August — NBA's quietest month.
We have the joy this year of being able to see some bonus basketball with the 2016 Rio Olympics coming up. But in the meantime, free agency has been settled, and besides a few random vet deals and contracts to finalize for restricted and unrestricted free agents (see: Dion Waiters), the offseason is over. Players should be privately working out building up to training camps at the end of September.
This gives us a good chance to take a look at where Golden State currently stands as the roster reaches the current limits. Despite the Logo saying the Warriors are still going to add a player, it looks as if the signing of Andy Varejao might have been the end of the free agent frenzy.
Let's take a look at the roster as it stands, and even start to make some predictions on the rotations:
Note: This breakdown comes before Training Camp invites. As anything can happen, we will mention this is way too early to guess what the final roster will look like, but it's always fun to speculate, right?
The 15 Man Roster
1. Stephen Curry
2. Klay Thompson
3. Draymond Green
4. Kevin Durant (that is still fun to type)
The New Strength in Numbers
6. David West (Welcome to the new bench mob!)
7. Andre Iguodala
8. Shaun Livingston
9. Ian Clark
10. James Michael McAdoo (the project continues)
11. Anderson Varejao
12. Damian Jones
13. Patrick McCaw
14. Kevon Looney
The bench depth the Warriors lost
Brandon Rush's up & down career with the Warriors
We look back on the roller coaster career of Brandon Rush who regained his confidence and improved dramatically in the 2015-16 season after an abysmal two year stretch.
The bench depth the Warriors lost
Initial Thoughts: This is a solid, if not spectacular roster that has definitely been affected by the loss on the back end by free agency with a limited cap. Bench staples like Leandro Barbosa and Brandon Rush are sorely missed, and the current roster lacks in size with the loss of Ezeli and Bogut (we look at this in a minute).
We also keep the 15th roster spot open for the candidates to step up during training camp. Will the Warriors bring in another veteran to camp? Promote another rookie?
With the above list, lets break down by position so we can start to predict the rotation, the holes, and where the Warriors currently have the most need:
Starter: NBA MVP Steph Curry
Yea, I think he has this covered
Backup: Shaun Livingston
The Warriors mixed in Ian Clark in this spot last season (8.8 mpg) along with Barbosa (15.9 mpg). The Warriors don't use the traditional ball handler as Iggy plays some point forward when Steph is out, but the bottom line is being able to keep SDot on the roster will be huge for depth. As the team found in the playoffs, Livingston should be kept around 20 mpg, but that should be plenty with all the new ball handling options
Dark Horse: Patrick McCaw
The Rookie played fantastic in Las Vegas Summer League, and got to show off running the team a bit. I believe McCaw sees some of Barbosa's minutes with the 2nd and 3rd team, and should be capable of keeping the team afloat between runs of the starters. He has already shown maturity beyond his years, and Kerr sees him as making the right decisions. Watch those Summer League games - he should have had three or four more assists per game with his great passing.
Starter: NBA All-Star Klay Thompson
Killa Klay is back to form the rest of the Splash Brothers
Backup: Ian Clark? Iguodala?
Primary backup at the 2 position should be interesting to see as the season plays out. The Warriors didn't have a traditional back up 2 last season, and seemed to do just fine. Bringing in Livingston with Curry helped with this, shifting Curry off the ball to finish the backcourt. I can see McCaw getting some of these minutes too, coming in with Curry to be the defensive stopper with Steph as long as McCaw can keep hitting his threes (expecting McCaw to hit 35% from beyond the line, which would put him in line with Iggy and Clark).
Dark Horse: Kevin Durant?
They could run a big lineup with Durant and Curry in the backcourt. They could do whatever they want. Basically the 2 spot should be just fine
Starter: Kevin Freakin Durant
Yep, that's not a typo. He also played 35.8 mpg last year, which is about five more than Harrison Barnes played. I expect KD's minutes to come down a little bit (part of his sales pitch to come), but his impact to be even greater.
