Golden State Warriors NBA Preseason Player Power Rankings

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 10, 2012

Golden State Warriors NBA Preseason Player Power Rankings

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    Typically, power ranking NBA players against their own teammates is as easy as looking at the depth chart. But sometimes, things aren't so simple.

    The Golden State Warriors are one of the rare NBA teams whose 15-man roster is practically set in stone—and has been since before training camp opened. But with so many new players in the mix, roles and minutes are largely up for grabs.

    With a pair of impact rookies already proving themselves and a few veterans showing signs of slippage, the player hierarchy within the Dubs roster remains fluid. Add in the persistent injury concerns of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, and the picture gets even hazier.

    Nonetheless, it's still a fairly simple task to comparatively value each player on Golden State's roster. For clarity's sake, keep in mind that these rankings are based on the individual player's worth to the team. In some cases, that means bench players are more valuable than starters, while in others, the potential value of youth will take a backseat to the present importance of veteran experience.

    As the season begins, these rankings could certainly change. And as the months roll on, potential trades, inevitable injuries and lineup constructions may result in a few surprises.

    But for now, here are the Golden State Warriors' preseason player power rankings.

15. Andris Biedrins

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    Realistically, the Golden State Warriors won’t break camp with Andris Biedrins as the last man on the Warriors depth chart. But they should.

    Biedrins, already infamous in Golden State for his total vanishing act over the last three years, didn’t do himself any favors by being the lone Warrior not to report to Oakland for September workouts. But even though he’s now physically present with the team, Biedrins’ “production” has remained MIA.

    So far, the Dubs’ invisible man has logged an average of eight minutes per game in the preseason. During his brief stints on the floor, Biedrins has committed five fouls, gotten two steals and blocked one shot. He hasn’t scored a single point, and he has yet to pull down a rebound.

    Watching him, it’s clear that he still dreads touching the basketball—for fear of being fouled—and simply hides on offense. Biedrins is a complete and utter nonfactor for the Warriors on offense, and he does little besides commit fouls on defense.

    As long as Biedrins is a Warrior, he’ll reside at the bottom of any Dubs power ranking.

14. Jeremy Tyler

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    Jeremy Tyler might be feeling a little false hope, as he’s logged more preseason minutes and been elevated above Biedrins on the practice depth chart. But it’s still more likely than not that Tyler spends significant time in the D-League again this year.

    Tyler didn’t do anything in the Las Vegas Summer League to show he was ready for more time in the big show, and he’s been logging under 10 minutes per game in the preseason.

    Aside from coach Mark Jackson using Tyler to send a message to Biedrins, the Dubs’ young big man doesn’t really have a role. Tyler has great size and athleticism, but until he actually does something with his natural talents, he'll be putting up big meaningless numbers for the Warriors' new Santa Cruz D-League squad.

13. Draymond Green

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    Draymond Green has been held out of virtually all preseason activities, including both games thus far. Hampered by a balky knee, Green hasn’t had much of a chance to validate his solid summer performance yet.

    With the Warriors already loaded in the frontcourt, Green was going to be fighting an uphill battle to avoid heading to Santa Cruz to join the Warriors’ D-League affiliate. Having missed so much of the preseason, he’s almost certainly headed that way now.

    Green’s versatility and high basketball I.Q. make him a valuable piece for the future. When healthy, Green projects to be a very useful "stretch four" and an excellent rebounder. But he’ll need a little more seasoning before he’s ready to contribute meaningful minutes in the NBA.

12. Kent Bazemore

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    Listed behind every Warriors guard besides Charles Jenkins on the depth chart, Bazemore has played sparingly during the preseason. Despite that, he may be the Warriors’ most accomplished perimeter defender, which means he’ll likely avoid a D-League assignment.

    Bazemore has the raw tools to become a legitimate stopper on the wing, which is always nice to have.

    One other interesting tidbit to note: Mark Jackson went with Bazemore at the point in part of his seven-minute stint against the L.A. Lakers on October 7. Without reading too much into that, it seems like Jackson is embracing some outside-the-box thinking. Stay tuned to see if the interesting move turns out to be anything more than a preseason experiment.

