The Golden State Warriors have built off of their success in the 2013 NBA Playoffs by improving their roster dramatically this off-season. They added depth at center with Jermaine O’Neal and at power forward with Marreese Speights. However, the biggest addition was obviously Andre Iguodala, who will slide as a starter on the wing.
Though adding Iguodala to their rotation is an enormous asset, it does come with some drawbacks, namely less playing time for young forward Harrison Barnes. Many people were looking forward to seeing how Barnes would develop in his second NBA season and now it seems that Barnes might not get as much of an opportunity.
Barnes played 81 games for Golden State in his rookie season and averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.6 steals in 25.4 minutes per game while shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 35.9 percent from three. However, with David Lee injured in the playoffs, Barnes got moved to the four in a small-ball lineup and really shined. In 12 playoff games he averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.6 steals in 38.4 minutes per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 36.5 percent from long-range.
There’s no question that Barnes showed a ton of potential last season, but having Iguodala with Klay Thompson and Steph Curry really forces him out of the starting rotation. Obviously that means that he won’t be starting. Yet the Warriors really need to figure out a way to keep Barnes developing.
Essentially the Warriors have two options. The first option is for the Warriors to play Barnes at multiple positions so that they can maximize his time on the floor in relief of multiple starters. However, the more feasible option would be to try and move Lee. Lee is a quality player, but his upside is limited and he’s somewhat overpaid. Dealing him would allow for young players like Barnes to develop and would help open up cap room. There’s no telling who they could pull that deal off with, but they have to consider it.
In the end, what matters for the Warriors in the upcoming season is getting Barnes a consistent amount of minutes. At just 21 years old, he has the ability to attack the rim, shoot, defend and make plays. He’s a special talent that needs to be nurtured. Sitting him on the bench obviously isn’t going to do that.