Setting the Golden State Warriors' Perfect Playoff Rotation

Andy LiuCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2013

Setting the Golden State Warriors' Perfect Playoff Rotation

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    It isn't every season that the Golden State Warriors are looking ahead towards the playoffs before the regular season even ends. Hell, this might not even be the smartest thing to do, but hypotheticals are almost as fun as the real life scenario that unfolds. 

    The "We Believe" team had to squeeze into the eighth seed before pulling one of the greatest upsets of all time. This season doesn't have the same mojo or "swag", but it certainly is a better-structured team with players complementing each other perfectly. 

    Granted, that team with Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Matt Barnes and even Andris Biedrins were built perfectly to run up and down the court and feed off the crowd, but it was never sustainable. Coach Mark Jackson has done yeoman's work fitting in all the pieces of this team, despite the rash of injuries, to sustain offensive and defensive success. 

    From Stephen Curry's troublesome ankle, Andrew Bogut's in-and-out of the rotation tendencies and Brandon Rush's season-ending ACL tear, his rotation lineups have been nothing short of Coach of the Year-esque. 

    Keep in mind the rotations will shorten in the playoffs as bench players that were getting 5-8 minutes will receive next to nothing. 

    Ranked from importance, we look at what each player brings to the table, how much they should play and what responsibilities they will hold when the crazed playoff atmosphere comes back to Oakland. 

The Bench Bazemores

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    What they bring to the team: 

    A ton of energy and celebrations.

    From the recent phenomenon aptly named Bazemoring to their gritty defense, the bench-warming unit for the Warriors are more well-known than most. 

    If pressed into action, players like Bazemore, Festus Ezeli and even Charles Jenkins have the athleticism and ability to play solid defense. Scoring? Not so much. 

    If the Warriors want to succeed in the playoffs, they won't want to see any meaningful minutes from either Ezeli, Bazemore, Jenkins or Jeremy Tyler. 

Richard Jefferson

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    Ball protection, threes and the occasional reverse slam throw-down that brings down Oracle Arena. 

    At this point in Jefferson's career, he doesn't provide much beyond the occasional three-point threat from the corner. He is part of a "shock troop" bench unit that provides defense, but the lack of offensive threats in the lineup make it a net negative. 

    However, if he can space the floor with his shooting ability and the once-in-a-blue-moon dunks, he can provide a lift in the five to seven minutes he should play per game. 

Draymond Green

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    Defense, defense, interior passing, defense and the miracle of a made jump shot. 

    Quickly becoming the Warriors version of a Raja Bell or a Bruce Bowen, Green is the gritty, do-the-little-things player they have. He has even gotten into jawing matches with LeBron James and is willing to talk a little trash as well

    As for what he can offer on the court, it's the excellent instinctual defense he plays. He makes good rotations and has the ability to guard smaller wings and larger forwards all at once. On offense, he is a massive downgrade from a Harrison Barnes and even a Richard Jefferson

    The shooting touch he had at Michigan State has yet to show up and he doesn't have the ball enough to show off his passing prowess. The high-IQ play is there, but it shouldn't be on the court more than six to eight minutes in a playoff series, if at all. 

Andris Biedrins

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    Rebounds and defensive interior presence. 

    And to make a free throw. Just kidding. 

    At this point in the season and in his career, we know what we will get out of the big Latvian: rebounding in spurts and the ability to block shots, but also the propensity to avoid the ball entirely on offense. 

    However, with Bogut perhaps still less than 100 percent by the beginning of the postseason, Biedrins might need to play bigger minutes than before. The combination of Carl Landry and David Lee will only hold up for so long on the defensive end. Especially with frontcourt mates like Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan and Zach Randolph/Marc Gasol, defense will be key to a series win. 

    With Bogut probably playing no more than 32 minutes per game (his career average), and Carl Landry also taking minutes, look for no more than 10 minutes a game allotted to Biedrins. 

Carl Landry

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    A dominant post-up game, excellent finishing ability near the basket and hopefully enough of a rebounding presence with Bogut out. 

    The best lineup for the Warriors this season has been a combination of Landry/Lee/Curry/Klay Thompson/Jarrett Jack, garnering a cumulative plus-47, according to 82games

    His main responsibility is to be stronger and tougher than any other person on the court, and most of the time that's true. Landry's pump fakes and reverse layup finishes are becoming commonplace, especially with great passers like Lee and Curry around him. 

    When the offense bogs down or the outside shooting goes down, they'll lean on him to post-up and rumble through the lane after dipping his shoulder into the defender and drawing a foul. 

    He's played nearly 25 minutes per game this season, so look for around the same in the playoffs. 

Jarrett Jack

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    As cliche as it sounds, veteran leadership, the facilitator for three-guard lineups and the moxie to close out games with big shots. 

    The team isn't necessarily noticeably better on offense and defense with or without Jack, according to 82games, but it's his ability to keep the team going in its time of need that has Mark Jackson thrusting him into more and more playing time. 

    The ball sometimes stops when it gets to Jack, and this isn't good when he is the point guard with Curry and Thompson on the wings, but his ability to create off the dribble late in the shot clock is second to none on this team. 

