Recently, LeBron James remarked on the Warriors' incredible heath over the past year plus, saying, "They've been healthy. They've been the most healthy team I've ever seen in NBA history [...]." Now of course, there have been the odd concussion related DNP's for Andrew Bogut, a few random things here or there, but for the most part the Warriors have run through the gauntlet with extreme ease.
You could chalk it up to luck. You could say that they are successfully deploying advanced metrics to predict injury, resting players when they are over-taxed or nearing a breaking point. You could point at a number of different options. Injuries happen. They are an unfortunate reality of playing a sport that requires the highest level of athleticism, smarts, and stamina.
And now, with the Warrior's "Small Ball Death Lineup," (or whatever other strangely named moniker you prefer) getting so much national attention, we have a man down.
Harrison Barnes is playing for his BIG contract. That one. The contract that'll set him up for life. The contract that will kickstart his eventual presidential/senatorial/world-leader-domination campaign.
Look at that. Career highs in PER, usage rate, and true shooting percentage.
By all accounts, advanced and otherwise (he's also averaging career highs in points, assists, and FG%), Harrison is having himself a nice year.
He is a member of the most feared lineup in the world, this small ball nightmare that has tortured the league to the tune of having the highest Net Rating we've ever seen. Seriously, in 64 minutes, they have a 154.7 Offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions), an 84.8 Defensive rating (points scored against per 100 possessions), for an eye-popping insane Net rating of 69.9.
That's OG Dream Team vs. The World level dominance.
For comparison's sake: so far this season, the Warriors as a team are averaging an ORtg of 115.6 and a DRtg of 99.7.
This small ball lineup is obviously their most deadly. Until some other team figures out a way to stop it, Luke Walton will continue to strategically deploy the five man squad.
Except, now, Barnes is hurt.
Can Brandon Rush keep up his play? Rush's impact on the game over the next few weeks will go a long way towards determining Barnes' eventual worth to the team, long term, as well as dictating how much money Barnes will be able to command (commandeer?) during off-season negotiations.
For if he is replaceable, if a three-and-D type guy can step in and fill his roll without too much loss? Well then, the team might feel a little better -- feel a little more at ease -- seeing Barnes accept some crazy high offer from, say, the Hornets or whoever, and letting him walk.
Again, it's only been one game. If Brandon Rush hadn't gone off for 14 points in the third quarter last night, we'd probably all be singing a different tune. Bemoaning the loss of one of our great warriors, the loss of a member of the prized death squad.
As it is, we'll have to wait and see how these next few weeks play out.