A Case for (and Against) Every Wing to Start At SF This Season

I'm pretty tired but this thought popped into my head as I was brushing my teeth and I had to jot it down quickly lest I forget it tonight. Without further ado, let's jump right in:

Brandon Rush:

  • For: He's probably the best perimeter defender on the team, so it gives us a decent defensive presence on the wings. He could be assigned to the better wing player, with Thompson relegated to the weaker (we're screwed against the Heat). It also allows us to slowly wean Barnes into the NBA style, like Thompson with Ellis last season. We also get great 3-point shooting and an injection of athleticism into the very skill-based first string. Lastly, in situations where we use our bench mob (second quarters, blowouts), it allows Barnes and Ezeli (maybe Draymond if Landry's taking a breather) to develop some kind of on-court tandem, a positive when talking about developing rookies.
  • Against: Obviously, getting starter-minutes while allow Rush to show what he's got. That's a negative. This is basically another contract year, and if someone else in the league likes what he sees, Rush could be gone next year. In terms of on-court minuses, this weakens the bench mob, but if we mix-and match, it actually strengthens the different wing combos, so that's not really a minus. I'm pulling at straws here, but Thompson, the SG is 6'7, and Rush, the SF (in this case at least) is 6'6. That's awkward. Moving along...
  • Percentage chance: I think Jackson will want to maximize Rush's minutes. But management is pretty savvy. Unless their hands are forced by injuries, there's only ~10% chance Rush will willingly be slotted into the opening lineup.

Richard Jefferson:

  • For: In my opinion he's the odds-on favorite to start at the beginning of the season. He gives a veteran presence to the lineup, and he made some smart basketball plays in tandem with Lee last year. He's like a slower, less-effective Wright, with his corner spot-up treys. I'm not sure if he or Thompson will be the better defender, but defense is not a strength of Jefferson's. In this case, he may start not because of his positives, but because of other candidates negatives...
  • Against: He's slowing down. He has the least upside. Defense is not a strength in a lineup lacking of it. I think he'll work better next to the explosive Rush who will be able to penetrate and kick out, so he naturally fits better in the secondary. Also, Lee operates in the high post, while Landry goes to work in the low post, so the floor spacing will be better in the backup unit.
  • Percentage chance: Like I said, others' negatives outweights Jeff's positives. If he gets in, it'll because of other wings not being up to the task. Above I said Rush is basically automatically out of the running with his contract. I'll give Jefferson 45% chance of starting.

Kent Bazemore:

  • For: He's a beast defensively, and he a semblance of a mid-range jumper. He can be plugged into the lineup and bring explosiveness and hawking outside defense to compliment Bogut. He doesn't have the outside shot Rush has, but he also doesn't have the touch-and-go contract situation. He could have a Dwayne-Wade-like shot blocking ability. He'd make a fire-and-ice like duo with Thompson.
  • Against: He's incredibly raw and starting a rookie doesn't exactly scream 'Playoff Ambitions!'. He has next to zero experience playing with any of the guys and chemistry would have to be developed as the season chugged along. I haven't watched him play that much I admit, but he's not the most filled out guy from the pictures I saw, and that's 3/5 for the lineup. We'd be smallish on the perimeter once again. Oh, and from the depth chart currently set up, he's a third stringer, likely getting scraps of minutes. If in this alternate reality all the sudden he's starting, he's taking minutes from somebody else.
  • Percentage: Next to none. If this were chance he'd start for the D-League team, it'd be much higher. He's not a bad player at all, it's just there's only so many minutes for the wings to play. 2%.

