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Warriors’ mid-season report card: The bench players

Have the Golden State bench players met expectations so far this season? To what degree have they fulfilled their designated roles? Answers to these questions, and more, in Part II of a two-part mid-season report card series.

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

These analyses are as unbiased as I can make them but, as Plato argued, it is difficult to distinguish between real truth and subjective knowledge. I’ll do the best I can to use evidence where possible, but please try not to get too mad at me when I slap an arbitrary letter grade on players.

Also, there will be no “Incomplete” or “TBD” grades — we are evaluating how these guys have performed on the court to present. How have they performed against expectations? To what degree have they fulfilled their designated roles? Answer: Meh?

If an injury or emergence of a new player bumps them down the depth chart, then that should rightly be reflected in the grade for both players.

You can find Part I of this series here, for discussion of Golden State’s starters. For this installment, we will be looking at the bench.

Andre Iguodala — D

5.7 PTS / 3.8 RBS / 3.4 AST

This was a tough one.

While Iguodala isn’t really on this team for scoring, the knock on him right now is that everything is down across the board. Less scoring, lower assist and rebound numbers and a career-low in shooting percentages.

Speaking of shooting, let’s look closer to try and assess exactly how bad it has been so far this season. Iguodala’s true shooting percentage (TS%) is the worst of his career: .494. This number includes all field-goal attempts, so it captures the gross three-point percentage (22% from deep) and free-throw numbers (66%). Both of those are well below his career averages, and are a decrease from last season — when he had a TS% of .624, and shot 36% from deep and 70.6% from the line.

He logs heavy minutes, too, barely trailing Steph Curry in total minutes played (though injuries have something to do with that). Logging 400-more minutes than other key reserve Shaun Livingston, these poor shooting numbers actually have an impact.

Still, he’s not a total failure because he is still extremely useful as a secondary ball handler and defensive anchor. The team could really use a better version of Iguodala by the time the postseason rolls around.

Patrick McCaw — F

4.1 PTS / 1.5 RBS / 1.4 AST

This is my harshest grade, by far, but not without merit.

I’m not going to pile on the guy but will, instead, refer you to the ex-President of the McCaw Fan Club, Nate Parham, discussing McCaw’s play in Summer League earlier this season:

While his scoring primarily came from an array of three-point shots, his ability to run the offense, push the ball in transition, hit threes in catch-and-shoot situations and create off the dribble was extremely impressive. There were times during the regular season when he looked almost passive on offensive — and justifiably so, given his teammates. So this was certainly a new McCaw we were seeing.

Right now, we are seeing the opposite of all of that.

McCaw is shooing 25% from three-point range, he has been timid with the ball and he has basically flat-lined his improvement arc. Not only has he not been as good as last season, in light of the expectations that he would be improving this year, it seems as if he’s going in the wrong direction entirely.

Still, there is plenty of season left to work through this but, at this point, it’s been nothing but bad news for McCaw fans.

Shaun Livingston — C

5.4 PTS / 1.7 RBS / 1.9 AST

Livingston is doing ... alright, I guess?

Here is another bench player that we shouldn’t judge off of his scoring. Livingston’s role is to come in as the backup point guard and hold down the fort for 15 minutes or so each night and just ... not screw anything up. With that perspective, he’s been good enough to pass this review. If you look at his rate statistics, his assists and points scored per 36 minutes are both up over last year.

That said, he hasn’t been great. His shooting percentages have dropped a bit, and while he is still reliable in the high post, there just aren’t that many facets to his offensive game. When Curry went down for an extended period with an ankle injury, it exposed the dire need this team has for a quicker primary ball handler who is capable of keeping up offensively and defensively — something that Livingston is simply not.

He’s not here to be flashy; he’s here to be stable and reliable. He is those things, but it’s getting harder and harder to defend Livingston as the one and only backup point guard these days. That’s bad for a guy the team just signed to a fairly lucrative multi-year contract.

