Klay Thompson is trying to catch Stephen Curry.
The Golden State Warriors have made it through a rough patch after the first six weeks, by both fighting off injuries and playing improved Western Conference teams. Stephen Curry has shown his leadership skills while trying to keep hold of his top power ranking spot.
The rest of his teammates have contributed in a very solid manner. Andrew Bogut made the game-saving block versus the Sacramento Kings, and Andre Iguodala hit the game-winning jumper to fend off the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Klay Thompson has come into his own this season, as he is no longer limited to the catch-and-shoot. He is making plays, finishing at the basket and occasionally gets fouled.
However, problems still exist as the bench is razor thin, and the team is still relying too much on the isolation play. David Lee is a fantastic offensive player, but he is not a post-up player, and ISOs are not a major part of the unique style of the Warriors’ offense.
Let’s take a look at the Warriors power rankings and see where everyone stands after the first six weeks.
Nemanja Nedovic is gettting more playing time and a chance to show his skills.
14. Ognjen Kuzmic
Ognjen Kuzmic is a big man with limited experience, and he will be out until at least January after injuring his right hand. He has potential, but he will need some consistent playing time with the NBA D-League Santa Cruz Warriors in order to develop.
When Kuzmic returns from injury, he will have a hard time finding meaningful minutes. If he can improve his game in Santa Cruz, he could have a chance, should he later rejoin the team, to give starting big men a breather.
13. Festus Ezeli
Festus Ezeli has not played one minute in the regular season, as he is still recovering from right knee surgery that he had at the beginning of the offseason. He made a substantial impact last a year ago, filling in for center Andrew Bogut, who he was on the bench with the persistent ankle injury.
Ezeli is scheduled to return to the team after the new year, and his impact will be determined by how well he can adapt to the upgraded team.
12. Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore had very high hopes entering this season to gain some more meaningful playing time. He tried to embrace the opportunity to backing up Stephen Curry at point guard, but the experiment showed he is more of the shooting-guard type.
Bazemore needs to rally, as his minutes have been pared in late November and early December. He has to just relax and play his style of basketball or else he will become a permanent cheerleader.
11. Nemanja Nedovic
Nemanja Nedovic is still getting accustomed to the NBA, but he is earning some extra playing time with the injuries to Toney Douglas and Andre Iguodala. He is showing some spark in his limited minutes, and at the very least he is getting the opportunity to work through the growing pains.
He lit it up the scoreboard with 31 points while playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors, and coach Mark Jackson is open to giving Nedovic some more chances at the NBA level.
Toney Douglas was signed primarily to be the backup to point guard Stephen Curry. He provided that capability for only seven games, until he was knocked out with a stress reaction to his left tibia.
Douglas was coming off one of his better games, when he scored 21 points versus the San Antonio Spurs and hit five three-pointers. His field-goal and three-point percentage have improved over what he has put up in the past three seasons.
He will look to build upon the positives when he finally returns to the court.
Marreese Speights looked like an economical way to replace the talents of Carl Landry. Speights was coming off sound performances after being traded midseason to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012-13 year.
He has failed to find his groove so far in Oakland, as he has stayed too often with his bread-and-butter jumper. He was signed to a three-year, $11 million contract in the offseason, but he looks like he is stealing from the Dubs.
His season averages so far are a career worst: Speights is shooting in 33 percent, and he is putting up just 4.1 points a game. He is only getting about 11 minutes per contest, but his time may be cutting into the minutes of the more spirited Draymond Green.
Speights needs to get comfortable in a hurry, if he wants to contribute to this team.
Jermaine O’Neal made a profound statement at halftime during one of the biggest comeback wins in NBA history. He was a huge reason that the Warriors rallied back from a 27-point deficit in a recent home game against the Toronto Raptors
O’Neal had been out for a portion of the season because of a right groin strain and bruised right knee. He is now playing through a sprained right wrist.
O’Neal already has 17 years in the league, and the Warriors need that experience and leadership to get to the next level. His stats are not quite on par with last year’s numbers, but it’s only a marginal decrease.
Draymond Green is only in his second NBA season, but he plays like he is a grizzled veteran. Green is the glue guy who will do anything and everything to attain a winning result.
Green acts like a coach out of the floor with his tremendous basketball IQ and understands where he needs to be on every play. He has the attitude that it takes to succeed in the NBA and doesn’t back down from anyone.
His statistics show that he is producing at almost twice the level of last season, and he now is demonstrating the ability to stick three-points shots.
