COMMENTARY | Although the Golden State Warriors had to wait until the end of the NBA moratorium period to finalize all of their negotiated deals, their new-look roster was already set in stone.
From the sign-and-trade deals facilitated to the signings of affordable veteran players, the Warriors roster is basically set aside from the last few end-of-the-bench spots available on the 15-man roster. The roster's almost complete, so now it's time to assess the Warriors' depth chart.
Stephen Curry is clearly the team's marquee player, primary leader and biggest difference maker. He made great all-around strides last season, particularly in the health department, and will continue to be one of the biggest factors as to whether the Warriors make it to the next level during the 2013-14 season.
While this is not his primary position, Andre Iguodala, the team's biggest acquisition, will see time as the team's point guard when Curry is not in the game. Averaging 5.4 assists per game with the Denver Nuggets last season, this wing player is one of the team's best facilitators. As the Warriors shuffle their lineups around depending on the personnel on the court, Iguodala will find himself running the offense often.
Despite Iguodala's acumen as a passer, the Warriors still needed a veteran backup point guard. Newly-signed Toney Douglas fills the role as a decent scorer and above-average on-ball defender against opposing ball handlers. He is an affordable fit to what the team needed at the position as a good defensive presence and capable three-point shooter.
The most interesting piece to the puzzle is 2013 first round selection Nemanja Nedovic, who was just signed to his rookie deal. Despite four years of professional basketball experience in Europe, he may be stashed overseas this season. Prior to Douglas' signing, Nedovic might have been viewed as the Warriors' backup point guard. Now that Douglas is a Warrior, Nedovic may just use this offseason for a little NBA experience in the Summer League and during training camp.
Scott Machado has a non-guaranteed contract and is a possible roster spot casualty, especially if Nedovic stays on the roster this season.
While Iguodala could be the Warriors' starting shooting guard in name only, Klay Thompson will likely retain the role he had from last season. A flourishing scorer in more than just the jump-shooting form, he became a better finisher at the rim and more-capable defender with his long wingspan and athleticism. He will once again be a major piece of the puzzle on both sides of the ball.
As for other players on the roster having minutes at this position, Curry, Iguodala, and Kent Bazemore should all see time for different in-game situations. Last season, Curry slid over to a non-facilitator role when Jarrett Jack was in the game. The same could happen when head coach Mark Jackson puts Iguodala in the point guard role or when Curry and Douglas play side-by-side.
Like Machado, Kevin Murphy, who was acquired in the trade that sent Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, and Brandon Rush to the Utah Jazz, has a non-guaranteed contract. Unless he impresses, he could easily be let go as well.
This position has the only uncertainty in the starting lineup. Harrison Barnes started nearly every game as rookie last season, but now the Warriors have Iguodala. While it may stifle his development, Iguodala is the better fit over Barnes as a starter. An elite defender and great fit alongside the other starters, Iguodala is what Barnes aspires to be in the future.
With Barnes likely relegated to the bench as the team's sixth man, he'll be relied upon to provide a spark on offense and lead the second unit. With Jack and Carl Landry on new teams, his success will greatly affect the reserves success this season.
Along with Bazemore and Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green was a key member of the team's newfound dedication to team defense. Sometimes defending the team's best offensive player, his physical play, toughness and basketball IQ intangibles made him a Jackson favorite. An improving offensive game will help him earn more minutes on the deep Warriors depth chart.
The 2013-14 season will be David Lee's fourth as the Warriors' starting power forward. A steady contributor since arriving to Golden State a couple years ago, he was the team's second-leading scorer and, more importantly, one of the league's best rebounders. While the number of shots he takes may decline a little with the addition of Iguodala, Lee will continue to be a double-double force and excellent offensive player.
Now backing up Lee is Marresse Speights, a fellow Florida Gator who has similar characteristics on offense to the starter at power forward. Bigger than Landry, the player he's replacing on the roster, Speights has a mid-range game on offense and should also excel in the team's pick-and-roll offense. Like Barnes, he will be one of the first players off the Warriors bench.
Coming off a solid season hampered by injuries, Andrew Bogut showed what he can provide down the stretch when he's healthy and able to contribute as the anchor of the Warriors' interior defense. Protecting the paint and aiding Lee in the team's rebounding efforts, he could be an even bigger focal point on offense this season now that more players on the roster can take the attention away from Bogut.
Jermaine O'Neal, 34, is not the ideal backup for Bogut given his own durability issues, but he should be able to get the job done as an experienced defender and capable scorer. As Ezeli recovers from knee surgery, hopefully O'Neal can provide what he did with the Phoenix Suns last season.
Like Machado at the point guard position, Dwayne Jones' likelihood of sticking on the roster becomes much tougher with the addition of O'Neal. He has a better chance to stay on the roster due to Ezeli's injury.
Austin Chang is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sports writer covering the Golden State Warriors for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is the Associate Editor of Sports Out West and an intern for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
- Sports & Recreation
- Golden State Warriors
- Andre Iguodala
- Stephen Curry