The Golden State Warriors are known to get fans out of their seats with nonstop offensive explosions, but the inconsistent play from the bench is cause for concern for a squad with such a great opportunity to make a deep run through the playoffs.
Despite being one of the most heavily equipped offenses in the NBA, the Warriors are barely in 8th place in a tough Western Conference playoff race. By no means is their 31-22 record bad, but it is clear that in order to ensure that they keep their reputation as a good team, Golden State needs a little something extra to get them over the hump. That little something extra could stem from improved play from the players on the Golden State bench in the future.
To better understand how much the bench support has been slacking for the Warriors, it is best to dive off into the team’s numbers.
The Warriors put up the 10th most points in the league by averaging 103.6 points per game. Of those 103.6 points, the Warriors’ bench only accounts for 24.1 of them. That puts Golden State at an abysmal ranking of 29th in bench scoring. There are only 30 teams in the league, which means Golden State is only ahead of Portland in bench scoring. This makes no sense because if one was to glance at the Warriors’ bench on paper, then they would say that the bench is designed to come off the pine and provide the team with some major contributions in the scoring column. Unfortunately, that notion would be considered wishful thinking.
There are plenty of players on the bench that have tons of talent. It just depends on each player coming off of the bench and being ready when their number is called.
Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have been two great additions to the team since being drafted last year. Barnes has upped his 9.2 scoring average of last year to 10.4 this year. Green is a multifaceted player and plays the role of Swiss Army knife for Golden State. Green isn’t great at anything but he is good at a lot of things and his averages of 5.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.04 steals are testaments to his affinity for hustle plays and doing the dirty work. However, head coach Mark Jackson knows that before these two youngsters can swim, they need to learn how to tread water. In other words, they are still in the process of learning the game because of their young age.
Another great addition to the bench has been backup point guard Jordan Crawford. Crawford was a starter in Boston before being traded from the Celtics to the Warriors. In 13 games for the Warriors this season, Crawford has averaged 6.3 points and 2.2 assists. Crawford has definitely had a reduced role since coming over to the Warriors and many wonder if that will hinder his play.
The big men that come off the bench for Golden State are solid and other teams in the NBA would likely be delighted to have them on their rosters.
6-foot-11 inch Jermaine O’Neal is 35 years old and has struggled with injuries this year. When O’Neal is healthy enough to play, he gives the Warriors 6.5 points and 4.7 boards. Golden State has another solid big man that comes off of the bench in Marreese Speights, who is 6-foot-10 inches and 255 pounds. Speights provides 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds and recently had a career night in which he put up 32 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in a 123-80 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on February 10th.
As evidenced by the statistics, Golden State has a bunch of talent on the bench. Guys like Green and Barnes show signs of being good players in the NBA for a long time. O’Neal is fighting health issues but has always been a dependable veteran in his career and Speights is clearly a solid player who just needs to play at a more consistent rate. Crawford is someone who can act as a microwave off of the bench for Golden State but his reduced role is definitely a concerning factor.
The aforementioned players are the keys to fixing the bench woes for Golden State. They have to set a good example for other bench players such as Kent Bazemore and Nemanja Nedovic, who are hoping for more opportunities to show that they can provide a spark off the bench. Strong and consistent bench play is the missing piece to the Warriors’ puzzle as they try to figure out how to spring into Western Conference supremacy and solidify their position as a great team in a league full of tough competition.