If healthy, the Golden State Warriors were going to make the NBA Playoffs.
Well, that lasted all of one game.
With Brandon Rush now out for the season with a torn ACL, you can’t help but wonder who’s going to be next, how an injury to each starter will affect the team and how many games the Warriors can survive if any starter goes down.
Without Rush there to back him up, Klay Thompson should log even more minutes than expected. That is, assuming Blake Griffin didn’t smash his face completely in.
Thompson is expected to be fine after missing the final minutes of the win over the Los Angeles Clippers after Griffin landed on top of him. Hopefully he won’t miss any time, but don’t be surprised if he is wearing one of those sleek plastic masks.
His shot isn’t falling at the level that we would expect so far, but it’s only been three games, and the Warriors are 2-1. What’s there to complain about? A good sign is that Thompson is getting five three-point shot attempts per game. With his stroke, the shots will eventually fall.
Without Rush, Thompson's back got a little heavier at shooting guard.
And if his nose is okay, he should be around for all 82 games with numbers similar to what he produced in the final months of last season. If he does miss any time, the Warriors can get by with a backcourt combination of Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack.
Harrison Barnes has a much bigger role now with Rush out. And he should deliver. Everything we have seen from him so far shows that he is ready to be a contributor on a playoff team. After the road win against the Clippers sans Andrew Bogut, the Warriors should expect to be playoff contenders.
The only positive coming out of the Rush injury is that the Warriors had placed Barnes as the starter from opening day.
The trust that they showed in Barnes early, rather than thrusting him into the starting lineup to replace Rush, will go a long way for his confidence. Barring any unfortunate incidents, the rookie should be starting all 82 games at small forward for the Dubs.
If Barnes misses any time, the Warriors can use a combination of Draymond Green and Richard Jefferson.
Andrew Bogut has looked good, but how many times a game does he fall down to the floor? You can almost hear the collective gasp from Warriors fans every time he tumbles to the ground.
It’s no mystery why Bogut's had so many flukey injuries.
Playing on a surgically repaired ankle, Bogut is not going to play in back-to-back games to start the season. His minutes will also be heavily monitored as he gets himself into playing shape. Fortunately, the Warriors have Festus Ezeli, allowing Bogut to come along slowly.
The sooner that the Warriors can let Bogut loose, the better. If Bogut can play around 65 games, the Warriors should be happy, especially after how good they looked without him in a road victory against the Clippers.
The Warriors now know that they can win tough games without forcing him to do too much, too soon.
Thanks in large part to Ezeli. It’s only been three games, but he looks like he has been in the NBA for years.
In a center-starved NBA, how did he fall to the 30th pick?
Speaking of good backups, would you even notice if David Lee got hurt and Carl Landry was the starter? Landry has looked tremendous. Still, Lee is very important to the success of the Warriors this season.
Lee will get it going. Remember, he has never played with a legitimate center before. Even one that is as talented as Ezeli. It will take some time to adjust, but Lee will be back to posting borderline All-Star type numbers.
The best part about Lee is that he always shows up to play. As long as he stays away from Wilson Chandler's teeth, the Warriors can expect Lee to be on the floor for 75-plus games this season. However, the Warriors would adjust easily if Lee missed multiple games with Landry right behind him.
Every starter is important on this Warriors team, but (so far) none seem as crucial as Stephen Curry. The Warriors can't expect to go very far if he misses significant time.
Even with his clunker in the first game where the Warriors were able to win despite him, Curry has been the most important player for the Warriors.
He single-handedly kept them in the game against the Memphis Grizzlies, and in trying to close out the Clippers, he possessed the ball in the waning minutes to seal the deal.
That's the way it should be.
Curry's injury past is troublesome. The Warriors can't rely on him being there for 82 games. It's just not going to happen.
Luckily, Jarrett Jack is around to soften the blow if and when Curry does miss time. The Warriors can survive if Curry plays 65 games this season with the strength of their bench. If Curry misses much more time than that, the Warriors will be hoping for another bottom-seven finish.
The Warriors are no different from any other team in the NBA. They need their starters healthy to make a push for the playoffs. They caught a bad break losing Rush for the rest of the season, but they can survive it.
As long as the starters don't lose many games due to injury, they have enough talent to secure a spot in the NBA Playoffs.