Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Golden State Warriors
To rank each player on the Golden State Warriors in one continuous list does a disservice to five players.
Can you guess who those five might be?
With all of their starters healthy, the Warriors are 19-4. They're 5-10 with just one starter sitting, and that's due to a supporting cast of reserves that falls short not only of the starters but, one could argue, of all other benches in the NBA.
So while I will not be grading each player, only ranking them, note that if they were to be graded, there would be a dramatic climb up the alphabet between players No. 6 and No. 5.
With that in mind, let's get into the first-half power rankings for Golden State. Players are ranked solely on performance and importance to the team; expectations entering the season are not factored in.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com
Not Top 10
Kent Bazemore, SG
After establishing himself as an all-star benchwarmer last season, Kent Bazemore led the Warriors to a 2013 Las Vegas Summer League title, creating the impression that he may be far more than a great cheerleader.
So far, his cheerleading is still his best trait. Bazemore has actually become a weaker defender in year two, and he has continued to struggle mightily with his shot both from the field and the free-throw line.
Nemanja Nedovic, PG
Nemanja Nedovic has been up and down from the D-League this season, appearing in only 21 games. There is good reason for this, as his defense and shooting makes Bazemore look like Bruce Bowen.
Nedovic has shown an ability to penetrate that the Warriors' other backup point guards have not, but he's far too great a liability elsewhere to get consistent court time at this stage in his career.
Ognjen Kuzmic, C
If not for injuries to Jermaine O'Neal and Festus Ezeli, Ognjen Kuzmic would never see the court.
The rookie big man has size (7'1", 235 lbs) and is averaging 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes, but he is far too slow defensively and incompetent offensively (30 percent from the field, 6.4 turnovers per 36 minutes) to play in the NBA.
10. Toney Douglas
Toney Douglas has more or less lived up to expectations on the defensive end, as he's provided the second unit with activity and pressure on the perimeter.
Offensively, Douglas has been a huge disappointment.
Technically the team's backup point guard, Douglas has failed to initiate any semblance of an offense. His 2.5 assists per 36 minutes is by far the lowest average of his career and ranks below that of six of his teammates—including two other members of the bench brigade.
And he hasn't made up elsewhere for his passing deficiencies: He is shooting only 37.2 percent from the field, 32.2 percent from three and 62.5 percent from the line.
9. Jermaine O'Neal
Even at the very end of his career, O'Neal has been a productive big man for Golden State.
His per-36 averages of 12.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks made him a solid backup center early in the season. Despite inconsistency shooting the ball, O'Neal clearly displayed that he still has the ability to consistently create quality looks from the post. This bodes well for him if and when he returns from a wrist injury suffered in early December.
The 35-year-old has also become a vocal leader for Golden State, which he has and will continue to be whether or not he comes back to the court.
8. Marreese Speights
Through the first 23 games of the season, Marreese Speights' play was nothing short of pathetic. He averaged 3.8 points on an abysmal 32.7 percent shooting, while turning the ball over and fouling at an alarming rate.
Speights was so bad that he played himself out of a rotation that desperately needed him, as he was the only healthy big man on the bench.
With a 16-point, nine-rebound game against the Houston Rockets on Dec 13, Speights turned his season around offensively. He's averaged 7.9 points in only 13.6 minutes since, with 3.8 rebounds and a much-improved 44.9 field-goal percentage.
His defense has remained lackluster, but that's mainly due to his temporarily playing out of position as the team's backup center. His effort on that end has also picked up since early in the season.
7. Draymond Green
Despite a still-unglamorous stat line, Draymond Green is likely the most improved holdover on the Golden State roster.
Green has made himself less of an offensive liability, knocking down threes at a decent clip (33.8 percent, up from 20.9 last season).
Defensively, he has gone from energy guy to actual pest. After getting in shape over the offseason, Green is averaging 1.0 steals and 0.9 blocks per game—excellent numbers for a guy who plays less than 20 minutes a night.
He remains a ferocious rebounder, consistently beating bigger men to the ball. He's also one of the league's elite players at winning "50-50 ball" situations.
6. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes has had an up-and-down season, which is a down in and of itself.
After a rookie season that included both can't-take-my-eyes-off-this-kid performances and games in which he seemed invisible on the court, Barnes was expected to parlay a year of experience and a strong 2013 postseason showing into a breakout 2013-14 campaign.
