One of the Warriors’ biggest competitive advantages — besides the presence of two of the greatest shooters ever — is their depth, signified most clearly by Andre Iguodala. The MVP of last year’s Finals didn’t even start the first two games of that series, but his defense on LeBron James made such an impact that he was given the award over Golden State’s three biggest stars — and, of course, his fellow small forward, Harrison Barnes.
In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, Iggy was pressed into starting action again, this time to harass Kevin Durant, a tactic which worked beautifully. So, with coach Steve Kerr’s history of success slotting Iguodala in the first five against elite small forwards, does this mean Barnes will be a reserve in the Finals rematch? Don’t ask him, because he has “no idea.”
“I’m going to be ready to play Game 1 of the Finals whether I play 20 minutes off the bench, whether I start and play 35,” Barnes said. “Whatever it is, I’m going to do my job because there is no better feeling than hoisting that championship trophy.”
You’d expect nothing less from one of the most selfless teams in the game, but there’s a good chance Barnes already knows and simply doesn’t want to give away any free information.
Barnes has value in the starting lineup because he’s a better spot-up shooter than Iguodala who doesn’t need the ball to be successful. Yet Andre is better in nearly every other facet of the game — which has value since he can lead Golden State’s second unit as a primary ballhandler. Switching the two would goose the starters’ defense, especially on LeBron, but Barnes — no slouch on D himself because he can adequately defend three positions — doesn’t add much dynamism off the bench; he would still largely depend on others to create offense, unless they’re throwing it into him to turn and shoot over a smaller defender in the post.
It will be one of the hundreds of tough coaching decisions that Steve Kerr will have to make in the Finals.
(Via San Jose Mercury News)