The Golden State Warriors made a change at the small forward position over the summer as starter Dorell Wright was part of a three-team trade that sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers. For head coach Mark Jackson the move means he’ll need to decide between Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush or first round draft choice Harrison Barnes.
For Rush he was one of the biggest steals for the Warriors as he came from the Indianapolis Pacers for Louis Amundson. He did not disappoint with a career year. Known primarily for his defense he showed that he is a capable scorer and in 65 games including one start he averaged 9.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, .9 blocks on 50.1 percent shooting, 45.2 percent from three and 79.3 percent from the free throw line.
Against the Los Angeles Lakers he scored a season high 23 points on 9-15 shooting and against the Portland Trail Blazers he registered his only double-double of the season when he scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. In four seasons in the NBA he averages 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, on 43.9 percent shooting, 41.3 percent from three and 72 percent from the free throw line.
With a healthy Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut the Warriors can stretch the floor and Rush would be the beneficiary of a number of open looks from beyond the arc and by playing solid defense he should definitely be the front-runner for the starting small forward spot.
Barnes is the other option and in two seasons at the University of North Carolina he averaged 16.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, on 43 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from three and 73.5 percent from the free throw line. In his Sophomore year he raised his scoring, steals, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. His rebounds, assists and free throw percentage decreased.
In the Summer League in the five games he averaged 16.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, .4 assists, 1.8 steals, on 39.5 percent shooting, 57.1 percent shooting from three and 72.7 percent from the free throw line. At this point he is better suited coming off the bench and that means he provides instant scoring and he will be coming off the bench with veterans Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack.
Since Rush is coming off a career season as well as shooting over 50 percent from the floor, over 45 percent from three and his solid defense and has more experience he deserves the starting small forward role for the Warriors in 2012-2013.