Final Regular-Season Grades for Every Golden State Warriors Player
As the 2013-14 regular season comes to an end, it's time to give out report cards.
Before class is dismissed, each Golden State Warriors player will be evaluated based on their preseason expectations and how their performance measures up.
Statistics will be considered, but the main factors will be if the player filled the role that the team wanted or needed them to fill in order to win. Did they come close? Was their role redefined midseason? Did they exceed their original expectations?
All players who are currently on the Warriors roster will be considered, although players who played less than 100 minutes throughout the season will be given an "incomplete" alongside their grade.
So, as the playoffs begin, here's where each Warriors player stands through 82 games—or 78, 67 or 44 games, considering the team's injury problems.
Also included on each full report card is a bonus video of each player's highlight play of the season, according to yours truly.
Hilton Armstrong, C
Hilton Armstrong was signed to two 10-day contracts this season before the club decided to ink him for the remainder of the campaign. Even with injuries to centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, the 29-year-old has played far too few minutes to be given a complete report card, and whether he will be active this postseason is still unclear.
In the 14 games and 65 minutes he has played this season, he's grabbed an impressive 37 rebounds. Almost all of these boards came in garbage time, but they are indicative of Armstrong's veteran approach—play hard no matter the situation.
Other than that, he's been extremely limited on both ends.
Grade: C (incomplete)
Harrison Barnes, SF
An appearance on last season's All-Rookie first team and a breakout playoff performance had everyone expecting Harrison Barnes to have a strong sophomore campaign. Optimists picked him to win Sixth Man of the Year, while even pessimists expected him to be one of the league's better scorers off the bench.
Going into next season, those pessimists will be the optimists. Barnes has not only struggled to grow since last season, he's taken a significant step backward. He has not only failed to be a top-notch sixth man, he has failed to be the Warriors' top option off the bench.
Every major scoring statistic—points per 36 minutes (11.8), field-goal percentage (39.5), three-point percentage (34.1), free-throw percentage (74.0)—is down from last year. One would only call this a shooting slump if they had not watched Barnes all season as I did. The 21-year-old has shown far bigger problems than a broken shot.
The indisputable fact that his confidence has been shattered is not even the worst of it. That would be his inability to fight his lack of confidence with aggression, adjustments and even some good, old-fashioned anger.
Sadly, he doesn't even appear to be mad that he's failing. No one can fairly say he doesn't care, but it is hard to watch him play and believe that he cares enough to have a long, productive NBA career.
Final Grade: D
Steve Blake, PG
Steve Blake came to the Warriors at the trading deadline, as the team desperately needed a backup point guard. Blake was brought in to run the offense with the reserves, give Stephen Curry rest, and allow Curry to play off the ball.
Nothing special was being asked of Blake individually, but whether or not he succeeded in his relatively modest role had the potential to determine whether or not the team would make the playoffs, how far it would go, if the head coach would be back next season, and if the franchise player would be able to stay healthy.
Blake's time in Oakland started off excellent and has regressed to mediocre. Overall, his 7.3 points, 5.6 assists and 1.8 turnovers per 36 minutes are far better than the numbers that any other backup point guard had put up before the Blake trade.
More importantly, the team has made the playoffs and Curry has remained rested and healthy. Advancing past Round 1 looked like a strong possibility until Andrew Bogut cracked his ribs, and Mark Jackson has garnered support from everywhere except the team's ownership.
Blake has not single-handedly made this happen, but the fact that it has happened means that the team has accomplished the goals that the Blake trade was supposed to help it accomplish.
Final Grade: B
Andrew Bogut, C
Just before the season, the Warriors signed Andrew Bogut to a three-year, $36 million contract extension. A year-and-a-half earlier, they traded their franchise player, Monta Ellis, to acquire him, even though Bogut was out with a broken ankle.
Both times, the expectations were self-evident: This guy was supposed to be a franchise center.
When on the court, he has been as advertised. There aren't five better centers in the NBA than a healthy Bogut. In his 67 games this season, his 10.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 62.7 field-goal percentage can attest to that.
Those numbers still do not do Bogut justice. There is not a better all-around defensive center in the NBA, as Bogut combines rim protection, rebounding, pick-and-roll defending, post-up defending and defensive quarterbacking in a way that only Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah can similarly claim.
He's also among the best screen-setters in the Association and is one of the better passing bigs in the game. Bogut tied with Noah to lead the NBA in defensive rating this year (96) while putting up an impressive offensive rating of 115 (Noah's was 111).
The only issue is that Bogut seems to always get hurt, and whether they are random occurrences or not, his injury problems cannot be ignored. Not when he cost $36 million and Monta Ellis. Not when he is likely to miss all of the postseason that he helped lead the team to.
Final Grade: B+
Jordan Crawford, PG/SG
Before the Blake acquisition, the Warriors traded Toney Douglas for Jordan Crawford, hoping the shooting guard could handle backup point guard duties (he had been doing a good job running the Boston Celtics offense). While he eventually moved into a more comfortable role, this was the initial expectation.
