Final Preseason Grades for Every Golden State Warrior
With the 2012-13 preseason slate in the rear view, it's time to take stock of each Golden State Warrior by doling out report cards to the 15 players who made it through the team's final cuts.
When we handed out progress reports after the Las Vegas Summer League, more than half the team avoided evaluation. So for the Warriors' veterans and established young players—none of whom participated in Vegas—this'll be the first time we've had any sort of sample on which to judge them.
Of course, the usual caveats apply: The preseason isn't nearly as meaningful as the regular season, and the rotations coach Mark Jackson employed aren't necessarily the ones we'll see when the games actually matter.
But the Warriors did make a concerted effort to win as many preseason games as possible, a mindset that carried over from an undefeated performance in Vegas last July. With a purported culture change taking place and a desire to shake off the franchise's losing ways, the Dubs scrapped their way to a preseason record of 6-2.
The starters played more than usual, so while the preseason still isn't as telling as the one that starts on Halloween, this Warriors' exhibition schedule should provide a better basis on which to grade the Dubs than any in recent years.
Let's check out which Warriors earned high marks and which ones will be a little bummed to take their report cards home to Mom.
Harrison Barnes was decidedly impressive during the preseason. He showed he had NBA three-point range, going 12-of-25 from beyond the arc, and the ability to finish at the rim.
Ironically, the one thing he didn't show—his collegiate penchant for low-percentage long two-pointers—was also a positive.
Barnes even surprised us with a nasty mid-post game that allowed him to use his size and show off his athleticism. Though he primarily featured this heretofore hidden weapon in his arsenal against the Utah Jazz, the Warriors would be wise to dump the ball into Barnes more often.
Specifics aside, Barnes played well enough during the preseason to steal the starting small forward job from Brandon Rush. For that alone, Barnes earns high marks.
Final Grade: A-
Kent Bazemore made the Warriors' final 15-man roster by a hair, surviving final cuts on October 24. But he definitely didn't wow anybody during the preseason, as he logged just five minutes per game over the Warriors' eight contests.
Still, as the last man on the roster, Bazemore should be glad he's gone from being an undrafted free agent to a member of an NBA team, a truly rare feat.
After playing well enough to make the team in Vegas, Bazemore's contributions in practice have apparently been good enough to offset his general nonappearance during the preseason.
There are basically no expectations for Bazemore at all this year, so it's hard to fault him for doing virtually nothing in the preseason. One interesting development to note, though, is that Mark Jackson had Bazemore play a few minutes at point guard in the Warriors' final game against the Phoenix Suns.
Bazemore played with the ball in his hands a lot in college, so he might develop the ability to pair his rangy defense with some decent ball-handling in the future. For now, he could be headed to the D-League.
Final Grade: C-
OK, let's recap Andris Biedrins' preseason. Ready?
First, he ditched his teammates for voluntary workouts in September. He was the only Warrior who wasn't in Oakland for over a month.
Then, when he arrived to training camp, he promptly lost his spot on the depth chart to rookie Festus Ezeli. He also subsequently fell behind second-year man Jeremy Tyler, who will almost certainly spend time in the D-League this year.
And finally, Biedrins missed all five of the Dubs' eight preseason games with one of his patented phantom groin injuries.
His tan looked great, though.
At this point, Biedrins can't do anything right. There's nothing to see here; let's move on.
Final Grade: F-
Andrew Bogut's preseason progress has been slow—painfully slow. Fortunately, though, the Warriors' cornerstone hasn't experienced any setbacks in his recovery from the left ankle surgery he underwent in January.
Bogut didn't play in any preseason games, but he has been doing full-contact one-on-one drills for a few weeks. He met with his surgeon on October 20 and was essentially told to play whenever he felt ready. That's not the most encouraging update, but at least he wasn't told not to play or to slow down his rehab.
There's an outside chance Bogut will be ready to play in the season opener, but without having seen him in the preseason, it's hard to know how much he'll be able to offer the Warriors once he hits the floor.
Final Grade: Incomplete
Hey, have you heard? Stephen Curry rolled his ankle again.