Barnes has shown some progress since last year. He's generally far more aggressive offensively, which is a good thing for someone with his physical gifts. He's also a much-improved defender, which may have something to do with playing under the tutelage of Andre Iguodala.
However, Barnes has remained virtually the same player in his consistency and his production. His per-36 averages are nearly identical in every category and slightly down in rebounding, while his shooting percentage from deep is up but down from inside the arc.
5. Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson's numbers do not resemble those of the fifth-best player on a team.
The third-year shooting guard is averaging 19.1 points, 3.0 threes, 3.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks while shooting 45.3 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from deep and 76.3 percent from the line.
Not all of those numbers are stellar, but Thompson is at least average in all statistical categories and elite in some.
Defensively, Thompson is an above-average perimeter defender and a very good defensive player overall due to his ability to guard post-up players and to recover when beaten off the dribble.
Why, then, is Thompson only fifth in these rankings?
It has something to do with that aforementioned 19-4 starting unit.
4. David Lee
Here's another player whose numbers seem to warrant a far higher ranking.
David Lee is averaging 19.1 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 80.7 percent from the line.
Lee was an All-Star last year when he posted comparable numbers.
While he may not make the All-Star team this season—due in part to the almost-guaranteed inclusion of teammate Stephen Curry and the presence of power forwards Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki—Lee remains one of the NBA's top five power forwards due to his ability to combine post scoring, mid-range shooting, defensive and offensive rebounding, ball-handling and passing.
3. Andre Iguodala
Iguodala has always had a greater impact on the game than his numbers would suggest. This season, that disparity is more pronounced than ever.
Posting his lowest lowest numbers in almost every category since his rookie season, the 29-year-old is averaging 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.3 blocks a night. Not bad for a down year.
Only, it isn't a down year. He is shooting a blistering 52.8 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from three-point range, both the highest numbers of his career. But the way Iguodala impacts the game simply cannot be displayed in numbers.
One would be hard pressed to find a better defender on the planet, as Iguodala locks up superstars, devours weaker assignments and plays the passing lanes as well as anybody.
His ability to get steals or cause turnovers gives the Warriors ample transition opportunities. Iguodala is lethal on the break, as he can score, pass or trail the play at an elite level.
He is guaranteed to miss the All-Star Game due to his non-flashy numbers and because of the 12 games for which he was sidelined, but there are certainly fewer than 12 players in the Western Conference who have the same two-way impact as Iguodala.
2. Andrew Bogut
Do not count Andrew Bogut as one of those players who impact the game on both ends more profoundly than Iguodala. However, as the center, Bogut's defensive dominance is the second-most important ingredient to this team's winning recipe.
Everything about the Australian's defensive game is stellar.
He has elite strength, which allows him to keep even the best post scorers out of deep position. He is quick on his feet and has excellent leaping ability and even better timing, allowing him to block and change shots from bigs and penetrators alike. Despite his shot-blocking prowess and constant rotation to provide help defense, he still manages to dominate the defensive glass like few others.
Most importantly, Bogut's presence in the lane deters opposing drivers from attacking the rim. This allows the team's wing defenders to play tighter defense and contest shots, knowing that their man does not want to take it into the paint.
For good measure, he's also shooting 62.8 percent from the field so far this year, while also boosting the offense with passing and playmaking abilities that someone with his size is not supposed to have.
1. Stephen Curry
Curry is also not as good a two-way player as Iguodala. He has improved his defense a great deal this season—to the point where he has to be considered an above-average defender for his position—but he is not a impact player on that end the same way that Iguodala is on either side.
The reason Curry is No. 1 is that he might in fact be No. 1 in the entire NBA offensively.
Curry is not the NBA's most prolific or efficient scorer, but he's high up in both areas. His three-point percentage (38.9) is far below his career average, but it is an excellent percentage considering that he knocks down the third-most triples in the league.
What sets Curry apart from just about the entire field is that he is as elite a passer as he is a scorer. Curry is second in the NBA with 9.4 assists per game, and his ability to find players with either hand through any kind of defense is something currently unparalleled in the league.
There simply is not a player in the NBA who is so hard to stop from scoring and also so lethal when setting up his teammates. He also grabs 4.5 rebounds a game, a ridiculous number for a point guard.
Good defense, very good rebounding and MVP-level offense? It's no wonder that Curry leads the NBA in plus-minus.
Of course, the four guys he's usually playing alongside help with that, too.
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