Struggling Young Players Golden State Warriors Can Sign on the Cheap
Ideally, the Golden State Warriors will enter the 2012-13 season with a roster identical to the one they had in 2011-12.
Other than Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, every key Warriors player from this season is under contract for next season. Brandon Rush will be returning from a torn ACL, and having Landry and Jack both back would make Golden State an incredibly dangerous and deep team.
However, there is no guarantee that the Warriors will retain both of their veteran free agents. If Landry opts out of his $4 million player option for next season, the Warriors will have to try to retain both him and Jack at discount prices.
Even if the Warriors can sign Landry cheap and offer Jack the mid-level exception, there's a chance Jack leaves in order to have a starting job elsewhere.
In either case, the Warriors will need to fill an empty roster spot.
Here's a look at three players that—for various reasons—will come cheaper than Jack and Landry, but may be able to thrive in Golden State's system.
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During his first four seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, Augustin showed flashes of becoming the smart, talented floor general that he appeared to be at the University of Texas. He never fully grew into a starting role, however, and the Bobcats decided to let him go due to the presence of Kemba Walker.
Augustin signed with the Indiana Pacers, where he struggled to fit in due to Indiana's slow-tempo, post-heavy offense.
In Golden State, Augustin could finally fit in.
His greatest skills are his pick-and-roll game and his outside shooting. Golden State doesn't have all that much athleticism nor does it have a true low-post scorer, so the Warriors run a ton of pick-and-rolls to free up their ball-handlers and big men alike.
Augustin is also a low-turnover guy, averaging 2.2 turnovers and 5.8 assists per 36 minutes over his career. By comparison, Jarrett Jack has averaged 2.5 turnovers and 5.6 assists per 36 minutes.
Jack would still be the ideal backup PG for Golden State, but if he leaves, Augustin could replace him. With Mark Jackson at the helm and an offense that suits him, he could potentially enjoy a breakout season.
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Three year into his NBA career, Wesley Johnson is a bust. There's no getting around it.
The Minnesota TImberwolves' No. 1 draft pick (No. 4 overall) in 2010 didn't impress during his first two seasons, and he was dumped on the Phoenix Suns (traded would be too kind a word considering the return).
He showed some signs of improvement with Phoenix, but he still struggled to shoot the ball consistently, use his athleticism to his advantage or make a significant impact elsewhere.
So why in the world would the Warriors want him?
First off, Golden State cannot be sure that Brandon Rush will return healthy and be the same player he was before his injury. Adding an insurance policy on the wing would be smart.
Johnson has the skills necessary to fit perfectly into Golden State's system. He's a full-sized shooting guard at 6'7", and has shown flashes of brilliance as a defender. He also has the athleticism to fuel the second unit in transition and become a dangerous cutter.
Johnson possesses a high basketball IQ, and with the right coaching and mentoring, he could figure out how to put his skills to use.
Considering that Golden State could easily sign him for less than $3 million a season, he'd be a great low-risk signing.
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Six years and five teams into his NBA career, Josh McRoberts is one of the most frustrating players in the league.
His game has "dynamite NBA role player" written all over it. He's got plus-power forward size (6'10". 240 lbs), with the athleticism of a smaller man. He's got great energy, shot-blocking instincts, passing skills and strength under the basket.
However, McRoberts is maddeningly inconsistent.
The biggest reason for this is that he doesn't play to his strengths. He tries to dominate the game whenever he's in, much like he did in college. Unfortunately, the NBA is not the ACC, and the former Duke star cannot make an impact as a go-to scorer, mid-range shooter or defensive anchor.
McRoberts may or may not ever refine his game, but the Warriors may be in a perfect position to take a chance on him.
If Carl Landry leaves, the Dubs' only pure power forward will be David Lee. They'll certainly feature Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green heavily at the 4 spot, but will still need a guy who can give them size at that spot when they face bigger teams.
While Landry is a far better overall player than McRoberts, there will be fewer minutes to go around next season and McRoberts' defensive abilities and size may be as useful in a reduced role as Landry's offensive abilities would be.
The Warriors could certainly bring him in for a cheaper price tag, and his shaky track record won't allow him to ask for more than a one-year deal.