For the past 35 years, the Golden State roster and the word ‘deep’ have been polar opposites.
Except for a few years with the Run TMC and “We Believe” squads, the Warriors have had thin benches to back up average-quality starters.
The Warriors went out and had one of their best offseasons in history by cherry-picking veterans and drafting to fill major holes on the roster. As a result, GM Bob Myers and minority owner Jerry West have lined up the Warriors with some very solid talent in the starting five and on the bench.
Veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry join the team, while recently acquired center, Andrew Bogut will finally get a chance to contribute after missing most of last season with a leg injury.
The rookie class joining the Dubs roster includes small forwards Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, center Festus Ezeli and guard Kent Bazemore. Earning a spot on this season’s roster will actually be a difficult task.
Higher expectations await the Dubs this season, and we have seen some progress in their early preseason performances.
Do they get straight A’s so far for their early preseason performance? Let’s take a closer look at the current two-deep depth chart.
Starter: Stephen Curry
Backup: Jarrett Jack
The biggest question going into this season is how will Stephen Curry’s ankle hold up. He received a clean bill of health from his doctors and has played pain free in limited minutes during the preseason.
Curry played his first significant preseason minutes versus Maccabi Haifa when he put up 13 points and added 10 assists. Curry said he felt fine up until the seconnd quarter, but he will build his stamina throughout the preseason.
Curry will become a restricted free agent if he does not sign a new contract by October 31. He will use this year to showcase his talents in order to drive up the contract price for his services. Curry can make plays, pass effectively and he is deadly shooter, especially from behind the arc.
Curry, like Bogut, will be eased into this season by playing fewer minutes early in the season until he gets in a rhythm. This is why the acquisition of Jarrett Jack from New Orleans was so important.
Curry brings a career line of 17.5 points, 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He has shot 47 percent from the field, 44 percent from behind the arc and 90 percent at the charity stripe.
Jack is definitely not a letdown if Curry has to play fewer minutes or even miss a few games. Jack has a career line of 10.8 points, 4.2 assists and 0.8 steals per game. They are not Curry stats, but he gets the job done.
The biggest key for Curry and Jack are to build rapport with the new perimeter of Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes and to find big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee. Once the relationship is developed, the Dubs will become a more well-balanced team.
Starter: Klay Thompson
Backup: Brandon Rush
Klay Thompson gets to start his first full-season as shooting guard since he took over for Monta Ellis, after the trade that sent Ellis to Milwaukee in March. Thompson took full advantage of his opportunity by putting up a line of 18.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game once Ellis was no longer in his way.
Thompson will look to use his 6’7” frame to start attacking the basket instead of settling for the open jumper. During his preseason game against the Lakers, he drove to the hoop three straight times in the first quarter, against the guy who complimented him over the summer, Kobe Bryant.
Thompson will use his catch-and-shoot ability from in front of and behind the arc to help the Dubs score. His ability to drive to the basket will keep defenders from crowding him on the perimeter, which will give him a choice of moves to make.
Thompson’s only pronounced weakness is his defensive ability, which he is working on during the preseason. He doesn’t have enough lateral quickness to handle the more dynamic 2 guards at this stage in his career.
Brandon Rush backs up Thompson as well as the small forward position. Rush is stronger on defense, but like Thompson, he can shoot the three-pointer with similar accuracy.
Rush doesn’t offer much besides his outside shooting as he doesn’t drive to the basket with regularity. He also shot only 32.4 percent from shots between three and nine feet last season.
The biggest key will be for Klay to continue to develop without falling into the “sophomore slump.” He will have to start driving to the basket more often and hone his defensive skills.
Starter: Harrison Barnes
Backup: Richard Jefferson
Harrison Barnes is looking to take the small forward job going into his first preseason camp. He was the seventh overall draft choice in this year’s NBA draft, so he is expected to be in the rotation right away.
According to Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times, Barnes showed off his potential in the Laker game as he finished his shots.
Barnes will have to do his due diligence to understand what each small forward in the league brings to the game, so he is well-equipped to penetrate on offense and hold it down on the defense end. He looks like he is fitting in and adapting to what is expected of him as a rookie.
As for his backup, Richard Jefferson is a seasoned professional that brings the necessary winning and playoff experience to the team. Jefferson should not expect as many minutes as he got with San Antonio, but should receive between 10-15 minutes per game.
Jefferson can hit from behind the arc. He still possesses a solid mid-range jumper and can occasionally drive to the basket. He is also a decent defender, which might earn him a few extra minutes
The major key to the small forward position will be for Barnes to earn the position and have both Jefferson and Brandon Rush lend support when Barnes is on the bench. This is a work in progress, but there is a lot of potential here.
Starter: David Lee
Backup: Carl Landry
The power forward position is arguably the deepest position on the Warriors roster with starter David Lee and backup Carl Landry. Lee has put in the extra time since he had successful surgery in April to repair a torn abdominal muscle.
Lee shouldn’t expect to average the numbers he had last year (20.1 PPG and 9.6 RPG), since he was basically filling in at both the center and power forward position. He will finally have a legitimate center to play with this season in Andrew Bogut.
Bogut will take the defensive pressure off of Lee and let Lee create a lot more on the offensive end. Lee already has a good pick-and-roll setup with guard Steph Curry. He's also comfortable stepping back and hitting jumpers.
The major weakness that Lee will have to focus on this season is improving his defense. Without a decent center by his side, he had to resort to making a lot of fouls, ranking sixth in personal fouls per game last season at a 3.1 clip.
Lee can now get some advice from coach Mark Jackson and feed of the defensive intensity of Bogut. He will have some big challenges going up against division rivals Blake Griffin and Pau Gasol.
As for Carl Landry, he provides instant offense in being a more than a capable backup to Lee. Landry was a former starter for both the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Hornets.
Landry showed his wares in a preseason exhibition game versus Maccabi Haifa, when he put up 24 points and eight rebounds. Landry can contribute in a hurry and should find enough minutes every game to make his presence felt.
The biggest advantage for the power forwards is having a legitimate big man next to them. Lee should progress and show off his strengths, even if his point total decreases from last season.
Starter: Andrew Bogut
Backup: Festus Ezeli
Andrew Bogut was the prize in the blockbuster midseason trade of Monta Ellis. Bogut sat out the rest of the season because of a freak injury to his ankle and is still currently rehabbing. Bogut’s goal is to be ready for the start of the season.
The Warriors probably won’t see the full skill set of Bogut until a month into the season, as he will need time to get acclimated once the injury fully heals. Bogut defines the word intensity when he is on defense, and that is the exact message coach Jackson wants displayed.
Bogut is known for getting dirty and making the necessary plays. He can set a screen, take a charge, fight for a loose ball and make the key block when necessary. He biggest job will be to make the key stop at the end of the game.
Bogut’s goal will be to return to averaging a double-double for the season as well as increasing his scoring. He will be the go to guy down at the post, where he can score or make the key pass to a driving teammate.
I project Festus Ezeli to be the backup to Bogut and outplay center Andris Biedrins. Ezeli is raw, but he has the size and frame to play at this level. He has started each of the preseason games to far and has looked very serviceable for someone who has played the game of basketball for only five years.
Ezeli is known for his shot-blocking and rebounding ability. Throughout his rookie season, he will need to develop a post move and improve his defense. This favorite of Jerry West has room to grow and should get a lot of playing time in the first month as Bogut slowly returns from his injury.
The Warriors finally have the big man they have been looking for since Robert Parish was traded away. Bogut must prove he can fight off the injury bug and show all of the talents he possesses.
If he can instill his defensive philosophy into this team, the Warriors should be playoff bound.
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