Crawford quickly proved to be a bad fit at point guard. The bench offense tanked with Crawford at the helm, and he struggled to guard opposing point guards. This forced the Warriors to move Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks (also acquired in the Crawford trade) for Blake.
While Crawford's performance at point guard was underwhelming, it was an unfair expectation to begin with. His true identity is as an irrational confidence guy, and he thrived once Blake's arrival allowed him to settle into that role.
Update: He ended the regular season with a career-high, 41-point game. I'll bump his grade up one mark for that.
Final Grade: B-
Stephen Curry, PG
Ever since the Ellis trade, this has been Curry's franchise. As such, the expectation of him last year was to become the franchise player. He outdid what anyone thought he would do, playing at an MVP level down the stretch and taking over the postseason like he did during his days at Davidson.
Entering this season, Curry was viewed as a superstar—a player who could make the All-Star team and still have a disappointing year. He was expected to do nothing less than make an All-NBA team, lead the Warriors to 50-plus wins and be the best shooting-passing threat since Steve Nash in his prime.
Check, check, check and then some. Curry played in 78 games for the second straight season, and his averages of 24.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals on 47.1 percent shooting, 42.4 percent three-point shooting and 88.5 percent free-throw shooting create a combination of numbers the league has never really seen.
He followed up the greatest three-point shooting season of all time with the fourth-greatest of all time. He started the NBA All-Star Game, is guaranteed an All-NBA spot and led the Warriors to 51 wins. The most impressive thing, however, is none of this.
The fact is that Curry expanded his game in a way this season that only the great ones do.
He raised his field-goal percentage 20 points, even though his three-point volume increased while his percentage dropped 29 points. He got to the line 0.8 more times than last season, scored 1.1 additional points and had assists by 1.6 per game. He placed himself with the elite passers in the game and became a more committed, competent defender.
He hit six game-winning shots, three of which came inside of two seconds. When it wasn't Curry hitting game-winners, he was finding the guy who was hitting them. He finished fourth in the NBA in win shares, after Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
He should also finish third in MVP voting, although he almost certainly will not.
Final Grade: A
Draymond Green, SF/PF
Although the news of Draymond Green's offseason weight loss made most people think he'd be a slightly more dynamic player in 2013-14, his role was still limited entering the season. He was the fourth or fifth guy off the bench, following Barnes, Jermaine O'Neal, Toney Douglas and arguably Marreese Speights.
It's hard to remember that far back.
After averaging only 19.3 minutes per game and garnering zero starts during the first 50 games of the season, Green saw an increase to 26.7 minutes during the final 32, while he started 12 times.
There are reasons out of his control—namely injuries to David Lee, Andre Iguodala and Bogut, along with poor play from Barnes and Speights—but Green seized minutes that should have been his all season. The second-year forward became one of the league's best defensive specialists this season with the NBA's No. 4 defensive rating after Noah, Bogut and Paul George.
The next three players are Roy Hibbert, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard.
Green's offensive game has expanded as well, but his hustle plays and pound-for-pound rebounding excellence are still his biggest assets—just as he is now clearly the Warriors' biggest asset off the bench.
Final Grade: A
Andre Iguodala, SF
As the team's biggest free-agency signing since David Lee in 2010—if not since Rick Barry in 1972—Iguodala was supposed to turn a 47-win No. 6 seed into a 50-plus-win, top-four-seeded team that could compete for a conference title.
As the best player on his team for most of his career, including being the leader of a 57-win Denver Nuggets team in 2012-13, combining Iguodala with Curry was expected to give the Warriors tremendous leadership and, according to someone, the best starting five in the NBA.
This season has been the ultimate testament to Iguodala's game. He strained his hamstring only 13 games into the campaign, missed a month of action and has not been himself since. He has clearly lacked confidence in his body and has been without the explosive burst that has made him as well-known as he is.
He has also had to take on a smaller role offensively than ever before due to volume-scorers such as Curry, Lee and Klay Thompson. And yet, despite all of this, Iguodala led the NBA in plus-minus rating—by a lot.
Leaders are generally pegged as such for a propensity to take over games with the ball in their hands and to score when the team needs it most. Iguodala can do that—he hit two buzzer-beaters this season—but he usually leads in a different way. He leads on defense. He leads by starting the fast break. He leads by getting his teammates the ball in the right spot.
There is likely not a guy in the NBA who is more fun to play with than Iguodala, and that, along with Curry's growth, is one of the two biggest reasons that someone was right about the league's pre-eminent starting lineup.
Final Grade: A-
Ognjen Kuzmic, C
Ognjen Kuzmic has played almost exactly the same number of minutes as Hilton Armstrong this season—62—and the minutes have come in similarly irrelevant game situations.
Because of this comparison, Kuzmic's rebounding numbers—14 total boards—say more than the typical garbage-time stat line. What that 14 says is that the rookie is either less talented, less experienced, less motivated or a combination of the three when compared to Armstrong.
Combining that with his 3-of-11 shooting (Armstrong was 6-of-13) and 10 turnovers (Armstrong had four) puts the rookie at a disadvantage in the battle to make the active playoff roster.