While Curry's latest tweak isn't thought to be serious, let's be realistic: It's serious.
With Curry, there's no such thing as a minor ankle injury. The fact that he sprained it again, however flukey or insignificant it might seem, is still the worst thing that could have possibly happened during the preseason.
The Warriors have to decide whether they'll extend Curry a contract offer before the season starts. If they don't, he'll hit restricted free agency after the year's over. In some ways, Curry's latest injury might allow the Warriors to shoot him a low-ball offer. But in another sense, the injury might be more evidence that they shouldn't make him an offer at all.
Curry is supposed to be ready to go on opening night, and he was very good when he was on the floor for the Dubs during the preseason, but it's starting to feel like he's never going to be able to stay healthy.
Final Grade: D
Festus Ezeli started the preseason looking like a revelation and tailed off a bit afterwards. He still landed firmly in "pleasant surprise" territory, though.
Ezeli put up averages of six points and five rebounds during eight preseason games, all of which he started. Beyond the stats, though, Ezeli looked ready to play in the NBA.
He's got plenty of size and is probably the Warriors' most physically powerful player. Plus, he showed he wasn't afraid to protect the rim with a few hard fouls.
There's no question he's committed on defense and knows how to block a shot. If Ezeli continues to show adequate hands on offense and can improve his defensive rebounding, he'll be in the NBA for a long time.
As it is, he's shown the Warriors that there won't be a need to rush Andrew Bogut in his recovery. Ezeli can hold down the fort in the short-term.
Final Grade: B
The Warriors' second-round pick missed the first four preseason games with a cranky knee, so when he finally got onto the court, he wasn't fit enough to play big minutes.
The few minutes Green did play, though, were solid. In what's become a tired refrain, Green just knows how to play basketball. He clearly lacks a position, but he does all of the little things that winning teams covet.
He'll take a charge, rotate correctly on defense, make the right pass and rebound well for his size. Plus, he hustles as much as any player on the roster.
However, Green has yet to prove he'll be able to shoot at the NBA level, as he made just 31 percent of his field-goal tries.
Overall, Green solidified his place as a fan favorite and looks to be a valuable "glue guy" heading into the season. Anything more than that will be gravy.
Final Grade: C+
First, the bad news: Jarrett Jack is not a good three-point shooter. Aside from one outlying season in his NBA career, he's never shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc. His 3-for-15 performance on threes during the preseason shouldn't have been a surprise.
Other than that shortcoming, though, Jack played very well during the preseason.
He displayed an array of tricky floaters in the lane and showed great strength and balance in attacking the basket. As a mid-range shooter, Jack was pretty darn good too.
It'll be a bad sign if Jack starts many games this season in relief of Stephen Curry, but at least the Warriors know the point guard position will be in capable hands if that has to happen. In Jack, the Dubs clearly have one of the NBA's best backup guards and a solid veteran leader.
Final Grade: B+
Let's see, what's the nicest way to describe Richard Jefferson's preseason?
He went 4-for-10 from three-point range. That's, good, right?
Really, though, Richard Jefferson is Done. With a capital "D."
It was sad to watch Jefferson, who's clearly lost a step (or three), during the preseason. He couldn't beat his man off the dribble, never made any mid-range shots and even missed 10 of his 17 free-throw attempts. That's a 41 percent clip for anyone counting.
There's no question Jefferson is a good veteran presence, but he simply can't get it done on the floor anymore. With the emergence of Barnes, there is virtually no scenario in which Jefferson should play this year.
He just doesn't have anything left to offer.
Final Grade: D-
Jenkins didn't play much during the preseason, and it's still not clear if he's really a point guard, but he did put together a pretty sweet little highlight reel in the Warriors' final game against Phoenix on October 23. Skip to the 6:30 mark in the video above to check out a nice assist and a wicked crossover.
Overall, Jenkins projects to be the Warriors' third point guard, which is about where he belongs right now.
He's got a reputation as a hard worker and he already has a deadly mid-range jumper, so he's still a useful player with good growth prospects.