Backup: Andre Iguodala
A few choices come here for the backup 3 spot. Iggy is the primary option, but Draymond can move over and take the backup 3 spot when Durant sits. So can Klay if they want to show off a three-guard backcourt. They will miss Brandon Rush as an option, but honestly the guy only played 15 minutes per game, mostly coming in garbage time. It will be McAdoo's time to put up or shut up at the forward spot.
Dark Horse: Kevon Looney
Is this where Looney's future is destined for? He is predicted to be everywhere from a small ball center to a ball handling forward. I liked him with the SC Warriors last year, and he can hit the outside shot. Is he basically a better James Michael McAdoo with range? He should get plenty of garbage minutes to refine his game.
Starter: All-Star (and repeat offender) Draymond Green
The Swiss Army Knife will continue to patrol the paint and look for triple doubles.
Backup: David West
One of my favorite non-Warriors finally makes it to the Bay. West played 18 mpg last year for the Spurs, averaging 7.1 ppg on 54% shooting. That is exactly what we need from your backup 4, a guy who can score and knows how to play the game. The team will miss the personality of Mo Buckets, but West is what Mo wishes he could be: a guy who doesn't make a lot of mistakes, plays within his range, and will be deadly on the pick and pop. Will he hit the occasional Mo three? West attempted 7 threes last year, opposed to Mo's 62. I can live without the threes if you see my point.
Dark Horse: Kevon Looney? James Michael McAdoo?
This should be an interesting spot as the season goes along. Green will need more rest than he had last year, and the Warriors are going to need some extra athletic bodies next to Zaza in the middle. There are rumors that KD could slide into the backup 4 spot, but I would save that for the playoffs. West should handle most of the load, but his minutes will be limited in general because of his age. Looney could pick up big minutes here as an active body as long as he learns to play defense against bigger bodies. I worry about Looney on the defensive side...
Starter: The new guy, Zaza Pachulia
Solid and consistent player picked up for basically nothing in the offseason. Is looking to perform at a high level to cash in as most of those centers are around the league. I picture him a stop gap while the first-rounder develops. In the meantime, Zaza should rebound the hell out of the ball without playing much defense. Basically an uglier David Lee who can't score as much.
Back Up: Draymond Green? Anderson Varejao?
The Center position has been locked in for the Warriors for a few years now, but was the first to go with the addition of Kevin Durant's salary. Let's be honest though: the Warriors run one of the best small-ball games in the league and for the most part the center position has been relatively optional. But do note the two players lost in Bogut and Ezeli were two of the best defensive centers in the league.
Sure, Draymond can step in, but the team will need Zaza to put up big minutes, and hope his durability (76 games in 2016) holds up. That is sure better than Bogut's 70 games in 2016, but after Zaza the depth gets really small really quick.
Warriors' Anderson Varejao due to back pain traveled from Brazil to the United States yesterday in order to have it tested and evaluated.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) July 25, 2016
Dark Horse: The rookie Damian Jones
I think this kid will play a lot of minutes once he is healthy. He is right out of the Ezeli mold (second in his school history in blocks behind, you guessed it, Festus himself). But he has even better hands around the rim on the pick and roll. He will need to learn the NBA game quickly, as we all wish he would have gotten a chance to do during Summer League minutes. There is a ton of potential for this kid to play quickly and early, barring some obvious error. The Warriors will also look for many small ball solutions to go along with a possible 15th roster spot for another backup center (Kendrick Perkins?)
On a team with four of the top 12 players in the league, it's hard to worry about roster balance. But good teams are also a function of their depth, and the Warriors turned around five of their 15 roster spots in the offseason. You would hope for more front court depth, but with three capable rookies looking to get playing time this season the possibilities are there that the team already has their solution in-house. There is always the chance that Golden State could sign another vet (#fullsquad David Lee anyone?) to camp, or that a rookie or random could play himself into 15th spot. These are all good questions to have, and none of them probably keep Steve Kerr or Bob Meyers up at night. When does the season start again??!!