Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who's the Starting Small Forward?

After the Warriors traded away Dorrell Wright and drafted the impressive UNC forward Harrison Barnes this summer, most assumed Barnes would take over the starting duties at the 3 spot. However, Brandon Rush is saying not so fast.

Brandon Rush was a stud off the bench for the Dubs in 2012, but apparently he feels he could be doing much more as a starter. I don't know if it's a mindset he's taking into camp or if he really has expectations to breach the starting lineup, but he said recently that he's serious about making a run at the Warriors open small forward spot. Rush scored 10 points per game last season in under 30 minutes a night, but he did a lot more for the Warriors than that. He played solid defense, filled in well at the 2 and 3 spots and was the Warriors most consistent shooter from beyond the arch. However, after seeing Barnes tear it up in Vegas during the NBA Summer League, it really should be the 20 year-old's spot to lose. Barnes does a lot of the same things that Rush does, but has the skill-set to exceed the veteran in just about every category. A lot of NBA pundits picked Barnes as becoming the most impacting NBA player out of the recent draft class, right after Anthony Davis, and I think the Warriors are planning to throw him right into the fire. Unless he absolutely tanks in the preseason, look for him to take that 3-spot by the reigns to start the season.

The one thing that could give Rush an edge though is the Warriors expectations coming into the season. There are a lot of people picking this team to make the playoffs in 2013, and Mark Jackson does like his veterans. If he thinks that Rush will provide better defense and will flow better with the first unit than he very well could choose to at least start games with Rush out there at the 3. When it comes down to it though, Jackson will see that Rush is too valuable of bench commodity, with his versatility and quick production, and will likely look to make Brandon a premiere 6th man.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dwight Howard Heading to LA

After nearly a year of speculation and rumors involving fifty percent of NBA teams, Dwight Howard, the Magic and a 3rd party finally agreed on something!

In the trade of the summer, the Magic sent Dwight Howard to, surprise surprise, the LA Lakers in a 4-team, 12-player mega-deal. Oddly enough, Orlando probably got the worst return in the deal and couldn't manage to get the guy they supposedly wanted in Andrew Bynum. The Lakers' young center was part of the deal, but he'll be heading to Phily instead of Orlando because apparently the Magic didn't have a shot at signing him long term. After looking at the players the Magic did get, it makes me wonder why they didn't pull the trigger on Howard before the deadline last season when they had much more reasonable deals on the table. The Nets were offering Brooke Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a few unprotected draft picks to Orlando before the deadline, but instead, it will be Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and 3 picks heading to the Sunshine State. It's tough when your the clear losers in a deal that you give up your franchise player in, but that's exactly where the Magic find themselves after this one!

The winners in this deal, in my opinion, where each of the other three teams involved. The Lakers obviously make out the best, bringing in the NBA's top center and giving Kobe Bryant a force up front he hasn't had since Shaq. Add this deal on top of the trade they swung for Steve Nash last month, and the Lakers have reloaded exactly the way they wanted to this summer. I know they don't have the youngest team in the league, but they now have an element in Nash that they've never really had there during the Kobe years. The Lakers have never had that game-changing point guard, and it's going to take a huge load of pressure off Kobe Bryant. Sure, Bynum is also one of the top centers in the league, but he's not on the level Howard is yet, and Dwight better fits LA's immediate plans for contending. Not to mention it just didn't seem like Bynum was working out too well in LA. Kobe has said he'd like another ring or two before he hangs 'em up, and I their two deals this summer has put them in great position to do so.

 Speaking of Bynum, he'll be playing the 2012-13 season with the 76ers, and they have every intention on keeping him around long term. Philly had to part with Andre Iguodala, who's one of the best all-around players in the league, but expendable when you have a shot at reeling in a guy like Bynum. Iguodala will heading to Denver.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Quietly Successful Offseason

The Warriors didn't make any big splash this summer by signing a Deron Williams or anything like that, but they did add to areas of weakness and have constructed a pretty good team heading into the 2012-13.

They've been planning for this season since their big deal came before last February's trade deadline, acquiring the center they've longed for in Oakland for years. Most of this offseason has been about trying to find complimentary players to come in and help the new look Warriors. They've had three key moments this offseason, none of which were earth shattering, but should be extremely effective in the long haul. The biggest addition obviously came through the draft in the form of the uber-talented Harrison Barnes. The lengthy small forward out of UNC should blend right in with the Warriors motto and has even been better than anticipated in Vegas this summer. Barnes should step right in as the starting 3 on opening night and he's should be one of the finalists for Rookie of the Year by April if things go like they should. With him, Klay Thompson and Curry, the Warriors have put together an excellent young nucleus.

The second biggest acquisition over the summer in my mind was the addition of Jarret Jack. After the Dubs got Barnes in the draft, it made Dorrell Wright completely expendable, and the Warriors ended up getting a pretty good return for him. Jack is huge for this team because he can start at either the point guard or the 2-guard spot and give you above average minutes. Ultimately, Jack gives the Warriors a security blanket for Steph Curry in the form of a young veteran who can run an offense. As good as Nate Robinson was at times for the Dubs last season, he's nowhere near the level of player Jack is, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Jack become a prominent 6th man in Golden State.

The last stage for the Warriors, or at least up to this point, was putting the icing on the cake with the re-signing of Brandon Rush, and then the inking of Carl Landry. Rush had such a good year for the Warriors last season that they weren't going to let him go without a fight, and they ended up keeping him in the Bay Area. Landry had been a target of the Warriors for a couple of seasons, apparently, and after weeks of talk with him, the Dubs inked him around the same time they did Rush. With those two guys locked up and the Warriors starting position players and their backups seemingly in place, there really isn't much left for the front office to do between now and October. Basically it's time to sit and wait while the youngsters get their feet wet in Las Vegas and your two most important players nurse their injured ankles.