Golden State Warriors: Mark Jackson Tipping His Hand with Training Camp Lineups
Although he's adamant that the lineup constructions in training camp aren't indicative of what we'll see in the regular season (h/t Matt Steinmetz, CSNBayArea.com), Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is making a few key details about the Dubs' projected lineup pretty clear.
Right off the bat, Jackson drew a few lines in the sand when he split his squad into three five-man units this week.
Some of his decisions weren't surprising—anyone who thought Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee wouldn't be among the starting five probably needs a head exam. But the small forward spot—a position that's been hotly discussed all summer—is providing plenty of fodder for speculative Warrior fans and media.
At least at this point, Brandon Rush appears to have the inside track on the gig. Jackson's decision to let him run with the first unit only made that clearer. Rush, who's been angling to start for a couple of months now, certainly provides the best mixture of experience and potential of the three contenders for the job.
Richard Jefferson is the elder statesman, but he's on the downside of his career. And Harrison Barnes has been wowing his teammates and coaches with his undeniable skill, but rushing him might be dangerous.
Jackson himself has mentioned that even if Barnes is the Warriors' most impressive small forward option in camp, it might not earn him the starting job. The mixture of the players and their chemistry is what Jackson is most concerned about.
It may shake out differently over the remaining weeks of training camp, but right now, Mark Jackson is putting out some obvious signals about who he sees as the Warriors' starting 3.
Small forward, though, isn't the only point of interest in Jackson's early lineup constructions. Festus Ezeli ran with the starting unit this week, as well. Of course, that's not bad news for the projected starter—and resident defensive savior—Andrew Bogut. He's still on a conservative program that forbids engaging in five-on-five or physical contact.
But it is a shot across the bow for Andris Biedrins.
Biedrins, who was the only Warrior not to show up in September to work out with his teammates, is in the doghouse. Jackson won't say that, of course, but he made it pretty clear by allowing the raw and untested Ezeli to work with the starters. Biedrins was relegated to the third unit, along with Charles Jenkins, Jefferson and a pair of training camp invitees who won't make the roster.
At this point, Jackson is sticking to his guns, telling CSN Insider Matt Steinmetz "that's just the way I broke it up from the first day. But there's nothing into it only because you've got to make teams."
Well, if he's just making teams, it's a remarkable coincidence that the three sure-fire starters ended up together with the most likely candidate to start at small forward and the team's best available center.
It's even more incredible, if we believe Jackson's claims, that the second five-man unit featured the team's most obvious second unit: Jarrett Jack, Kent Bazemore, Barnes, Carl Landry and Jeremy Tyler.
Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed, Jeremy Tyler is also apparently ahead of Biedrins on the depth chart. Ouch.
Jackson can say whatever he wants, but he's obviously tipping his hand with these lineups.
Fortunately, they all look pretty sensible. In the best-case scenario, keeping Barnes out of the first five will motivate him to work even harder. That'll be a good thing, because success has come pretty easily for the highly talented Barnes during his basketball career.
Ironically, some humble pie might make him even hungrier.
And as far as Biedrins goes, either Jackson's sending him a message in an effort to motivate him, or he's totally written him off.
Whatever the case, Biedrins hasn't done anything to prove he deserves to move up the depth chart. Until he does, he may as well get comfortable at the end of the bench.
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