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Warriors Season Preview: How will the power forward rotation shake out?

Not only can the Warriors play All-Stars Kevin Durant and Draymond Green at power forward, but they have tremendous depth as well.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors have an embarrassment of riches at the power forward spot. Not only do they start Draymond Green, who is possibly the best defender in the entire league, but Kevin Durant, one of the greatest scorers of all time, slides up to the position when the Warriors go small.

But that’s not all: the Warriors’ best young prospect, Jordan Bell, should see most of his time at the 4 as well. Explosive, skilled, and smart, Bell has the opportunity to become an integral part of the rotation after inconsistent playing time last year.

To round out the depth chart, Jonas Jerebko is a veteran stretch-four who is solid on both ends of the floor. The Warriors are set here.

Draymond Green

The cornerstone of the Warriors’ switching defense is Draymond Green, who can guard every position and orchestrate his teammates around the floor. Though he didn’t put in 100% of his effort last regular season, he was a monster in the playoffs, where the Warriors had the best defensive rating of any team.

Draymond is most useful as a center, where his quickness and spacing offensively often make opposing traditional centers unplayable. But going up against players that are half a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier takes a toll, and Coach Steve Kerr should rarely play him at center for the regular season. Similarly, Kerr should play him fewer minutes in the regular season, dropping his minutes from 32.7 minutes a game last season to maybe 31 minutes this season, largely at the power forward position.

Kevin Durant

Though he starts at small forward, Kevin Durant’s best position is probably at the 4, where his quickness, shooting ability, and interior defense shine. He’ll play some there in the regular season, but he’ll spend more time at the three because of the lack of wing depth and wear-and-tear concerns. As explained in the small forward rotation preview, expect Durant to play 33 minutes a game, slightly less than last season.

Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell’s true position is unclear: is he a power forward, where his lack of polished skills could make him an offensive liability, or a center, where his lack of size could make him a defensive liability?

Because of DeMarcus Cousin’s injury, many are suggesting Jordan Bell start at center for now. But Bell is functionally smaller than Draymond Green: he might be a few inches taller, but he has a shorter reach, is lighter, and not nearly as good a post defender as Green is. If Jordan Bell and Draymond Green were to both start, Green would draw the assignment of defending opposing centers, not Bell, and that’s not what Kerr wants in the regular season. I’d expect Kevon Looney, more of a true center and a Kerr favorite, to start with Cousins out.

I think Bell can be a tremendous power forward off the bench this season, and has enough potential as a playmaker, ballhandler, and a shooter to be a plus player offensively. He’ll have a much bigger role this season—I think he’ll average 21 minutes a game, mostly at the power forward spot.

Jonas Jerebko

I have a feeling Steve Kerr will love Jonas Jerebko. A smart veteran who can space the floor, he’ll fit within the Warriors’ offensive system well. He’s not quite a versatile defender, but he works hard enough on that end to be decent. He’s great value for a minimum deal.

Jerebko probably won’t have too big a role in the playoffs, but he should play in the regular season, simply because of his experience, toughness, and consistent three-point shot. Let’s pencil him in for 12 minutes a night, all at the power forward position (he really shouldn’t be playing any other position).

The Warriors shouldn’t have concerns about the power forward position heading into the season. With two all-stars, a young prospect, and a savvy veteran on the depth chart, the Warriors have the best depth at power forward in the league.

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