The Warriors have a wealth of small forward/shooting guards. Last year, this position was one of the team’s great strengths. It was where the Warriors versatility lied. It was the position their best defenders played. This year, they weren’t so good. The Warriors, with the way they play, need swingmen who produce consistently. One of the reasons for the lineup shuffling was the inconsistent production of the swingmen.
Stephen Jackson: He had a career year. He averaged 20 points for the first time in his career. He averaged four assists for just the second time in his career (both coming with the Warriors). He shot his best percentage from 3-point range ever. He averaged 39 minutes, five more than last season. His previous career high was 36.8. So Jackson certainly had a big year. He wasn’t as good defensively this season as he was last season. He wasn’t the stopper he proved to be a year ago, and he didn’t make it to the defensive end way too many times. That is mostly due to the amount of minutes he played.
Mickael Pietrus: He was the distraction this year – not Baron’s health, not Jackson’s temper, not Monta or Biedrins’ contract. But Pietrus’ contract issues and trade demands, then late-season injury woes, was the biggest locker room issue. That’s a sign of a good locker room.
His play picked up late in the season, negating a horrible first half of the season. He evidently relaxed when the trade deadline passed. What he gained with stellar bench play, he lost with an elongated groin injury.
Matt Barnes: He just didn’t bring it this year. He has reasons. His mother dying. The disappointment of not getting the deal he wanted plus the pressure of trying to do even more to get a bigger contract. Nellie riding him. Barnes certainly had distractions this season and they obviously took away from his play. Not only did he shoot drop three points off his scoring average from last season, and dropped from 36.6 percent from 3 a year ago to 29.3. But he didn’t have the zeal on defense, the all-out hustle, the blue-collar, do it all resolve he showed last season, especially during the playoffs.
Kelenna Azubuike: He improved this season. He played more, raised his scoring and rebounding averages. Came up with some big plays. Solidified himself as an NBA regular. He did have some growing pains. He stepped out of his role too much, especially down the stretch, and he wasn’t as consistent from behind the arc. His defense was poor sometimes, but that could be expected from a second-year player. He’s cheap, so his production looks a whole lot better and his mistakes are a way easier to swallow.