not just looked good in the sense that everybody who isn’t out of shape or injured looked good. But apparently, Rush is standing out. I thought Richard Jefferson’s experience might win over coach Mark Jackson. Though Rush as the starter makes a lot of sense, perhaps the most sense. He ran with the first team at training camp on Wednesday, so something is there."
Indeed, there is quite a bit to suggest that Rush will start over Barnes and Jefferson to begin the season. Frankly, I'm not surprised.
The 27-year-old Rush, a first-round pick out of Kansas in 2008, was an impact bench player for Golden State last season.
He registered a respectable player efficiency rating of 15.25. He not only shot 50 percent from the floor and 45 percent from downtown, but he also upped his defensive effort. According to John Hollinger of ESPN, Rush—who played guard and small forward last season—had the second-best block rate among shooting guards in the NBA to go along with the third-lowest foul rate.
I understand the arguments for Barnes and Jefferson—pure potential and experience, respectively. However, Rush is simply a better player than the 32-year-old Jefferson is at this point in his career. Rush also has some experience himself, at least more than Barnes.
It's always better to ease a rookie into the league if you can help it. If Rush continues his strong play in camp and through the preseason, it gives the Warriors some options, like, say, using Barnes as a weapon off the bench.
Warriors fans have a right to want Golden State to force Barnes into the starting lineup, but sometimes pushing a rookie into the NBA has a way of actually stunting his development and confidence.
The Warriors should start Rush and use Barnes off the bench early on this season.