Nonetheless, Jenkins still struggles against full-court pressure and hasn't yet figured out the nuances of effective pick-and-roll operation. Both of those weaknesses were still evident during the preseason.
Final Grade: C
Carl Landry looked like an absolute bargain during the preseason. For just $4 million per year, the Warriors have a post-up scorer who absolutely demands double-team attention from the defense. When left alone, Landry consistently put his man in a blender, either scoring at the rim or drawing a foul.
Landry's 56 percent field-goal rate and team-leading 34 free-throw attempts are a testament to just how nasty he is on offense. In short, he's been better than advertised.
Of course, there are two ends to most basketball courts, and Landry really only plays on one of them. Especially when paired with David Lee in a small-ball lineup, Landry's deficiencies on D and on the boards were evident.
If he's teamed up with either Ezeli or Bogut, Landry's weaknesses are less of a problem. But as it is, playing Landry without a defensive presence alongside him is not a viable option.
On the whole, Landry was immensely impressive, though. His ability to create easy, efficient scoring opportunities was second-to-none during the preseason.
Final Grade: A-
David Lee continued to be David Lee during the Dubs' preseason contests, which is to say he put up consistent offensive numbers, shot the ball efficiently and didn't play any defense.
Lee played the most minutes of any NBA player during the preseason, so it was no surprise that his average of 17.3 points per game was second-best in the league as well.
Scoring has never been Lee's problem, though.
Consistently used as a center when starter Festus Ezeli hit the bench, Lee was predictably overmatched on the boards and on defense. And as we mentioned earlier, Carl Landry wasn't much help to him in those areas.
At this point, the Warriors know exactly what they're getting from Lee. The real question will be how much Ezeli—and to a much greater extent—Bogut can make up for Lee's ongoing deficiencies.
Final Grade: B
Somehow, despite apparently losing his grip on the starting small forward job, Brandon Rush played really well during the preseason.
In addition to shooting 48 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from long distance, Rush earned major points for how professionally he handled Mark Jackson's decision to start Barnes ahead of him.
Rush will be a huge part of the Warriors' rotation this year whether or not he ever starts a game. His rangy wing defense and consistent outside shooting are just too valuable to keep him on the bench for long.
If nothing else, Rush proved that last season wasn't a fluke. He did exactly what was asked of him during the preseason and will continue to provide excellent per-minute production during the regular season.
Final Grade: B+
For Klay Thompson, the hits just keep on coming.
After wowing the Dream Team in workouts as a member of the USA Select Team, Thompson blew the doors off of the Las Vegas Summer League (despite playing just two games).
Now, after hitting a ridiculous 48.8 percent of his threes during the preseason, there's no telling what he'll do once the regular season tips off.
For starters, Thompson seems like a safe bet to threaten the 20-points-per-game barrier and will definitely continue to shoot the lights out from everywhere in the gym.
But the Warriors' second-year starter isn't just a gunner anymore, according to Mark Jackson, who lauded Thompson's perimeter defense. In addition to that, Thompson proved he could orchestrate a fast break or two as a decent ball handler during the Dubs' preseason games.
Since the end of last year, everything Klay Thompson has done has been worthy of high marks.
Final Grade: A
Are there grades for traveling a lot? If there were, Jeremy Tyler would have earned higher scores for his preseason performance.
Though he wasn't called for every walking violation he committed (which would have been on virtually every play), Tyler's penchant for steps was just one of the many perplexing aspects of his performance.
It just doesn't seem like the guy understands how to play basketball.
Tyler was consistently lost on defense whenever he was on the floor, which wasn't often—he averaged just 10.3 minutes per contest. And he just never put himself in good positions on offense, either.
To his credit, Tyler made more than half of his 23 field-goal attempts and also shot 77 percent from the line, but as a total NBA-ready package, he's just not there yet.
Obviously, Tyler is still very young, but the fact that he seems not to have improved at all is a source of mild concern. He'll probably tear up the D-League again this year, though.
So, there's that.
Final Grade: D+