He will continue to fight for additional minutes as he is truly the Warriors’ X-factor. Green's ability to play both forward positions gives coach Mark Jackson a real luxury when it comes to setting up frontcourt rotations.
David Lee has been good with the Warriors so far this season, but he has not been as consistently great as he was during his All-Star season a year ago. He has been criticized of his inability beat his defender on iso plays, and his offensive post work has not been headline grabbing.
He is still a consistent scorer and rebounder; however, his once automatic double-double on a nightly basis is a thing of the past. Through 21 games, Lee has only nine double-doubles.
Having lost some weight this offseason, Lee is marginally better this year on the defensive end than he has been in past seasons. Still, he must work harder to improve his post defense and demonstrate that he can handle one-on-one matchups.
Lee has to watch out for up-and-coming Draymond Green, who is very skilled on the defensive side of the ball and is itching to take more minutes.
Lee should figure it out and return to his All-Star level ability. However, with all of the talent in the West, he may not make a return trip to that game.
Harrison Barnes got a late start on the season by missing the first four games. In his role as the sixth man, he was gelling with the new offense at the start of the year. However, Barnes was forced to return to the starting lineup with the injury last month to Andre Iguodala.
He started the season at a slower pace, but he has excelled as of late and shown the potential that he displayed during last season’s playoff run. The more time he has on the floor, the bigger impact he should have.
When Iguodala returns, Coach Jackson will have to find the minutes for Barnes or use him in situations where the Warriors need a boost. His athleticism really provides a spark and gets the fans on their feet.
Barnes has 12 games in double-digit scoring through the first 17 games. His points-per-game average, field-goal percentages, assists and steals are at a higher clip than last season at this time.
Andrew Bogut has not shown the monstrous presence that he provided during last season’s playoff run, but he is the anchor of the Warriors’ frontcourt. He is like the guy at school who doesn’t take anything from anybody.
His rebounding and scoring totals have increased from last season, and he should continue to increase his stats when everybody returns healthy. He still makes the big defensive stop, like when he preserved a Golden State win over the Sacramento Kings with a last-second block.
Bogut may be wearing down because he has to play more minutes because of all of the frontcourt injuries. With the return of Festus Ezeli and Ognjen Kuzmic next year, he should be fresh and ready for a repeat playoff performance.
His biggest weakness is his free-throw shooting, where he is below 50 percent for the season. He needs to to continue to work on improving that aspect.
Andre Iguodala is a huge missing link for the Golden State Warriors. Since injuring his hamstring against the Los Angeles Lakers, the team has posted a 4-5 record, including the loss in the game in which he got hurt.
His defense is a fundamental part of Golden State's success, especially with the way he helps keep opposing offenses from isolating and exploiting David Lee. The team is getting a reality check without his services.
He has demonstrated his ability to pass the ball by tallying over 10 assists three times this season. He has shown off his ball-hawking wingspan and defensive anticipation by making three or more steals four times already this season.
Iguodala is on the mend and should return soon. Once he returns, the team should be as powerful as it was at the start of the season.
He has improved all of his shooting percentages, including a marginal increase in his free-throw percentage. He is currently averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Klay Thompson is having his breakout year in his third professional season. He is averaging a career high 20.9 PPG and is developing an ability to penetrate off the dribble and get to the line.
If Thompson shoots effectively, the Warriors have an extremely good chance of winning. In the Warriors wins, he is shooting 55 percent from the field and 57.4 percent from behind the arc.
In he loses, Thompson is shooting only 37.6 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from three-point range. Since he is the team’s second-leading scorer, he is a crucial part of the offense.
Thompson is holding up his end in making the Splash Brothers the most dynamic backcourt in the game. They are arguably the best shooting backcourt of all time, but now they are evolving other facets of their individual games.
Stephen Curry retains his spot at the top of the chart because without him, the offense is stuck in neutral. He has one of basketball's most beautiful strokes, but he is also a creator and keeps the Warriors offense in motion.
He leads the team in scoring with a 22.5 PPG average, but he records 8.9 assists and 4.2 boards to go with it. The team is winless in the three games that Curry sat because of injuries.
His 8.9 assists are currently a career high, but he is still a little bit careless with the ball, averaging 3.8 turnovers per game, a 2.34 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Curry should improve with the addition of Andre Iguodala on the floor, since it will give Curry more space and another weapon to feed the ball. He will only improve going forward and should easily reach his next milestone of securing his first All-Star gig.
The only question marks that remain are whether he can limit his turnovers and improve as a defender.