Are the Warriors Sacrificing Depth For All-Stars?

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Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant look on from the bench

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant look on from the bench – Icon Sportswire

The Golden State Warriors have had one of the strongest starting units since they won their first championship of the Curry era in 2015. However, back in 2015, the secret to their success was their incredibly strong bench.

In 2014-15 the Warriors starters were:

1. Steph Curry

2. Klay Thompson

3. Harrison Barnes

4. Draymond Green

5. Andrew Bogut

Off the bench, their primary weapons were: Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David Lee, Mo Speights, and Leandro Barbosa. 

Compared that to the 2017-18 season where they replaced Barnes and Bogut with Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia. Durant is an obvious upgrade, and Pachulia may be a small downgrade, but that is dwarfed by the scale of the upgrade from Barnes to Durant. So their starters got much stronger it’s fair to say. 

Golden State Warriors Guard Klay Thompson

Golden State Warriors Guard Klay Thompson – Icon Sportswire

Golden State Warriors Past Bench

But off the bench their main weapons were now a much older Iggy and Livingston, as well as another veteran in David West and a whole bunch of rotation pieces who were in a constant fight to even come off the bench, like Bell, Young, McGee, Cook, McCaw, Casspi, Looney, and Jones. 

That bench was still lead by Livingston and Iguodala although versions of them which were three years older. The other rotation pieces like Nick Young, David West, and JaVale McGee was good. However, it was clear just from Steve Kerr’s use of more players, that the bench was weaker last season.

Golden State Warriors 2019 Bench

Moreover, now this season, the Warriors made the blockbuster move of signing Demarcus Cousins. He will likely not play until January at the earliest as he continues to recover from an Achilles tear. So before Cousins is back, the Warriors starting five will likely be the same as last year but probably with Kevon Looney stepping in to replace Pachulia until Cousins is back. Then the main bench pieces this year will still be Iggy and Livingston, along with Bell, Jones, and Cook all probably having slightly increased roles as well as that Jonas Jerebko may get some play time and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see some minutes given to the Warriors newest first round pick, Jacob Evans.

In general, this year’s bench looks a lot weaker than last years because of the loss of key pieces and the continual decline of Iguodala and Livingston. Perhaps the Warriors will have to resort to a Tom Thibodeau style rotation where the starters just get all the minutes because the bench is so weak.

We will have to wait and see what happens this season, but it’s sure to be interesting.

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