For the past five seasons, the Golden State Warriors were a fast paced, run and gun, offensive minded team. Formerly led by Monta Ellis, they were able to play exciting ball, but nothing more. Aside from two or three good players, the Warriors roster was usually filled out by bad contracts, worse draft picks, and D-Leaguers. Those days are over.
With the resurgence of the Warriors, they now find themselves a completely different team. Their draft picks are panning out, their bad contracts are down to just Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson, and most importantly, they have true depth.
The offseason signings of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have proven to be two of the best signings by any team last offseason. Both players have found ways to contribute night in and night out and have been a staple to the Warriors bench and to the organization. Teammates with the New Orleans Hornets over the past two seasons, Jack and Landry already had a connection on and off of the court. They are seasoned veterans that have brought the necessary leadership to a team made up of relatively young players.
Jack has averaged 13.2 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in 29.6 minutes and has only missed three games all season, but what his stats don’t show is his timely shooting and knack for shining in the big moment. The addition of Jack has also added another great ball handler and confident scoring option late in ball games that has allowed Stephen Curry to move without the ball and get more open shots.
Jack is by far the most passionate Warrior and keeps the team both loose and composed with his attitude. Jack has had 20+ points 12 times and seven or more assists 23 times this season. His most memorable performance of the year was in a 107-101 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs in which Jack went for 30 points and 10 assists.
Landry has averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game and has only missed one game all season. As a true power forward, he helped David Lee and Festus Ezeli hold down the center position when Andrew Bogut was out recovering from an ankle injury. Early in the season, Landry sparked the Warriors to some big victories, averaging nearly 16 points and seven rebounds per game in October and November.
Landry is coming off of his best game of the season, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against the Portland Trail Blazers. His low post leadership and physical presence on both ends of the floor have done wonders for a Warriors team that hasn’t rebounded or played defense for the better part of two decades.
With Jack and Landry emerging as one of the NBA‘s best bench duos, coach Mark Jackson has been able to mix and match his younger players around them at will, knowing that he always has two consistent weapons and leaders on the floor. As the Warriors continue to roll into the playoffs, their veteran leadership will be more important than ever.
The Warriors take on Jack and Landry’s former Hornets team on Wednesday night. It is a must win for Golden State as they continue to fight for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.