    A capable starter on many teams, Jack should see the same amount of minutes he's had all season, about 29 per game. 

    His ability to keep the team grounded, no matter the "statement" wins and disheartening losses, has made this team more resilient than the ones of years past. 

Harrison Barnes

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    Aggressive slashing to the basket and solid one-on-one defense on the opponent's best offensive wing. 

    Jack's playing time is fluid considering Barnes' offensive development. If he chooses to remain aggressive and play the way he has in the past couple weeks, he has the ability to cut into Jack's playing time. 

    Barnes combination of post-up mismatches, shooting, and finishing at the basket is unrivaled on this team. Well, unless Jefferson was about 15 years younger. 

    Barnes is playing a mere 25.5 minutes right now, but if his development persists he'll be nearing 30 a game in the playoffs. His role as the most athletically gifted player on the roster presents an X-factor come playoff time. 

Klay Thompson

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    Lights out three-point shooting and the ability to create off the dribble if Curry is out. Also, he will be pressed into defensive assignments against the other team's best guard, like Barnes. 

    The first half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson is nearly as promising a youngster as Barnes. His quick release coupled with his height make him tough to guard on offense while giving him the potential to develop into a solid defender on the other end. 

    So far this season, he has had to guard players from Chris Paul to Kevin Durant. 

    Defense be damned, it is his shooting off screens and the corner that will play a vital role in the Warriors playoff success. Given that his early season shooting slump is over, he still needs to cut down his turnovers; Thompson is averaging nearly two per game. 

    If his shot selection improves (only 42.1 percent from the field and countless bonehead early jumpers in transition), Thompson's ability to heat up from distance can take over any game, even in the playoffs. 

    He is currently playing 35 minutes per game, easily a career-high, and that number should go up to around 38 in the playoffs with players like Green and Jefferson playing less and less. 

David Lee

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    The engine that keeps the offense flowing, Lee will have to keep the ball moving along the court, hit the elbow jumpers and grab enough rebounds alongside Bogut. 

    Long overrated as a rebounder, Lee has been a bit underrated this season from the aspect of his offensive prowess. His ability to pass, his deadly jump shot and even an effective crossover has been overshadowed by the great three-point shooting this team has. He's been struggling the past couple games, after the All-Star selection, and that has showed with the Warriors. 

    If the Warriors want to win in the playoffs, Lee will have to continue making elbow jumpers at the near-automatic clip he was at the beginning of the season while continuing the excellent post passing he's shown thus far. 

    Lee is playing a career-high 37.5 minutes per game and don't look for that to go down in the playoffs. 

Stephen Curry

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    The best shooter in the league, Curry will have to take the ball to the basket more because of his excellent passing ability inside. 

    A somewhat underrated defender this season, Curry won't be able to keep up with the Tony Parkers or Chris Pauls of the world in the playoffs, but, realistically, who can?

    What he can do is to maintain his historic pace from distance, a torrid 44.9 percent while shooting seven a game. With that being a given, it is his ability to finish near the basket and to penetrate that will prove integral to the team's success. 

    For some reason, Curry has shot poorly from inside the arc, contributing to his lackluster 43.2 percent from the field. It isn't a coincidence that ever since his ankle became troublesome he hasn't been the same finishing at the rim. According to Hoopdata, he is only shooting 37.8 percent from 3-9 feet, whereas he was 47.9 and 45.3 percent in his first two seasons, respectively. 

    He is also attempting only 1.8 shots per game at the rim, contrasted to 2.6 and 2.7 in his rookie and sophomore campaigns. 

    As great a shooter as Curry is, he must drive to the basket to not only score, but to distribute and kick out to shooters. 

    Even with the ankle trouble, Curry is averaging a career-high 37.8 minutes per game. If he can stay relatively healthy the rest of the season, there's no reason why Mark Jackson will play him any less in the playoffs. 

    If anything, we may see Curry touch 40 minutes per game. 

Andrew Bogut

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    What should he bring to the team in the playoffs?

    Precise defensive rotations aside, Bogut must be the orchestrator for a defense that has shown cracks the past month. Perhaps the single most important aspect of the playoffs for the Dubs will be Bogut's impact on the defensive side of the ball. 

    So that's why I haven't mentioned much defense on the part of every other player on the team. Even though the team's defensive efficiency has been strong this season, the smoke-and-mirrors approach was going to run out sooner than later.

    But here comes Bogut to the rescue. 

    With the big Australian in the middle, it's no longer child's play for other big men. In one sequence at the end of the game against the Dallas Mavericks, Bogut showed why the Dubs traded and waited so long for him. 

    He made the perfect rotations off his man to OJ Mayo at the high post, then rotated down just in time to cut off the baseline drive, then rotated again to the other side for a baseline strip-block of Brandan Wright, saving the game for the Warriors. 

    Being able to guard the likes of Gasol and Blake Griffin is a huge boost for a team that has been without an interior presence since Wilt Chamberlain himself. Kidding...sort of. 

    Bogut is currently playing 25 minutes a game while also sitting out back-to-backs, but he appears to be healthy as he is able to cut and jump repeatedly off that ankle. Look for his career average of 32 minutes per game.