    For now, Bazemore figures to see spot duty off the bench and a few garbage-time minutes late in games.

11. Charles Jenkins

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    Charles Jenkins is currently slotted into the No. 3 point guard position. The Warriors’ second-year man played far more minutes last season than his skill—or NBA readiness—warranted, but he’ll be used much more appropriately this time around.

    Jenkins put up decent numbers for the tanking Warriors at the end of the 2011-12 campaign and has continued to show an excellent mid-range jumper so far during the preseason.

    The issue with Jenkins is that he’s not really a point guard. He struggles to run the pick-and-roll effectively and often displays poor ball security when quicker guards apply full-court pressure.

    As a third-string option behind Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack, Jenkins will have a chance to work on his weaknesses as a distributor while offering solid scoring in limited minutes.

10. Richard Jefferson

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    For a while, Richard Jefferson was in the discussion—along with Brandon Rush and Harrison Barnes—to start at small forward.

    Consider that discussion concluded.

    Jefferson has looked older than his 32 years during camp and simply isn’t playing at the level of his younger wing competitors. He’s still a smart veteran who can hit a corner three and defend small forwards, but his waning athleticism and poor off-the-dribble game have caused him to slip behind both Rush and Barnes in a quest for playing time.

    On the hook for two more years at big money, Jefferson’s only significant value to the Warriors will be as a veteran mentor to the younger players. On the court, he’ll be an end-of-the-rotation guy this season.

9. Jarrett Jack

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    The fact that a player as good as Jarrett Jack comes in at No. 9 in these rankings is a true testament to the Warriors’ improved depth. Jack is among the league’s best backup point guards and even proved last year that he’s still got the chops to start.

    As Steph Curry’s primary substitute, Jack figures to get plenty of minutes this season. A capable scorer with a variety of mid-range pull-ups and floaters, Jack can also defend both guard positions—though he’s much better against shooting guards.

    If Jack plays somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 minutes per game this year, the Warriors will be better for it. If he plays more than that, it’ll mean the dreaded Curry ankle injury relapse, or "Anklegeddon," has happened.

    And nobody will be better for that.

8. Carl Landry

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    The Warriors’ biggest offseason signing, Carl Landry, figures to be the first big off the bench this year.

    Landry can score on anyone in the post, and he’s yet another proven vet from whom the Warriors only need supporting minutes.

    In a somewhat disturbing trend, Mark Jackson has been playing Landry alongside David Lee, who’s been reprising his role as an undersized center a little too often so far in the preseason.

    Here’s hoping Jackson is using that pairing because the Warriors are without Andrew Bogut, and not because it’ll be something Jackson tries when the games actually count.

    Everyone saw enough of David Lee at center last season. That movie doesn’t need a sequel.

7. Brandon Rush

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    Yes, Brandon Rush has started both of the Warriors’ preseason contests so far. And yes, he’s a proven two-way player who shot the lights out last season.

    But as solid as Rush has been during camp and the preseason, he’s not as important as a certain rookie who has yet to appear in these rankings. Stay tuned.

    That said, it makes sense for Rush to start at the small forward spot. He’s a known commodity that meshes fairly well with the other starters. He’s a low volume, high-efficiency scorer whose length and bounce make him an above-average defender as well.

    Rush should have no trouble transitioning from his sixth-man role of a year ago. He’ll start, but it’ll be very interesting to see if he’s the guy Mark Jackson uses at the 3 to finish games.

6. Festus Ezeli

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    Never mind that he’s a rookie; Festus Ezeli is Mark Jackson’s man at backup center.

    The Dubs knew Ezeli already had NBA size and strength when they drafted him at No. 30 out of Vanderbilt. But they probably didn’t realize he would arrive in camp an NBA-ready defender and rebounder.

    If Ezeli’s offense eventually catches up to his defense, the Warriors will have a center coming off the bench who could start for most teams. He’s highly intelligent and a hard worker, so he’s got a great shot to improve in the coming years.

