Meet the Golden State Warriors' Most Underutilized Player

James PearsonCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2013

December 18, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors power forward Carl Landry (7) dunks the ball against the New Orleans Hornets during the fourth quarter at ORACLE Arena. The Warriors defeated the Hornets 103-96. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors have been wildly underutilizing Carl Landry.

In the month of March, Landry has been averaging just 16.8 minutes per game, netting just 7.1 points a night. So unless it’s a ploy to minimize his impact so he won’t opt out of his player option for next season, the Dubs are making a mistake.

Yes, getting Andrew Bogut back into the lineup is key, but it shouldn’t come at that extreme expense. 

Landry started out on fire. In his first full month with the Warriors, he averaged 14.0 points and 7.1 rebounds with over five free-throw attempts in 27 minutes per game.

He became the perfect complement to David Lee. Being able to distract the defense in the post and off Lee was a big reason why David can now call himself an All-Star. On such plays, when Lee got the ball in the high post, there was now actually someone he could feed down low to show off his elite passing skills.

The way Landry frequented the free-throw line, not only was he knocking them down, he was getting opposing big men in foul trouble. He took advantage of playing high minutes due to Bogut being on the bench. With his strong play he made himself a significant part of the rotation in the Warriors' first 15 games, nine of which were wins.

In their 16 games in December, Landry had only two games in which he played less than 20 minutes. The Warriors went 12-4 in that span. That happened even though December was the only month this season in which Landry has failed to shoot over 50 percent from the field. He was on the court and they were winning. 

January was more of the same for Landry.

While the Warriors just won one more game than they lost that month, Landry averaged 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game. Looking back, that was an impressive month from the Warriors.

While they did lose seven games, all of their defeats were against teams that will be in the postseason. One of those games was against the Miami Heat, which was a revenge game for them on top of being the most dominant team in the NBA.

Things were good for Landry and the Warriors.

Then Bogut returned.

A good thing if the Warriors were serious about making any serious playoff noise. A bad thing if you’re Landry. He immediately saw his minutes and impact decrease upon Bogut's return.

As Golden State worked Bogut into the lineup, the losses and Landry’s shot attempts became a casualty. During the month of February, Landry averaged just 6.4 attempts per game while posting under 10 points a game, a total he hadn’t scored less than in any non-injury, non-trade month of NBA action since December 2008. 

And…the Warriors went 4-8 that month.

Then the calendar flipped to March, which has arguably been Landry’s worst as pro. In that timeframe he has averaged 16.7 minutes per game, a full 10 minutes less per game than his first month as a Warrior. In March, Landry has averaged 7.1 points, 4.2 rebounds per game. Plus, he has gone to the free-throw line just 1.7 times per game.

He has virtually disappeared.

Getting Bogut in the rotation is important, but in doing so the Warriors are just 8-7 in the month of March. No thanks in part to Landry, through no fault of his own.

Why have we seen such a decrease in minutes?

The Warriors were at their best when Landry was at his. It would behoove them to get him as many minutes as possible while Bogut gets acclimated into the rotation. 

Bogut looks like he may regain his form. He is playing like he might enable the Warriors to pull off a first-round upset. Having Landry make the impact that he was making in the beginning of the season on top of a healthy Bogut? That just might make the difference between making the playoffs and winning a series.