As always, thank you for participating.
At the risk of being redundant, bear with me while I explain the exercise to any of our newer members or folks that may have missed the previous installments.
Imagine the NBA was having an expansion draft, and the Warriors were able to "protect" their entire team from being taken by a new expansion organization, except for one player. Whoever is left unprotected will be selected in this hypothetical and totally unfair expansion draft. After this player is chosen, his salary comes off the team's books instantly, as though he was never on the team at all.
I'm not sure the rules are clear. Some folks have commented that their reasons for making a decision included players that have already been eliminated. For the record, Babb, Clark, Rush, JT, and this chapter's selection should NOT be considered a reason to keep/cut a player. For our intentions, they have already been eliminated from consideration, and won't be considered available assets in future chapters of this series.
So, if you're thinking "I think Festus Ezeli is less valuable because we have Jason Thompson", while that may or may not be true in reality, it shouldn't affect the way you evaluate Festus' worth for this exercise. Thompson is already gone, so the only players that you should measure are the guys that are listed in the poll.
Then (and this is important) the Dubs' future plays out for some number of years, however long you care to imagine, only they no longer have the chosen player on the roster or on the cap sheet.
The question, then, is who would YOU leave unprotected?
That's what we're doing with this series of posts. One by one, we'll pare down the roster, eliminating the consensus "LEAST valuable" player after each round and starting the scenario over.
If I was surprised to be writing a review of Jason Thompson in part 5 of this series, I was floored by the results of the corresponding poll. I couldn't believe my eyes, and kept waiting, thinking the poll would correct itself after enough members chimed in.
Well, the poll is correct. After 1,466 equally counted opinions have been collected, the consensus #5 LVA for the Warriors is the one and only Leandro Barbosa! The Warriors 9th man in the regular season and 8th man in the playoffs is off the island, and our favorite franchise marches forward without his contributions to the locker room, the box score, or the cap sheet.
The Brazilian Blur was brought in by Bob Myers on a minimum contract that wasn't even guaranteed at the start of the season last year, but quickly proved his worth. He attacked the basket and drained threes at a rate of 17.1 points per 36, good for fourth on the team, and provided instant offense for a sometimes sluggish bench squad.
His constant probing of the opposition's defense, looking for any hole to exploit, was a welcome change of pace from the smooth outside shooting of Klay Thompson or low post production from Shaun Livingston. It seemed like he could get to the rack for a finger roll any time he wanted, even if he sometimes put his head down on the way. His 111 ORtg is evidence of his effect on the second unit's offense.
His efficiency was also very good. We all remember that pivotal Finals game 5, when Barbosa shot 4/5 and racked up 13 points in 17 minutes while the Warriors took a commanding 3-2 lead over the Cavs, but he had a lot of success throughout the regular season too. He scored at .558 TS%, his best mark since 2009, and his long range shooting bounced back to .384, his highest percentage since 2008.
Offense was always a strength for Leandrinho. His defense (104 DRtg, -1.82 DRPM) was probably a little below average, but that's been par for the course for the 6'3" shooting guard. The real question about the former sixth man of the year was his health. He hadn't managed 65 games in a season since 2008-09, which was only five years for most humans but more like 15 in NBA years. Barbosa answered the doubters and played 66 games for the Warriors, averaging nearly 15 minutes a night for the eventual champions. Add in the 21 playoff games he appeared in and the diminutive Brazilian hit the court for 86 contests last season.
Barbosa was also a source of veteran leadership for the Warriors last season. He's been in the league longer than any other player on the team, and had played deeper into the playoffs than his teammates too. His quiet confidence was a steadying presence for the team, and his ready smile would keep spirits from getting too low after losses. His contributions to the Coco videos was well received by his teammates, and his famous "We gonna be championship" became the motto of the season for his team and the fans.
Production? Check. Health? Check. Leadership? Check.
The Warriors showed that they valued Barbosa's contributions in the most practical way possible: they re-signed the mercurial scorer to a brand new 2.5 million dollar contract in the offseason, effectively doubling his pay and guaranteeing the entire contract.
Of course, while Barbosa and JT were the most recent cuts, I think it's worth mentioning that neither received a true majority of the votes. Thompson led the polls with just 34%, while Barbosa reached the chopping block with 36%. This leads me to believe that the community is really divided at this point in the exercise, which should bring some excellent discussions in the comments.
One thing I think worth noting is that we're doing this exercise with 16 players for a 15 man roster, so at least one of the players we are discussing will not be with the team when the season begins.
I've included the players' salary (rounded) to remind voters just how much each player costs against the cap this season and in the future. If players sign extensions while we are conducting this exercise, I will reflect that in future installments (it happened with Klay last season). Also, summer contract signee Jarell Eddie and the newly signed Juwan Slaten aren't included.
I used Hoopshype.com and Spotrac.com for the players' salary information, and used Basketball-reference.com, ESPN.com, and NBA.com for the statistics (except RAPM numbers, which are available on dropbox...).
Here's a review of the players that have been voted off, along with the percentage of votes they received when eliminated:
16) Chris Babb (41%)
15) Brandon Rush (68%)
14) Ian Clark (68%)
13) Jason Thompson (34%)
12) Leandro Barbosa (36%)
That brings us to our next selection! Remember to consider skill, age, contract, injuries, need, and anything else you find valid in your reasoning. Also keep in mind that your vote is for the LEAST valuable asset TO THE WARRIORS. Make sure to share how you voted and why in the comment thread following your vote, so that we can engage in a healthy debate. I certainly would love to read the reasoning behind the votes.