The Golden State Warriors small forward position jumped into the spotlight and received a huge boost with the free-agent addition of Andre Iguodala. His addition was so strong that it bumped starter Harrison Barnes to the sixth-man role.
Both of the players will challenge and feed off of each other in order to fill any holes the team may have, and they can also play besides each other if Iguodala slides to the 2 position or Barnes fills in at the 4 spot.
As great as the top two candidates for the position look, the Dubs also have a slimmed-down Draymond Green waiting in the wings. He is similar to Barnes, as he can play both of the forward positions.
Now, let’s take a closer look at who the Warriors have at the 3 position.
Andre Iguodala will be a featured player in the Warriors system, as he will open up lanes, make plays to the basket and distribute the ball to moving targets. He is the life of the party that the Warriors have been looking to join for decades, and they are now right in the middle of it.
It all starts on defense, as this team has transformed during coach Mark Jackson’s run from an all-offensive focus to a team that prides itself on defense. There are still some cracks in the armor, but Iguodala will fill a lot of those holes.
He will be given the assignment to matchup against the opponent’s best perimeter player, and he will occasionally guard a slicker power forward. By shutting down the opponent’s main weapon, the remainder of the team can have an easier time on defense.
He can score the ball, but the best qualities provided by Andre are his abilities to penetrate and pass the ball in transition. Sure, he can finish, as evidenced by what he did against the Warriors, but the extra qualities provide that much more spacing.
As much as guard Steph Curry is the face of the team these days, Coach Jackson is going to give Iguodala a lot more responsibility on the defensive side of the ball. Andre can adjust to the Warriors free-flow offense throughout camp, but his main goal is to stop opponents.
Therein lays the biggest problem with Iguodala. As great of a player he is, his role needs to defined by Jackson.
Iguodala also needs to improve his three-point shooting and his percentage at the line. His free-throw numbers have decreased each year for the past three seasons.
Iguodala will find his groove with the team, and he should excel because the weight of the team is not squarely on his back. He will make the Warriors a more complete team and pull out wins that the team couldn’t find last season.
Projected Stat Line: 13.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 5.6 APG in 32 minutes per game
Harrison Barnes has a chance to evolve into the dominant playmaker as he shifts to a bench role. His excitement and energy will be a huge boost, as he hopes to continue the progression that he showed in last season’s playoff run.
Barnes’ biggest problem during the regular season was that he disappeared at times and was majorly inconsistent. He started every game he played, but he was not a go-to guy when the game was still undecided.
Now, he has a mentor in Iguodala, who can teach him the intricacies of defense and the small forward position, as he tries to develop into a featured player. Barnes has the athleticism and the tools to play in a similar style.
The biggest adjustment now lies in coming off the bench instead of starting every game. Barnes has the energy, but can he bring instant offense or make a game-changing play?
Only time will tell and Barnes can start getting accustomed to his new role during the preseason. Barnes will be a major factor in making the Warriors legitimate contenders by bringing his playoff-type game into this season.
If he struggles, Coach Jackson will have to find ways to insert him in the lineup to succeed and bring up his confidence level. Since Barnes has always been a diligent worker, I don’t see him missing this chance.
Barnes will become a baby Swiss Army knife of sorts and continue to develop his game along the lines of Iguodala.
Projected Stat Line: 11.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 1.3 APG in 28 minutes per game
The new Draymond Green is unrecognizable. Really.
Compared to the body frame that he held last season at 248 pounds, Green looks like he is built to run and use that new flexibility to drive to the hoop. He now has a svelte new body, thanks to a conditioning program that helped him lose 20 pounds.
He is the X-Factor that most teams will overlook, and Coach Jackson will utilize him in a lot of different situations. Green has an extremely high basketball IQ, so he knows where to be, how to disrupt the flow of the game and how to get open in the crucial moments.
He will look to put himself in even more advantageous positions this season.
It will be tough for Green to receive an extraordinary amount of minutes with the current talent on the roster. However, if he can continually push himself to grab that extra minute or two and make headlining plays, he will for sure see extra time.
Green focused during summer league and the offseason to drive to the basket more and get a little more physical. He won’t mind earning the trips to the charity stripe, but he has to convert those opportunities.
I expect Green to have a more seasoned game, which will include spotting up for jumpers and three-pointers, driving to the basket and playing more lock-down defense. He will for sure be more comfortable on the floor with his new physique.
Green is a leader, and he let that show when he was playing in Las Vegas. This is not his team yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he started demanding more respect going forward.
Projected Stat Line: 5.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 1.1 APG in 16 minutes per game