Spotlighting and Breaking Down the Golden State Warriors' Shooting Guards

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Spotlighting and Breaking Down the Golden State Warriors' Shooting Guards
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are one of the league's most exciting teams to watch. 

Obviously, it's easy to just say that. They boast one of the league's top young point guards in Stephen Curry and have a ravenous fanbase that is eager for a winner. 

But the numbers show how excited their fans have been with this team. 

Over the past three years, the Warriors have seen their attendance numbers jump. They went from averaging the 11th-most fans per game at just over 18,000 in 2010 to being in the top five last year at more than 19,300 per contest. 

Winning certainly played a role in seeing attendance jump so high in such a short period of time. 

And besides their dynamic point guard, what other factors have played a role in the Warriors' improved prospects?

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
All signs point to the player who occupies the job opposite of Curry. The Warriors had been searching for years for an elite shooting guard, and now they finally have one in Klay Thompson. 

But who else will be eating up minutes at the 2-guard spot?

Here is a breakdown of that rotation, including projected stats based on last year's performances and the likely trajectory given the team's overall talent. 

 

Klay Thompson

The Warriors swung for the fences and for once got one right in the 2011 draft. Thompson came out of Washington State known exclusively as a shooter. 

Scouts knew that he could shoot the lights out, but he slipped to the 11th overall pick because there were concerns that he wouldn't be able to do much more at the next level. 

He showed right away that he was as advertised as a shooter. A career 39 percent three-point shooter in college, he knocked down an impressive 41 percent of his triples as a rookie. 

By the end of the year, Thompson had taken the starting guard spot and was poised for a breakout sophomore campaign. As a second-year player in 2012, he continued to blossom in Oakland, improving in many areas of play including rebounding, assists, steals and most importantly scoring. 

However, his shooting numbers dipped slightly, moving down to just over 40 percent from three-point land and hovering around 42 percent from the field. 

That being said, he improved as a defender. While he will never be confused with Kobe Bryant as an athlete, he does have excellent size and length for a shooting guard. 

And while he lacks elite quickness, he makes up for it with solid instincts and improving strength. 

Where the Warriors want to see improvement from Thompson is in his overall shooting percentage. For a guy who likely will be the team's second option on offense, he needs to increase his shooting percentage closer to 45 percent. 

Two of his problems are that he doesn't create his own shot particularly well and he rarely creates for teammates. 

On a team with Curry, that shouldn't be too much of an issue, and it rarely was last year. Add to the mix that Andre Iguodala is entering the picture to take pressure off Thompson on defense, and you could see a breakout year for the shooting guard. 

That being said, there are only so many basketballs to go around, so you may not see a huge improvement in his scoring numbers. 

2013-14 projected stats:

80 GP, 36 MPG, 16.8 PPG, 3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 44.5 FG%, 41.3 3PT%

 

Andre Iguodala

Sure, I know what you are thinking. Isn't Iguodala going to start at small forward?

Yes, and that's what makes things interesting here. 

The Warriors last year counted on Thompson to play the lion's share of minutes at the 2-guard spot, and rookie Harrison Barnes was the starter at small forward. 

This offseason, the Warriors decided to bring in Iguodala to supplant Barnes at the 3. Barnes will likely move to the bench to back him up. 

Since it seems likely that Barnes will enter the game as the first sub on most nights, he mainly will be replacing either Thompson or Iguodala. And while Iguodala can play either the 2 or the 3, Barnes is a prototypical small forward. His skills don't translate nearly as well to the shooting guard spot as Iguodala's do. 

Therefore, regardless of whether Iguodala or Thompson goes to the bench, Barnes will likely stay at the small forward spot. 

This would shift Iguodala to the 2 when Thompson leaves the game. 

Iguodala was an excellent pickup for the Warriors. He is incredibly athletic and runs the floor impressively, and while he doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact, he can score in a number of ways. 

The real impact that he will have on this team is on the defensive end. 

He is blessed with great strength and incredible instincts as a defender. He frustrates opponents with his physical play and his ability to get inside their heads and push them out of their comfort zone. 

Projecting stats for him gets a little tricky when you are talking about the shooting guard rotation. His numbers below are what I see happening overall, with him splitting his time mainly between small forward and the 2, with the bulk of his minutes coming at the 3. 

I could see him playing about 12 minutes per game at the 2. 

Obviously, that doesn't leave any minutes for anyone else, and this doesn't seem to be a problem. The only other guys on the roster who could play minutes at shooting guard are Toney Douglas and Kent Bazemore. I think Douglas will instead take over the role of Jarrett Jack last year and back up Curry.

Projected stats:

78 GP, 14 PPG, 36.8 MPG, 2.1 SPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.2 APG, 44.2 FG%, 30.2 3PT%

 

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