    For now, Ezeli will back up Andrew Bogut, which means he’s all but guaranteed a ton of minutes this season. If Bogut isn’t ready to start the year (a distinct possibility) or misses a few contests down the road, Ezeli becomes even more important for the Warriors.

    Good thing he’s looking like such a stud so far.

5. Harrison Barnes

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    Here’s where things get exciting.

    Harrison Barnes probably won’t start for the Warriors initially, but he’s shown enough during the preseason to make many think he’ll be a starter in the league for the next decade or so.

    As is often the case with players coming from major college programs, Barnes didn’t have a chance to showcase his complete game at North Carolina. With John Henson and Tyler Zeller down low, Barnes operated mainly as a perimeter shooter. He did that well enough to be picked seventh by the Warriors in last June’s draft, but it turns out that Barnes’ game had another facet that was hidden.

    He is an absolute beast in the mid and low post. Who knew?

    In just two preseason games, Barnes has operated with devastating effectiveness in the post. His size and skill, combined with a lightning-quick first step to his right, has allowed him to torch defenders. He’s gotten to the rim at will, often finishing spectacularly through contact.

    Everybody knew Barnes could shoot and defend at the NBA level, but nobody expected this. With the revelation of a sick post game, Barnes’ ceiling has been raised from “10-year starter” to “All-Star.”

4. David Lee

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    David Lee’s been his reliably productive self for two years as a Warrior, and nothing has changed during the preseason.

    With the opportunity to play more frequently at his rightful power forward position, Lee figures to continue putting up excellent scoring and rebounding numbers, while the presence of Andrew Bogut can only improve his defensive efficiency.

    Lee has averaged 19 points and 10.5 rebounds during the preseason while shooting 65 percent from the field. Paired with Bogut, he’ll also get to be a part of one of the best passing frontcourts in the NBA this year.

    He’s about as steady as they come.

3. Klay Thompson

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    Who’s ready for a breakout season? Klay Thompson, sole owner of the starting job at shooting guard, is primed to explode.

    Thompson is going to approach the 20-points-per-game barrier this year, and if the Warriors play at a fast enough pace, he’ll crack it. Now in his second year, Thompson is buoyed by a selection to the USA Select team and a dominant—albeit brief—performance in Las Vegas.

    Alongside Stephen Curry, Thompson will give the Warriors the best shooting backcourt in the NBA—by a mile.

    Thompson focused on improving his quickness this offseason, hoping to complement his outside shot with a few off-the-dribble counter moves to use against defenders who must sprint to close out on his outside shot. If he adds a few of those, he'll be virtually unstoppable.

2. Stephen Curry

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    Though he’s logged just 12 minutes during the Warriors’ 2012-13 preseason, optimism about Stephen Curry’s prospects this year is rampant.

    Now six months removed from ankle surgery, Curry has been playing restriction-free basketball for over a month. Aside from some understandable fatigue, Curry looked excellent against the Utah Jazz in the Warriors’ second preseason contest. With Curry on the floor to start the game, the offense hummed, yielding quality shot after quality shot.

    When Curry headed to the bench, the Warriors’ offensive gears ground noticeably.

    Going forward, Curry will be the Warriors' primary ball-handler and—most likely—their leading scorer.

    It’s clear that Curry is the key to the Dubs’ offensive attack this year, which is why he’s Golden State’s second-most critical piece.

1. Andrew Bogut

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    Andrew Bogut is, without question, the Warriors’ lynchpin. Were you expecting someone else?

    There's just no getting around it: If the Warriors hope to be a playoff squad this season, Bogut absolutely must play at least 60 games.

    He’ll anchor the defense, own the boards and toughen up every player around him—possibly by osmosis and possibly by a more tactile process. As long as Bogut is ready to play in the season opener on October 31, everybody in Golden State will be happy.

    Bogut has repeatedly said he’d like to see action in a couple of the Warriors’ preseason games, but that his real goal is to be ready when the contests count.

    If he suffers a setback in his recovery, it’ll be almost impossible for the Warriors to eclipse 40 wins. Not even Curry has that kind of potential impact on the fate of the team.

    As long as he’s a Warrior, Bogut’s going to be No. 1 in any meaningful ranking system.