It also means that his season has been either disappointing or expectedly poor, depending on your initial perspective.
Grade: D (Incomplete)
David Lee, PF
Lee's expectations depend on whom you ask. One would assume that a reigning All-Star, the NBA's double-double leader and the guy who was second in win shares on a 47-win team would be expected to again have a great season and lead his team back to the playoffs.
Some did expect this, but many thought that Lee was no longer necessary in Golden State. The emergence of Barnes, signing of Iguodala and return of Bogut made Lee extraneous, and the expectations of this crowd were actually quite minimal.
Lee followed up an 18.5 and 11.3 season with 18.2 and 9.1. Those two boards went to a healthy Bogut, and those 0.3 points went there as well, I guess.
Basically, he was the same, phenomenal player he was a year prior, and the Warriors would have certainly missed the playoffs without him. His mid-range shot eluded him all season, so he began to work in the post more often. This allowed him to get to the line more and wear down opposing bigs, which in turn made them easier to defend.
Lee also improved his defense (largely due to having better defenders around him) and was an emotional leader on a team that at times seemed to need one badly.
Nemanja Nedovic, PG
The Warriors traded into the first round of last year's draft to get Nemanja Nedovic, a Serbian point guard with great athletic ability and intriguing long-term potential. The idea was to stash him overseas, but the loss of Jarrett Jack changed the team's plans.
Nedovic was brought over to, along with Bazemore and Douglas, comprise a three-man bench unit that would hopefully give Curry the rest he needed while not throwing the game away in the process.
Even that turned out to be too much to ask. Douglas and Bazemore were eventually traded, but not before Nedovic was sent down to Santa Cruz. His dreadful shooting (20.5 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from deep), his inability to run an NBA offense (13 assists and 13 turnovers in 142 minutes) and his incompetent defense (team-worst defensive rating of 109) has given one nothing to be excited about.
He still might make the playoff roster, since, again, Bazemore and Douglas were both traded.
Jermaine O'Neal, C
O'Neal was brought in as an insurance policy, which is ironic, considering his extensive injury history. But the thought was that Festus Ezeli would return midseason, Speights would back up the power forward spot, and O'Neal would be the bottom-of-the-bench big, there to eat up fouls, get a couple buckets here and there, and provide veteran leadership off the court.
Ezeli never played, Speights failed to be a rotation-caliber player, and the rest of the frontcourt was rarely healthy all at the same time.
O'Neal was included in that oft-injured group—he played in only 44 games—but when he played, he got bigger minutes (20.1) than expected. More important than the minutes, though, it was his role that came as a surprise. He became the bench unit's most reliable offensive option, partially due to Barnes' ineptitude but also thanks to O'Neal's knack for scoring on the block and getting to the line.
His 5.4 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes was his highest total since 2006-07, which was his last All-Star season. His .504 field-goal percentage was the second-highest of his career, and his 9.9 boards per 36 minutes was his second-best mark since 2003-04.
With Bogut out, O'Neal will likely start in the postseason. If someone had predicted this in 2010, they'd be banned from sports writing.
Marreese Speights, PF
Speights was essentially brought into Oakland to replace Carl Landry. That may have been a tall order, but the Warriors at least expected good mid-range shooting, strong rebounding and defensive effort from Speights as the first big off the bench.
The whole "Landry replacement" thing died instantly, and the "first big off the bench" thing was not far behind. Speights got off to a dreadful start, and after five games, he found himself averaging single-digit minutes.
Jermaine O'Neal's wrist injury forced Speights to return to the rotation as the team's backup center, and the results were horrifying. Opponents would score inside at will against the Warriors' second unit, and Speights was a turnover machine on the other end.
After O'Neal's return, Speights settled back in to a deep bench role, where he finally found some comfort. He shot 50.1 percent from the field since that time, and his 7.5 points and 3.9 boards in only 12.5 minutes is exactly what you want from your lower bench.
2012-13 was supposed to be Thompson's breakout season. But after he only kind of broke out, and after Barnes emerged as this year's trendy breakout pick, Thompson was not expected to make massive strides in Year 3.
Sure, he was expected to hit over 200 threes, defend a bunch of high-powered wings and play a ton of minutes, but it was Curry, Iguodala and Bogut who were seen as the team's three best players.
Again, Thompson did not breakout. But what he has done over the last two seasons has been sneaky. While neither year has yielded statistical increases beyond the results of increased minutes, Thompson has subtly refined his game at a fairly constant rate.
Offensively, he went from a purely catch-and-shoot guy in Year 1 to a shot-creator in Year 2 to a post-up guy late in Year 2 to a 20-point scorer early in Year 3 (this season) to a driver and finisher late in Year 3.
Defensively, he went from a kid with long arms in Year 1 to a guy who tried valiantly to guard No. 1 options in Year 2 to a guy who could guard No. 1 options well in Year 3. So while some might look at Thompson's 2013-14 season and call his small statistical increases disappointing, that would ignore the fact that he has slowly but steadily turned himself into one of the top five shooting guards in the NBA.