We preview the Golden State Warriors and the impact their players will have on the 2016-2017 fantasy basketball season.
The Warriors got three significant new players, but lost two starters (Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut) and four rotation players (Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, and Marreese Speights). Look for the Warriors to cruise through the regular season with the stars producing at the same per-minute rate but with their minutes lower than you expect on many nights. This means the bench players will get more opportunity and we may be able to find serious value on the waiver wire out of Golden State. The flip side of that is the frustration we will have with the stars that may be giving up minutes.
|David West San Antonio Spurs
Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder
Zaza Pachulia Dallas Mavericks
JaVale McGee Non-Guaranteed Contract
|Leandro Barbosa Phoenix Suns
Harrison Barnes Dallas Mavericks
Andrew Bogut Dallas Mavericks
Festus Ezeli Portland Trail Blazers
Brandon Rush Minnesota Timberwolves
Marreese Speights Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State Warriors Depth Chart
James Michael McAdoo
Rotation Player Projections
||James Michael McAdoo
The Fourth Guard
The Warriors have two first-team all NBA caliber starting guards, and one of the best backup point guards in the league. After that, the only guard that got minutes last year currently on their roster is Ian Clark. A lot has been made of the supposed trend of second-round picks that were bought having significantly better results than other picks, but I am very leery of the idea that McCaw could contribute in his rookie year as a second-round pick.
What I do know is that Ian Clark played over half his minutes last year with Curry or Livingston which makes him a viable option as a Shooting Guard. He put up very good fantasy numbers on a per minute basis. While he might end up sharing this spot with McCaw eventually, I would bet on Clark winning this battle and averaging 20 minutes or more.
The Fourth Big
I hesitate to call this the backup center job, but the Warriors don't have a legitimate option after Zaza, Draymond, and West. While Varejao might get minutes, he is not good enough at basketball anymore to play many minutes in the NBA. Watching his flopping in the finals was quite painful. Look for McAdoo or Jones to develop into a rotation player early this season. The Warriors will have the luxury of a lot of garbage time to watch these players develop.
What the Warriors don't have is the desperation it would require to pick up JaVale McGee if his mind isn't in the game. I hope for the best for him, but I don't give him good odds to make the team. His ceiling is quite high, but even if he makes the team I doubt he plays more than 5-10 minutes per game, with a lot of DNPs. Despite all that, the Dubs do have a need at backup center and they wouldn't bring him into training camp if he didn't have a good shot at making the roster. Definite lottery pick, but not worth the risk except for very deep leagues.
Rise in Value
None of the mainstays of the Warriors dramatically increased their value this season. Look for Curry, Klay, Durant, Green, Iggy, Livingston to all perform at the same level they did last year, with a small down-tick possible in per-minute production for all of them, and a small minute reduction likely for Curry and Durant at least. In deep leagues though, you can target Warriors bench players like Ian Clarke and the fourth big (if it is McGee, McAdoo, or Jones) who could see greatly increased roles.
Last year in San Antonio, West played sporadically in a deep Spurs front court. This year he is joining an even better team but one with almost no depth in the front court. The Warriors can use every minute West can give them unless one of their young players develops faster than anticipated. Even if he only matches the 18 minutes per game he had last year, his competition for rebounds and blocks is significantly lower in Golden State so his per minute fantasy production will rise.
As discussed above, Ian has a lot of opportunity to be the second guard off the bench for a team that might be pulling their starters early many nights. Last year he played half his minutes as a PG and half as a SG, so he can play with any other guard combination they have.
Decrease in Value
No one knows for sure how this new collection of Superstars will gel together. What we do know is they won't need to play as many minutes together. How do you put your 3rd best wing defender on Klay Thompson and expect to contain him? Zaza is a seriously effective NBA center and will be a significant offensive threat since he will usually be a distant afterthought by opposing coaches. Something has to give with this team, but we can only guess at this point.
Most conjecture is that Klay will take the biggest hit, but I am not convinced. I think Kerr will space out the minutes his starters get, letting them produce at normal rates per minute but lowering their overall minutes as a team. I imagine all of these players will produce for fantasy teams at a higher rate than before overall but a slight reduction after accounting for the lowered minutes.
When you put up historic numbers as a team, there is more production to spread around!
On most teams, I wouldn't consider Varejao important enough to list in this section, but with the departure of both Ezeli and Bogut he is going into the season as nominally the backup Center. Don't count on him being there more than a quarter of the games this year and for the young bigs to get a chance to perform.
The Megadeth Lineup Curry/Klay/Durant/Iggy/Green
If Kerr plays this lineup significant minutes, there won't be enough shots to go around for these guys to keep their value from last year. But looking at the difference between Durant and Barnes, there is only a difference of 8 shots per 100 possessions. Some of those shots will be made up by rotating the stars around so there are always one or two of them on the court, if Kerr decides to play that way. But even if he doesn't, it isn't inconceivable that this team is so much more efficient with this awesome collection of talent that there is more production to go around.