Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes Likely To Come Off The Bench


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After starting 81 games as a rookie last year, Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes is likely to see a role off the bench this season. With the addition of veteran swingman Andre Iguodala in the offseason, questions arose about whether Barnes or shooting guard Klay Thompson would be the odd man out of the starting rotation.

Barnes has been hampered by a foot injury for a majority of the preseason and his health is likely to play a factor in coach Mark Jackson‘s decision about whether to start him or Thompson on opening night. If the injury does not heal by the start of the regular season, it could pose some problems for a team that many people expect to contend in the Western Conference.

Last year, Barnes averaged 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during the regular season, while shooting 43.9 percent from the field. In two playoff series, Barnes saw increased minutes on a Warriors team that was plagued by injuries and he stepped his game up, averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest.

When Golden State signed Iguodala to a four-year, $48 million deal from the Denver Nuggets during the offseason, he was immediately inserted into the starting rotation. Last season, Iguodala, arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, averaged 13 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game, while finishing in the top 10 in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

It would be difficult for Jackson to keep Thompson out of the starting lineup as well, especially after he averaged 16.6 points per game during the regular season and made 211 3-pointers, which was good for third best in the NBA.

If his foot can heal by opening night, Barnes, who finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting, will likely see a majority of his minutes come off the bench.

In a recent interview, Jackson explained why the injury to Barnes would likely have an impact on his decision making.

"“Unfortunately [the injury] has got to play a factor because you didn’t really get to see those units together, no matter who it is. The good thing is, I know all of these guys. I envisioned when we got Andre how I would utilize all of them and that hasn’t changed.”"

With Thompson expected to start at shooting guard and Iguodala at small forward, Barnes will need to take advantage of his new role, especially after making big strides during the postseason. The Warriors have championship aspirations this year and his health will play a major factor in determining the success of this team.

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