Ben Margot/Associated Press
Mark Jackson must come up with the right lineups when it matters.
As any good sixth man would tell you, it’s not about who starts, it’s about who finishes the game. With the Warriors now featuring one of the deepest teams in the league, however, it is still not yet clear who will earn those final, crucial minutes.
Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala—barring injury or foul trouble—will more than likely be involved in any late-game scenario. You can probably throw Klay Thompson into the mix as well. Those last two spots, though, will probably see numerous different combinations depending on the matchup.
Andrew Bogut, despite being the anchor of the Warriors’ defense, is an enormous liability late in games due to his poor free-throw shooting. It’s not unprecedented that dominant big men have been forced to sit late in games; Phil Jackson was famously forced to remove Shaquille O’Neal for that exact reason numerous times.
With that in mind, a smaller lineup featuring David Lee as the sole big man seems highly likely. While his defense leaves a lot to be desired, his rebounding and scoring prowess makes him dangerous late in games. That leaves one final spot, and the Warriors have a few options.
The three players most likely to get their numbers called are Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green or Steve Blake. Each one offers the Warriors their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
With Barnes, an explosive element is added to the offense, a player who has shown the ability to score at will in the past. Should the Warriors find themselves down and in need of quick buckets, Barnes will likely get the call.
Green is quite the opposite, a player with a limited offensive arsenal but with a utility belt as loaded as Batman’s. He can defend multiple positions, is always quick to the ball and provides intensity on the defensive side of the court that you don’t always see from Barnes.
Green will likely receive the call if the Warriors are trying to preserve a lead late in the game.
The final option is an interesting one because it would be the smallest of the three lineups. What it would lack in size, however, it makes up for in shooting and experience. Inserting a proven veteran like Blake would help alleviate much of the late-game sloppiness the Warriors have been prone to as of late.
Putting the ball in his hands and running multiple sets with Thompson and Curry coming off screens is potentially the best of the three lineups and one that could see a lot of run in the near future.