With Harrison Barnes moving to sixth man, minutes will be at a premium.
The Golden State Warriors come into training camp with high expectations, but the biggest mysteries still need to be resolved. The starting five looks to be set with Harrison Barnes moving to the sixth man, but the rest of the lineup still has question marks.
Now is the time for the new additions to get assimilated and push themselves to stand out in practice. Not only do the Warriors have free-agent acquisitions, but they also have two players coming over from Europe.
With that being said, let’s take a look at what is still unsettled.
How Will the Minutes Be Distributed?
The biggest question surrounding the Warriors is with all of the talent, where will all of the minutes go? Coach Mark Jackson will have to give his starters at least 30 minutes a game, but he will have to do an effective job of doling out the rest of the minutes.
With the addition of Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes will be moving to sixth man and should receive more than the 25.4 minutes that he logged last season. He won’t receive the 38.4 minutes per game that he played in the playoffs, but selected situations will warrant his presence.
The frontcourt will be a difficult place for the bench guys. With David Lee and Andrew Bogut getting 30-plus minutes per game, Marreese Speights, Jermaine O’Neal, Draymond Green, Ognjen Kuzmic and Festus Ezeli (when he returns in January) will be fighting for playing time.
Coach Jackson has an advantage, as he can rotate his tremendous depth to create mismatches and play who has the hot hand. As he said in this tweet, Jackson says it is not who starts, but who contributes.
Who Wins the Backup Point Guard Position?
The Warriors have a burgeoning superstar in point guard Steph Curry, but with the absence of Jarrett Jack on this season’s team, the Warriors do not have a legitimate backup. Toney Douglas was signed to step into that role, but now he has some more competition.
Douglas is now joined by Nemanja Nedovic, Seth Curry and Kent Bazemore in a pretty crowded backcourt. Douglas is known for his defense and how he spaces the floor, when he is not attacking.
Nedovic was the Warriors' only draft pick this year, and he showed off his game during EuroBasket 2013. He has the attacking ability and can go vertical, but his assist-to-turnover ratio has been relatively high throughout his career.
Bazemore will try to use his progressing ball-handling skills that he exemplified during summer league to go with his defensive and vertical abilities. He is working on shortening his shot to be a more reliable jump-shooter, and Steph Curry is impressed with his improvement.
Finally, Seth Curry will get a lot of attention, but he will have to prove that he belongs on an NBA court with his size. He can shoot, as proved in his time at Duke University, but he needs to show that can bang around the NBA floor and sustain his game.
How Much of an Impact Will the European Players Have?
Kuzmic, a 7'1", 251-pound center form Bosnia, is fighting back from a sprained ankle that he suffered during the offseason, and he hasn’t been given the approval for contact drills yet.
He is raw, and it will take him a while to get used to the skill level and speed of the NBA game. His best talents are currently his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities, but he will probably be going between Oakland and Santa Cruz to get some playing time.
On the other end, Nedovic is still waiting to make it to training camp, as he is trying to obtain a travel visa. He will bring explosiveness and solid ball-handling skills to the team.
The Warriors management was very excited to get a firsthand look at Nedovic before reaching out to draft him in the 2013 NBA draft. He gave them a taste of his playmaking abilities, his defensive presence and physical structure.
On a team that is successfully rebranding its defensive image, it helps that both players have solid defensive skills and will be able to contribute, as each player catches up to the speed of today’s NBA game.
That’s a Wrap
The Warriors are standing in a great position during training camp. They have a significantly deep roster and have the ability to see who fits best in a variety of situations.
The starting five look to be set, and Harrison Barnes begins the adjustment in his move to be sixth man. The team is in peak physical condition, and that should only help as it has to grind out victories in the later part of the season.
These questions posed need to be answered, but the Warriors will look to improve in every facet in order to win a Pacific Division and eventually an NBA title. This will be a very exciting season for Warriors fans.