Can Warriors' second unit be better than last season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors officially added a new member to their bench Monday, one day before leaving for a two-game trip in Japan. In reality, the newest member is one who has played seven previous seasons over two stints with the Warriors and has helped them win four NBA championships.
Andre Iguodala put pen to paper Monday for his 19th and final season in the NBA. His mentorship has been lauded, but he isn't done providing Steve Kerr with his play on the court. There isn't a set number of games Iguodala will play or an exact minutes limit. Jumping back on the Peloton helped the 38-year-old realize he isn't in quite as bad of shape as he previously thought.
He also made it a point to recognize Rick Celebrini, the Warriors' director of sports medicine and performance. If it wasn't for Celebrini mapping out the best way Iguodala can be utilized at this point in his storied career, the former Finals MVP likely would have hung up his sneakers for good.
Once used as the Warriors' ultimate weapon off the bench, Iguodala's combination of playing and being an extra pseudo coach will be immeasurable at times. That goes beyond the box score. Whether he's playing with them, watching them or mentoring them, Iguodala is extremely high on the Warriors' new-look second unit.
Perhaps even more than the group that played a major role in Golden State bringing the title back to The Bay last season.
"We have the luxury of the way some of the young guys are playing, we had some really good signings in the offseason with Donte [DiVincenzo], with JaMychal [Green]," Iguodala said Monday at Chase Center. "Moses [Moody] is looking really good. Obviously we have high expectations for [Jonathan] Kuminga.
"We have some really good depth where we don't have to put too much pressure on Steph [Curry], Klay [Thompson], [Andrew] Wiggins and we'll still be fine. It's looking like our second unit is a little bit stronger.
"That's not a knock on what we had. But before games last year we would have to say, 'All right, we need Steph to be Superman today.' I think we don't have to rely on that as much. He's still gonna be him, but I think that's gonna be an added luxury for us."
That begs the question, does his head coach agree?
"We'll see," Kerr said. "I thought last year's second unit was pretty special. [Otto Porter Jr.] and [Gary Payton II] had great seasons. [Nemanja Bjelica] did some great things for us. It's definitely a different look, but I like the talent level.
"Between Moses, JK, [James Wiseman], [Jordan Poole], we got a lot of guys with a lot of ability. But the ability has to be matched by knowledge and understanding of the game. That's the real challenge for all these young guys."
The challenge for Kerr and the rest of his coaching staff is figuring out what the best combinations are, and who's going to play the best together. The second unit doesn't only consist of bench players. It will include starters and some pretty big names as well.
Porter and Payton were able to mesh with multiple Warriors, and with different skill sets. One is a 6-foot-8 forward who can stretch the floor, shoot it from 3-point range, add rebounding and always kept the Warriors flowing as the ultimate king of plus-minus. The other is a 6-foot-3 guard who was an absolute game-changer on defense and played the Warriors' dunker role with his unique game.
Poole will score the brunt of the Warriors' points off the bench as their Sixth Man. He'll still get starts when Curry and Thompson need a break, and might even end up as the Warriors' second-leading scorer. That's not a stretch to expect by any means. Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody all bring youth, athleticism and top talent -- sprinkled with the almighty question marks of inexperience.
Those inexperience questions are there for a reason. However, Kuminga and Moody both contributed in the playoffs at 19 years old for a championship team. Wiseman is the eldest of three at 21 years old, and now that he's healthy and experiencing his first training camp, the reviews have been even better than the Warriors could have hoped for.
Green was brought in to be a needed veteran presence for such a young group, and to bring his grit and grind style and attitude. He'll happily do that. One player who has stood out to Iguodala early on is the other free agent general manager Bob Myers and the rest of the front office zeroed in on.
Over the first four years of his career, DiVincenzo has been a bench player, a starter, a champion, injured and traded. He looks to be next in a long line of players who have re-established themselves with the Warriors, and Iguodala can see why that easily can be the case.
"He's a guy that I naturally -- I'm gonna feed him on purpose," Iguodala said. "He can do a lot for us, and as many opportunities as I can give him, I am. It's gonna help other guys to see what he can do as well."
Kerr is in complete agreement.
"Yeah, Donte fits right in with our team the way we play," Kerr said. "He's got a really good feel. He's a great shooter, really good ballhandler, passer and playmaker. Thrilled to have Donte.
"He can make a big impact on our team this year."
The Warriors' new second unit is younger, more explosive, full of top-end talent and brings an added element to a team that soon will celebrate with more sparkling bling on opening night. Will it be better than a season ago? Iguodala sees the potential for that to ring true.
In the eyes of a coach, we'll have to wait and see.