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5 Golden State Warriors Who Must Have a Career Year to Ensure Playoff Berth

James PearsonCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2016

5 Golden State Warriors Who Must Have a Career Year to Ensure Playoff Berth

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    The Golden State Warriors are going to need a team effort to make the NBA playoffs this season.

    With the Western Conference as tough as it is, every member of the Warriors will need to bring it night after night. Also, they are counting on particular players to break out and have the best season of their careers.

    If the Warriors are going to clinch a berth into the NBA playoffs, they will need these five players to step up.

5. Festus Ezeli

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    OK, this one isn't that fair.

    No matter how good or bad he plays, Festus Ezeli is going to have a career year.

    However, the Warriors are counting on big things from him this year.

    With just Andris Biedrins as the only other center behind Andrew Bogut, they will need Ezeli to be the defensive post presence that they have sorely been missing off the bench.

    With Bogut's injury-riddled past, the Warriors may have to rely on Ezeli more than they expected when they drafted him with the 30th overall pick.

    Ezeli was drafted to be a defensive presence, but he has shown flashes of an offensive game this preseason. He averaged 5.9 points a game to go with his 4.9 boards and 1.5 blocks. The best part of his numbers is that he is, surprisingly, shooting 76 percent from the field.

    The Warriors might end up getting more than they expected from him.

    That's good because they are really going to need all they can get from Ezeli.

4. Brandon Rush

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    Brandon Rush had a career year last season.

    This year, the Warriors need even a better year from him.

    The Warriors are counting on Rush to build on his successful season and prove that last season was not just a flash in the pan.

    Coming off the bench, his defense and strong shooting numbers will be vital if the Warriors are to have any success this year.

    Both sides should expect a great year from Rush as he starts a season as a key member in a regular rotation. 

3. Andrew Bogut

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    By saying Andrew Bogut must have a career year, it just means he must match his career year in games played.

    Or at least come close.

    Andrew Bogut is the most important player on this Warriors team. However, he is ranked third on this list because the Warriors don't necessarily need career numbers from him—they just need numbers.

    Unfortunately for him, and Warriors fans, there is still no clear timetable set for his return. The Warriors are counting on Bogut to make them at least an average defensive team this year. Without him, they are in serious trouble.

    The Warriors will be dangerous if Bogut can come back at full strength.

    As long as he is making an impact on the floor defensively, with or without the career stats, the Warriors can live with that.

2. Klay Thompson

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    Klay Thompson will surely improve on last year's numbers.

    Simply by seeing more minutes on the floor, he is going to post career highs.

    The Warriors are counting on it, as Thompson will be a focal point of the Warriors' offense.

    What the Warriors really need out of him is strong percentages. With all the talent the Warriors now have, shots are not going to be easy to come by. Having Thompson make the most of every opportunity he gets is something the Warriors are counting on.

    Expect him to deliver.

1. Stephen Curry

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    He gave a nice little scare in the preseason, didn't he?

    Better safe than sorry, as he sat out the remainder of the preseason for precautionary reasons to be ready for when the games actually matter.

    The Warriors are banking on Stephen Curry to finally break out this season and put his name amongst the likes of Rondo, Westbrook, Williams and Rose.

    He has the talent to do that. He just needs to be on the floor to make it happen.

    The trading of Monta Ellis didn't just free up time for Klay Thompson, it sent a message that the Warriors are comfortable making Curry the No. 1 offensive option on a team that is hoping to reach the playoffs.

    Andrew Bogut is certainly the Warriors' most important player, but from a statistical standpoint, the Warriors need the most production out of Curry.

    Curry has the talent to be an All-Star, but he can't do it on one ankle. The Warriors need not only a healthy season from Curry, but a career-best one.

    Seems like those two things are one and the same.

How the Rest of the Team Fits into This Equation

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    Harrison Barnes - The Warriors expect Barnes to contend for the Rookie of the Year award. If he doesn't, they still have Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson to help out.

    Kent Bazemore - Anything they get from the undrafted rookie will be gravy.

    Andris Biedrins - If any GM was banking on a career year from this guy to make the playoffs, then he should spend the rest of the year scouting lottery talent. That, or be looking for a new job.

    David Lee - The Warriors know exactly what they will be getting from Lee. He is as consistent as they come. With a healthy Andrew Bogut by his side, Lee could end up having a career year. Although, the Warriors will be just fine if he posts his career averages.

    Draymond Green - The Warriors expect Green to be a glue guy off the bench. Anything the Warriors need from him, Green will be able to provide.

    Jarrett Jack - The Warriors are hoping they don't get a career year out of Jack. It will mean that Stephen Curry is in a suit for most of the season. Jack does provide an excellent insurance plan if Curry does miss time.

    Richard Jefferson - The Warriors are counting on his leadership and three-pointers every now and then, not much else.

    Charles Jenkins - Even after a promising final month to end last season, the Warriors aren't likely to expect much from him. Not with Jack now on the team. Jenkins is a fantastic backup point guard to have at the end of the bench.

    Carl Landry - A terrific addition by the Warriors who will provide them with a scoring punch off the bench.

    Jeremy Tyler - All the Warriors expect from Tyler is that he continues to improve.

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