Ok, let’s get this out of the way up front. Jarrett Jack isn’t going to magically save the Golden State Warriors bench. Beyond that - and equally important - the Warriors’ bench doesn’t necessarily need saving.
That said, for a team looking to bolster their bench scoring, the recent injury to Patrick McCaw may be the catalyst that forces Bob Myers and the front office to make a move. As per the team, McCaw will be re-evaluated in four weeks, meaning that the best case scenario would have him returning to action with about a week and a half remaining in the season. Given the way these things tend to go, it isn’t hard at all to imagine McCaw missing the entirety of the regular season as he heals from a broken bone in his wrist - opening the door for the Warriors getting an injury exemption to add another player.
The bench, and what we need
The data portal at NBA.com has all sorts of interesting tabulations of information that we can thumb through. I think that before we dive into the discussion of potential players who could slot in, we should first examine what the bench does (and does not) do well.
First of all, the most salient point: the Warriors bench is ranked second in the league in net rating. Meaning that when you add up points scored and points given, our bench is the second-most effective - at plus 2.5 points per game.
Secondly, our bench is tenth in minutes logged. In other words we tend to rely on our bench a bit more than the average NBA team. Additionally, they do a lot of good things at an elite level - the bench is the best in the league at FG% and blocks - which probably strongly correlates with the point above about the second-best point differential. Bottom line though is that our bench is not getting outplayed.
Now, what isn’t working? It’s a pretty short list: the bench ranks dead last in made three pointers, 22nd in attempted free throws, and 25th in turnovers. So any move we make should be with an eye towards shoring up one or more of these aspects.
What does the buyout market look like? Here are my top choices
If you aren’t familiar with the buyout market, or how it works, here’s a good primer from the SB Nation mothership to help you out with your remedial reading. Also, keep in mind that due to the nature of these transactions, there is no formal list of available players - we are going to be looking at players that are under contract with another team at this time who appear to be in a situation likely to result in a buyout.
Arron Afflalo (Orlando)
Afflalo was brought in to provide a veteran presence off the bench for the Orlando Magic and has done admirably, even while playing a career-low 13 minutes per game. Because Afflalo would have accumulated 135 days of service by Feb. 28, Orlando would not have any financial responsibility based on the NBA picking up the remaining $500K of Afflalo’s salary, making him one of the more likely candidates.
But would he help?
Afflalo is, unfortunately, a bit removed from his career apex. So even though he physically fits in the mold (6’5”, long-armed, versatile), his offensive game has taken a serious nose dive - with Orlando, he’s averaging around 3 points in 12 minutes of action and shooting just 37% from beyond the arch. Taken with his sub-par defense, this one is a hard pass for me and hard to see the Warriors going out of their way to bring him in.
Tyreke Evans (Memphis)
The most interesting (to me) of the potential names out there, but could the Warriors pry him away from the Grizzlies?
As per the USA Today:
Memphis rested Evans ahead of the trade deadline in an effort to keep him healthy and ended up not trading the resurgent guard. If they didn’t trade him, the thought was that they could potentially try and re-sign him this offseason on a reasonable deal. He’s averaging 19.4 points, 4.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds this season.
The primary question here is about getting Memphis to release him. While he does seem to tick a lot of the boxes as far as answers the Warriors are looking for, it seems unlikely that Memphis is going to pay him to walk away from the team given his effectiveness.
If this move was going to happen, it probably would have required a trade.
Jarrett Jack (New York Knicks)
Jack moves to a possible buyout candidate based on the crowded backcourt in New York after the addition of Emmanuel Mudiay. Resident super fan Dino is a huge proponent of Jack’s ability to control the ball, and score with a reasonable efficiency.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to offer anything the Warriors need at this time. His 29% shooting from deep would be an improvement of Andre Iguodala’s 22%, but is still too low to be considered a solution.
Gerald Henderson (free agent)
My dark horse candidate.
It’s been six months since hip surgery put him out of action but Henderson has recently been cleared to play and could be a great answer to our needs on the wing. A career 44 percent shooter from the field and 33 percent from 3, Henderson may not make anyone’s eyeballs pop out of their heads, but this is an intriguing enough possibility to warrant mention.
After getting traded to the Lakers, Frye’s name immediately began churning around the mouths of the ever-hungry NBA. He may not be a great (or even adequate) defender, but he does have that one golden trait that our fan base is clamoring for: bench shooting.
A career 38% shooter from deep, Frye would immediately open up another wrinkle in the Warriors schemes by adding the oft-coveted “stretch five.”
The only problems here are...well, pretty much everything else. He can’t defend, and he plays the position for which we have the most depth. He would have to fight his way past David West, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, and Javale McGee on the depth chart.
SO? Will the Warriors make a move?
I doubt it. But it sure is fun to talk about!