The GSoM community is ranking the Warriors' players, but we're doing it "Survivor" style, eliminating one player per poll until we've decided who is the most valuable to the Warriors in 2017 and beyond.
We're referring to the players as "assets." Voters are reminded to consider age, salary, injuries, production, potential and overall value to the team (as either a player or trade piece) when making their selections. Basically, you're part of the front office, and it's time to cut the next player.
It's been a pretty good year for Ian Clark. First, he battled past the likes of Chris Babb, Jarrell Eddie and Ben Gordon to earn a spot on the Warriors roster. He finally had a chance, a one year deal, to show that he belonged in the league. Still, a Warriors guard rotation featuring Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa is tough to crack ... and those were the backups.
I mean, the team won 73 games. The standard was high. The pressure of the season was enormous. The pressure a player feels when trying to stay in the league is probably pretty significant too. And the limited minutes likely only intensified the pressure for Clark. So he did what all of us hope to do under pressure: he rose to the occasion and produced the best season of his career.
Sweat pours from every brow in the NBA. Every roster is stocked with the-hardest-working-guys-I've-ever-seen-and-I'm-not-just-saying-that players -- in the preseason. But players still need skill, and then they need a chance. Clark already had a silky jumper, and now he had the opportunity to clean up after the league MVP and his henchmen.
Unsinkable, Clark worked his way into the rotations, posting career highs in just about every major statistical category, especially his efficiency. He became the forgotten member of the rotation, which could be a dubious distinction if it weren't for the records being set all around him. Instead, it's a compliment to the way Clark seamlessly transitioned from the deep bench to playing major minutes. Bob Myers noticed and rewarded Clark with a guaranteed contract in July. That sweet shooting stroke, experience in the system and improved defense were going to be needed. To the fans, it might seem as if Ian Clark has finally arrived.
I say the best is yet to come.
First, the contract that Clark just signed is different than your average NBA minimum contract. This contract wasn't the guaranteed contract that guys get because of what they did in college. This isn't a contract based on potential. This is the kind of contract a player earns in the hardest of ways. Multiple D-League stints with different organizations, non-guaranteed contracts with cellar teams, competing in every summer league available and then finally breaking through on a team with the greatest perimeter talent the game has ever seen. This contract means he belongs.
There are some other contracts that lead me to believe this will be Clark's best season, namely Barbosa's new deal with Phoenix and Clark's opportunity to finally sign a multi-year deal next summer. When Myers let Barbosa walk, it was a clear signal that the team felt Clark could take over many, if not all, of the Blur's 16.8 minutes a night. That would nearly double Clark's previous contributions, providing him with a major opportunity to showcase his talent on what promises to be a highly televised season. People will know who Ian Clark is after this year.
His role is finally defined. He isn't asked to be a point guard on offense, like he was Denver and Utah. Instead, he's another one of Golden State's stable of positionless ball handlers. He's a "3 and D" point guard -- a shooting guard on offense that defends the point because of his size. The Warriors don't need him to be a play-maker as much as a trap breaker and shot-taker off the bench.
There's a swagger that comes with knowing you're the right guy for the job. As Warriors fans, we recognize this. We see what a Klay Thompson heat check looks like. It's a 30 foot fade-away turnaround with 21 seconds left on the shot clock. That's confidence. We might sometimes yell at our televisions when Thompson takes that shot, but there's always optimism that the shot will drop. It's the opposite of those shots Harrison Barnes couldn't sink in the Finals -- each opportunity more open, each miss clanging more loudly until futility was inevitable. That was also confidence, or lack thereof. When it comes to shooting the basketball, confidence and success go hand in hand.
Not only that, but this is the first time that Clark is familiar with his surroundings. No apartment hunting in Idaho or Bakersfield this year. No wondering what the new coach is like, or who he might make friends with on the roster. For the first summer since graduating from Belmont, Ian Clark didn't have to move. He knows his team, his system, his coaches and his city.
Clark will enter this season poised to succeed. He has a comfortable role on a familiar team, and both the confidence and skill to excel in that position. Coupled with the security of a guaranteed contract and the hunger for a bigger one next year, Ian Clark is ready to show the world that he belongs.
On to the next selection!
It's election season and time for your voice to be heard! If you had to lose one of the remaining players forever, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and tell us why in the comments.