Nick Young — B+

6.6 PTS / 1.3 RBS / 0.4 AST

Swaggy P.

I didn’t like the nickname and I didn’t really see the rationale for using the entire MLE on signing him. But I have to admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

If you drew up a list of needs/wants for the Warriors right now, bench shooting would probably be at the top of the list. Young may not always feel like it, but he is in fact the bench shooter that so many of us have been clamoring to see: 16.4 points per 36 minutes at a reasonably efficient .584 TS%? I’ll take it!

No seriously, find me a more desirable bench shooter than Nick Young. The guy’s done everything the team has asked of him.

Omri Casspi — B

6.8 PTS / 4.4 RBS / 1.2 AST

My biggest knock on Casspi is that, for a bench shooter, the team needs him to shoot more. He is a more efficient scorer than Young and was starting to look like the preferred Kevin Durant backup before he got hurt.

He did a pretty good while filling in for Durant — Casspi has racked up a couple of double-doubles on the year and he has earned the coaching staff’s trust enough to get plugged in for six starts. He is a solid bench player who is admiringly adequate as a starter.

The downside is that he’s already missed 10 games (and counting) and may be losing ground to guys like Kevon Looney and Nick Young. When he comes back, I wouldn’t mind him specifically looking for more threes.

David West - A-

7.0 PTS / 3.4 RBS / 1.8 AST / 1.1 BLK

David West has been a revelation this season. While he was solid last year, an increase in shooting efficiency and emergent defensive dominance have propelled West up the depth chart. If you’re looking for an explanation of where JaVale McGee’s minutes have gone, you can start here. West is playing so well that he’s literally forcing the coaching staff to give him more minutes.

Jordan Bell — A-

5.0 PTS / 3.9 RBS / 1.8 AST / 1.1 BLK

The rookie known as “Cash Considerations” has probably been the biggest surprise for the Warriors this season. Scooped up from a purchased second-round pick, Bell played his way into Coach Kerr’s rotation (and fans’ hearts) almost immediately. A mini-Draymond, Bell has excellent instincts on the court, both offensively and defensively. He’s shot past JaVale McGee on the depth chart and made Damian Jones an afterthought.

That said, he’s still a rookie, and 4.7 fouls per 36 minutes shows just how eager he is to contribute right away. But he’s still working on developing patience on defense.

Kevon Looney — B

3 PTS / 2.7 RBS / 0.5 AST / 0.7 BLK

I’m not entirely sure what to make of Kevon Looney, probably the team’s streakiest and most enigmatic bench player. He can go from looking completely too slow and weak to play in the NBA, to dominant, from one game to the next. Still, he’s currently trending towards being more and more useful; he is yet another guy pushing JaVale McGee down the depth chart by being able to defend from the post all the way out to the perimeter.

The downside here is that I’m still not sure if this guy belongs in the NBA or not. Much like another long-armed defensive specialist/rebounder Ekpe Udoh, it’s still very much up in the air whether or not this guy’s status as a “tween” player will work to his advantage (like Draymond Green) or push him further into the periphery of the league (like Jeff Green).

JaVale McGee — D

3.3 PTS / 1.8 RBS / 0.5 AST / 0.7 BLK

The main problem with McGee right now is that there isn’t one thing that he does significantly better than any of the team’s other option. Bell has become the vertical spacing threat on alley-oops (while being better able to negotiate perimeter defense) and West is a better overall defender and can shoot significantly better while serving as the top-of-the-key fulcrum.

It’s telling that I just spent most of the space on his review talking about other players. Bottom line is that McGee has been fine, but “fine” hasn’t been enough for him to maintain his position on the depth chart.

Quinn Cook / Damian Jones — C-

Neither player has seen much time in the NBA, which isn’t necessarily an indictment on their play. But given that there just isn’t much to analyze, these guys are getting lumped into our bucket of developing players that aren’t quite ready for the big leagues.

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