Harrison Barnes:

  • For: This has been more heavily covered than the rest of the candidates. This boils down to two schools of thought: Thompson versus Curry. Curry is trial by fire, letting the rookie start from the get-go. Now obviously, Curry won his position in camp, so in this situation I'm assuming Barnes did too. The advantages of Barnes starting is he gets experience. What he brings is decent defense, good midrange game, intelligent offense, and some Thompson-esque shot selection (thats a bad trait). This also previews what we're all hoping turns into our Big Three of Curry, Thompson and Barnes, so it'd be good fanservice to see them on the court at the same time.
  • Against: Again, when is the last time a team that started a rookie and a sophomore together was heavily favored to win anything (playing the Bobcats doesn't count) win anything? Also, there'd be two ball-stoppers in Thompson and Barnes. It was just summer league, but I was slightly dismayed to look at the box scores and see Barnes had a rough shooting night... but just kept going. I see the four players already penciled in and I look at Barnes and wonder what he brings to the table that we don't already have. If he develops into an above-average defender, he becomes starter-worthy. At the moment, though, imagine Barnes as a 30 year old (take away that potential), and ask yourself what it is that requires him to start over any other eligible wing.
  • Percentage: We didn't draft him 7th overall as a backup (O.J. Mayo is turning over in his bed somewhere in Dallas). 35%

Draymond Green:

  • For: Aha! You thought I'd forget about ol' Draymond, didn't you? So far, we've looked at several SG/SF combos and a few pure SFs. What if we went big with Draymond Green at SF? Well, for one thing we'd get an extremely savvy baller. He's an energy guy who's not really an energy guy at all, because he brings more than just hustle. He brings a high basketball IQ that would be deadly in coordination with Curry and Bogut. With Green at the 3, we'd have one of the bigger, smarter lineups. He doesn't stretch the floor well, but he just plays basketball pretty well.
  • Against: We'd be pretty slow and unathletic if a Thompson-Barnes pairing would be pretty weak on D, a Thompson-Green lineup would be Durant's bicepts-level weak (poor analogy, I know but it's 11 and I'm too tired to be clever). Then there's the fact that I hope Green turns into our version of Thaddeus Young. In my Warriors-fan level dreamer status, I see Ezeli and Green being long-term mainstays of our second unit, with Green turning into our 3/4 combo 6th man who comes in and does a little of everything, but isn't around long enough to have the natural weaknesses every 3/4 has be exploited. With Green in the starting lineup, that becomes impossible. Not to mention his minutes have to come from somewhere.
  • Percentage: I admit if I weren't already obligated by my article name that mentions 'every', I probably wouldn't include him. 3% chance, but he'd look pretty good comin' off that bench and the crowd cheers when they see him go over to the score table around midway through the first...

Okay I'm done and I'm looking at the clock and I'm absolutely appalled at how long this took me to right up. Well, I just cheated myself a good hour of sleep on this. Comment on your own ideas. If I come back tomorrow and realized I missed someone don't be too surprised, I'm yawning as I type this up.

Edit: I guess I'm obligated to mention Klay could start at the 3. Thanks for mentioning it in the comments.

Klay Thompson:

  • For: Supposedly he'd be at least average in quickness for a small forward. He has the size at 6'7" to play small forward, and, when talking about bigger athletic sfs like Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, he'd be able to stretch the floor to make sure they don't roam free on defense. Hypothetically, with Klay in we'd probably be starting Jerret Jack, so our starting lineup would be much more experienced than with Barnes. I'm not a supporter of voluntarily giving up size and strength, though, and I can't see how the positives outweigh the negatives of Klay starting.
  • Against: The negatives: he's weak for a 3; we'd give up size and rebounding, two things not exactly in surplus around here. Keep in mind here that in this hypothetical, Rush or Bazemore is not starting. Jack is, because if Bazemore or Rush started, I'd consider them a 3 before Thompson. With that out of the way, I can also say we'd be small and unathletic. Jack can't guard 3s, so Thompson would have to. I find Thompson being posted up by KD, LBJ, Melo, or Pierce significantly more cringe worthy than others. If this seems kind of halfassed, I'm sorry.
  • Percentage: 5% (and no, I'm not going to change the others' percentages to accomadate this 5%. Yes, there's 105% chance someone starts at 3 this year.) I guess if Jackson learns nothing and feels like Jack should run the point instead of Curry, pushing everyone down a slot, this could be what happens. In my opinion this would be pretty disastrous. Klay Thompson is not a 3. This is one of those times where I feel like the lines between being a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are actually pronounced. Generally, wing players are interchangeable. Klay Thompson should not be played at the 3. He is a shooting guard. That is all.

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!

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