Is it too soon to do season preview-y pieces? /turns on a preseason football game with 4th-stringers battling it out in a 16-13 game in the fourth quarter. No. No, it is not.
Although Stephen Curry was the team's best player, it's not a stretch, and justifiable, to recognize Jarrett Jack as the heart and soul of the team. Though his leadership and off-court qualities eventually outweighed his on-court play, they were just as important, especially as an influence on such a young team experiencing so much success in a short period of time.
Because I'm the resident pessimist here, it's probably time to tackle the subject of Jack's loss at the backup point guard position. He played predominantly off the bench but consumed starter minutes. Though his supporters might point to his perceived breakout season; in actuality, he just played more minutes, while performing along career averages. The only difference was the massive, outlier-ish, uptick in three-point shooting. Other than that, it was just the fact that Jack shot a lot more from in the key, behind the arc and of course, everyone's favorite, from midrange. But that's intuitive to how effective and integral he was to Golden State's success. He essentially became the Mark Jackson's point man when he was on the court and even took most, if not all, and to the team's detriment at times, shots at the end of quarters, especially in the fourth. That bump in usage rate in turn jacked his numbers up, but make no mistake, his ability to mentor the younger players and keep them level-headed in a topsy-turvy, but mostly top season was invaluable.
But kudos to Bob Myers for recognizing the need for improvement and eschewing the zone of comfortability, risk going into the luxury tax, and perhaps sink back into the levels of mediocrity with a roster full of dead weight. Andre Iguodala should help replace the veteran leadership void left by Jack and most importantly, some of the ball-handling abilities. But if there are 144 total minutes at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward position, and Curry, Thompson and Iguodala are expected to play about 32-34 minutes, that still leaves 40+ minutes to the bench players. Sure, Harrison Barnes will come off the bench but he could assume some of David Lee's minutes as well, along with Marreese Speights. With all that accounted for, I'd say about 20-28 minutes are up for grabs between Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore and Nemanja Nedovic.
With Andrew Bogut, Lee, Speights, Draymond Green and even Jermaine O'Neal entrenched with at least 10 minutes a game, there isn't much left but that doesn't mean it isn't important. Though the postseason will solve the minor problem here, these aren't the San Antonio Spurs. Postseason isn't a certainty, not around these parts. Nope.
A disclaimer: I am not an actual scout. I have about as much experience being paid to watch players as Walter White has feeling remorse (got one in!). I also find that watching and studying point guards are easier than centers and wings, if only because we are honed into the ball at all times, and much more forgiving on the defensive end. It's tougher to gauge what a college-Derrick Favors was good at if his guards never got him the ball.
Ethan Strauss of ESPN wrote on this already and he hit it spot-on with what Douglas brings to the table in the new philosophical change. The Warriors can essentially field a lockdown defensive crew of Douglas, Bazemore, Green, Iguodala and Bogut. That five will probably score less than your five on Sunday mornings at the YMCA but in spurts, it could prove effective. Douglas can also shoot the rock, fulfilling the new title of the "3-and-D" player, shooting above 37 percent in four of his five seasons.
Douglas isn't a strong ballhandler or a decision-maker but Jackson will probably put him in to create spurts of defense and a sprinkling of shooting. He's probably best playing off someone like Curry but on this team, it wouldn't be advisable because he's too small to guard 2s. He'd function best along with Iguodala as he handles the ball and form a hell-inducing duo. Again, we're talking 10-18 minute samples here, the deficiencies are masked to an extent. In many ways, this is the perfect situation for specified role players.
It's hard to find video of Nedovic, much in the same way it was to find Marco Belinelli's. Like Belinelli, Nedovic is considered athletic for his size but the difference between the two is Nedovic's quickness and explosion off the dribble. Simply put, there's no other guard on the roster that presents his complement of athleticism and quickness. However, for a player that can potentially get to the basket, he only shot 43 percent from 2P% and got to the line a measly 41 times in 21 games. I watched his most of his game against Russia in a friendly before my crappy Wi-Fi finally crapped out, but it was evident that he understands the pick-and-roll and angles on offense. Already 22, it's not surprising to see an advanced level of basketball but it was surprising to see how fluid his shot actually looked. It just didn't seem that he'd shoot a sub-40 number from the field. Keep in mind, he's also just a year younger than Damian Lillard.
What he can bring to the Warriors is the opposite of Toney Douglas. Able to handle and get to the bucket, there's a little Jarrett Jack-esque creativity in his interior forays. Though he'll most certainly struggle on defense, as everyone does as a rookie, his slashing ability should help open up the floor when Jackson plays Thompson, Barnes and Bogut together. Perhaps the best fit for the team at the backup position, it's not likely he sees much gametime unless there's something I missed while posing as a young Billy Beane. Which is very likely, indeed.