Ranking Golden State Warriors' 5 Key Starting Lineups Used This Season
The Golden State Warriors have not strayed too far from their normal starting lineup this season. The biggest hole to fill has been the center position, where the extended absence of Andrew Bogut has given more time to rookie Festus Ezeli and backup center Andris Biedrins.
Stephen Curry has avoided the injury bug for most of the season and has started all but four games. Shooting guard Klay Thompson has been locked in for every game, and small forward Harrison Barnes has only missed one.
All-Star David Lee has held his own at the power forward spot and provided the offensive firepower down low to complement Curry and Thompson.
But which of the five key starting lineups has provided the most production? There is a good chance that Curry, Thompson and Barnes will be part of those units.
5. Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Lee, Biedrins
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry factor into most of the backcourt production.
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This Golden State Warriors lineup has all of the key ingredients except for the difference maker that they traded for last season. In Andrew Bogut's place is the once-formidable Andris Biedrins, who has shown a lot more effort this season.
The core four (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee) have played together for most of the minutes this season and have been a very productive unit. Curry leads the way and can kick the ball out to Thompson, run a pick-and-roll with Lee or pass to a driving Barnes.
Biedrins primarily stays back on the defensive end to contribute with blocks or key rebounds. His 0.5 PPG average shows that he is a shell of the offensive force that he was back in the 2008-09 season when he averaged 11.9 PPG.
This lineup has a 3-4 record when these five players start together.
4. Jack, Thompson, Jefferson, Lee, Biedrins
Sixth man Jarrett Jack has been clutch all year long.
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This lineup was rolled out when Stephen Curry sat the first of back-to-back games against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 29. Curry was gone because of ankle problems, but the lineup was also missing Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and super-sub Carl Landry.
These five players dug in and outplayed a young Cavaliers team on the road. Klay Thompson had the hot hand by scoring a career-high 32 points, and David Lee finished two assists shy of a triple-double.
Yes, this unit is limited without Curry and even Bogut, but it put in the necessary effort to win. When Curry sat out two more games earlier in January, the Warriors lost both of those contests without this starting lineup in place.
3. Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Landry, Ezeli
Carl Landry is the go-to guy when David Lee can't start.
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The David Lee-less lineup comes in as the third-best starting group. This was used when Lee sat out against the New Orleans Hornets after rolling his ankle the night before against the San Antonio Spurs on January 18.
The Warriors used the dominant rebounding effort from Carl Landry in the place of Lee and had the support of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and former Hornet Jarrett Jack to earn the road victory. Landry matched his 11 boards with 11 points on the night.
Lee is a crucial offensive cog in the Warriors lineup, but the added depth that Landry brings to the table really does not compromise the team in Lee’s absence. Two other variations of the Lee-less lineup have been put out there, and both times the Warriors came back empty-handed.
2. Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Lee, Ezeli
Festus Ezeli has grown a lot this season with the absence of Andrew Bogut.
This Andrew Bogut-less lineup has been featured most of the year and has been very successful. The Warriors have a 22-14 record when these five players start and had one of their best-ever East Coast road trips, going 6-1 with a last-second win over the NBA champion Miami Heat.
This lineup coexists well because of the big body of Festus Ezeli. He has not developed an offensive game yet during his rookie year, but he is a force in the paint. He averages about one block and 3.9 rebounds per game in his limited minutes.
His 6’11” size and big-bodied frame are difference makers in the paint, and his presence leads to a lot more passes back to the perimeter players. When the Warriors are playing sound perimeter defense, they hold opponents to a lesser shooting percentage.
Ezeli can finish around the rim and gives the Warriors the necessary presence when Andrew Bogut can’t play. The additional minutes he receives starting for Bogut only make his learning curve that much shorter.
1. Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Lee, Bogut
The potential is there with a healthy Andrew Bogut.
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This is the ideal starting lineup for the Warriors, and it was the one that was used to start the season on Halloween night in a win against the Phoenix Suns. This lineup will also be the first call come playoff time if nobody gets injured.
The Warriors have not progressed as much as they would have liked with these five on the floor because Andrew Bogut's long absence and the delay of him regaining his playing strength.
As the team enters crunch time to earn the heralded and long-awaited playoff spot, Bogut will really have to prove his worth. He has long been recognized for being a defensive specialist, but his offense has not progressed to the point where it needs to be.
Coach Mark Jackson will have to monitor his progress and get him involved so that he can show off his skills and validate the reason they traded for him. Bogut played a season-high 32 minutes versus the Detroit Pistons on March 13 and put up seven points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals and three blocks.
The potential of Lee and Bogut as frontcourt players who can pass and move will only help the Dubs in the playoffs. The run-and-gun style usually fades into a half-court game once the playoffs begin.
If all goes well, this will be the lineup that can take the Warriors to the second round of the playoffs and further solidify the franchise’s future.