Players Who Golden State Warriors Most Need to Step Up Next Season
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Golden State Warriors have an exciting and dynamic team that is on the rise, but there are still some players who need to step up next season. If these players contribute at a more efficient rate, the team will be set to advance even further into the NBA Playoffs.
The biggest culprits, Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson, have been sent away to the Utah Jazz, in order to give the Warriors the financial flexibility to sign free-agent Andre Iguodala. However, there are still some players who need to increase their levels of production.
One of the biggest questions raised in the playoffs was the success of the team without All-Star David Lee. He averaged a double-double last season, but the Warriors had their biggest playoff success without him on the floor.
The other question that is floating around is how well Harrison Barnes can adapt to a sixth man role with newcomer Andre Iguodala pushing him out of the starting lineup. Will that force Barnes to step up his game or will he wallow in his new role??
The Warriors roster is very deep, but the team has some players that need to step up in different ways this up-coming season. Let’s take a closer look.
SF Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes wants to build upon his playoff success.
Harrison Barnes had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-type season last year. He was inconsistent and relatively average during the regular season, but he turned it up significantly during the post-season. The team was expecting for him to continue that trend into this upcoming season, but point forward Andre Iguodala joined the equation.
Instead of being comfortable in a position where he started every game he played last season, Barnes looks to be the new sixth man. He will have to learn how to come off the bench and provide significant energy and efficiency when he plays.
Barnes will need to show his teammates that he can play at both the small forward position and the stretch 4, given what game plan coach Mark Jackson executes. Barnes has always been a hard-worker, who has a team-first mentality and the drive to succeed.
The bottom line is whether or not he can improve based on the minutes he gets and can he join the lineup when it comes down to crunch time? He wasn’t the first choice last season, so he has a lot to prove now.
PF David Lee
David Lee looks to continue his All-Star ways.
David Lee surprised everyone with his stellar play last season and was a key piece of the team when center Andrew Bogut missed most of the first half of the season. He was instrumental in the big East Coast road trip, where they posted a 6-1 record.
David Lee went on to earn the first All-Star appearance for a Warriors’ player since Latrell Sprewell in 1997, and he helped the Warriors secure their first playoff appearance since the “We Believe” team in 2006-07.
However, Lee was injured in his first playoff game, but fought through the hip-flexor injury to make limited appearances in five more playoff games. The team looked to be better off without Lee, as Harrison Barnes stepped up and they advanced past the Denver Nuggets.
Lee needs to prove it to the fans and his teammates that he makes the team better with him on the floor. With the addition of Andre Iguodala, Lee will have another weapon at his disposal and someone that will attract defenders away from Lee.
He will continue to be a rebounding monster with a team-first attitude, but he will need to adapt to pieces in place. If he can help the Dubs beat the top teams in the league with his play (including the playoffs), then he has helped make his case.
G Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore will look to translate his off-court success to on-the-court.
Kent Bazemore wants to transition from being an All-Star bench celebrator to someone who can regularly contribute to the Warriors’ roster. He started making his case again in the NBA Summer League, but he wants to be part of the action during the regular season and playoffs.
The absence of Jarrett Jack on the squad this season, along with the recent waiving of guard Scott Machado, will definitely help Bazemore make this season’s squad. Bazemore is the last remaining player to have his salary guaranteed, but all indications lean to the Warriors’ management picking up his contract.
He was an undrafted free agent, who made last season’s roster based on his Summer League play. His greatest strengths are his defense and his long wingspan, but he is working to perfect his shooting skills. He also stitched the number 499 into his shoes as a reminder of what people think about his ability.
If Bazemore continues to put in the effort, he will earn the guaranteed contract this season and maybe a look in seasons beyond. Coach Mark Jackson’s team emphasis is about defense, so Bazemore stands a good chance to get in the game at key moments and do more celebrating on the floor.
C Andrew Bogut
Andrew Bogut shows off his offensive firepower.
Andrew Bogut woke up the Warriors' fans with his dominating play in the playoffs. He shocked the Oracle crowd with how he could control the paint, space out the opponents and affect shots with just being on the court.
Bogut is going into the last year of his contract, so he will have a chance to prove to the Warriors that he can take this team to the next level and be the center that they can build around. He wants to shake off that injury-prone moniker and play as many games as possible this season.
As everyone remembers, he was the prized piece of the Monta Ellis trade, but he has not returned to health or the same form as when he played for the Milwaukee Bucks. He is currently resting and rehabbing in Australia and expects to be close to 100 percent going into the season.
Bogut likes making huge blocks to get the boisterous Oracle crowd involved in the game, so I expect him to be a game-changer. I also expect him to contribute a lot more on the offensive side of the ball, where he should increase his point total to 8-10 PPG.
SG Klay Thompson
Thompson needs to differentiate his game this season.
Klay Thompson is one of the better shooters in today’s game, as he teams with Steph Curry to form what coach Mark Jackson believes is the “greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game”. Thompson is known for his catch-and-shoot prowess and his increasing defensive abilities.
He has a very high basketball IQ, being the son of Mychal Thompson (the No. 1 pick in the 1978 NBA Draft), to go with a high work ethic. He has matured in his two seasons with the Warriors and is only 23 years old.
He currently just finished his run with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp, where he looked productive and set his sights on making the team in 2014. As you can remember, he showed major improvement playing against the likes of Kobe Bryant at last year’s gig.
The scoring and beautiful shots can keep Thompson at his current plateau, but if he wants to continue on the same path as backcourt mate Curry, he will need to diversify his game. Klay needs to show the league that he can handle the ball and finish at the rim.
“Klay-ups” need to be a thing of the past, and he has to use his body to generate more free-throw attempts. He was last in the league at his shooting guard position in creating trips to the charity stripe.
If he can shy away from settling for shots, Thompson has the ability to continue to grow and use his 6’7” size to exploit opponents. The more dynamic he is with the ball, the more space he will create, which will only increase his production.