Golden State Warriors: With Crowded Front Court, What Role Will Jermaine O'Neal Have?

By Ryan Heckman
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors have outdone themselves this summer. They have brought in a ton of veteran talent to make their way into the conversation of competing for a championship in 2013.

Signing Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas and Jermaine O’Neal while also getting rid of some horrendous contracts in Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins has made the Warriors’ summer an enormous success.

Focusing specifically on their front court rotation, they have really bolstered their depth with O’Neal and Speights joining David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. With so many guys in line for minutes, where does O’Neal’s role lie?

Looking at Lee and Bogut, they take up about 50 minutes combined, averaging 36 and 25 respectively.That leaves about 45 minutes in the front court to be split between the other three guys.

Last season with the Phoenix Suns, O’Neal averaged just under 19 minutes per game. I think going into 2013, assuming he’s fully healthy, the Warriors could give him a solid 15 minutes along with Speights and Ezeli getting a similar type of run.

O’Neal is best when he plays around that amount anyways, because at his age and the way his health has been historically, he cannot afford to play any more than that. O’Neal can be effective in 15-20 minutes per night because he’s able to focus on making the best of a limited role.

Early on in O’Neal’s career, he had to worry about staying healthy and being depended on heavily in the starting rotation. After 16 seasons, that’s not the case. Entering his 17th season, O’Neal is coming off a year in which he ended with a PER of 16.76 — very respectable at his age and the type of minutes he’s playing.

The Warriors will get a great boost off the bench with O’Neal both offensively and defensively as long as they use him correctly. With so many big men on the roster, it will be tough for Golden State not to use him the way he’s meant to be.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA Writer for Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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