The Warriors concluded the preseason on Thursday with a 90-74 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Golden State survived the exhibition season with no major injuries to their key players. They began infiltrating new players into the fold and developing chemistry. But a major question has emerged.
Where will the Warriors get points off the bench?
The holes left by guard Jarrett Jack and forward Carl Landry, both of whom signed elsewhere this summer, really stands out every time Golden State’s second unit checks in. They were reliable offense off the bench, Jack with his make-it-happen offense and Landry with his low-post game.
But none of the current back-up guards — Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore or Nemanja Nedovic — look comfortable creating offense. And the Warriors are getting nothing inside from the bigs off the bench. Marreese Speights seems married to his midrange jumper, though he shoots it well, and Jermaine O’Neal can’t find a rhythm in the post.
Some of that will be alleviated with Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson on the second unit (probably Thompson for this very reason). But the offensive struggles figure to put added pressure on the starters.
With eight minutes left in the game and the Warriors down 17, Jackson put four of his starters back in the game because it was getting embarrassing. Portland ran off a 22-0 run in the third quarter as Golden State couldn’t throw a rock in the Bay from the bridge.
The Warriors finished with 33 percent shooting. They totaled 26 points in the second half. The only players in double figures were Stephen Curry (17) and Klay Thompson (16).
Especially for the early goings of the season, this could mean lots of minutes for the Warriors starters. Jackson said in a normal situation, he would keep at least one primary offensive player in the game with the second unit. But he may have to resort to mixing in one reserve with the starters.
“It is somewhat of a concern, but not overly concerned,” Jackson said. “In a normal game, somebody would’ve been in there. (Someone with) a calming effect and not just a scoring mentality. Someone who can get us good looks and know when to stop the bleeding.”
Of course, starters were supposed to see a decline in minutes this year. The Warriors consider themselves even deeper than last season. But can the Warriors afford to go elongated stretches without scoring? Or have leads erased because they can’t stop other team’s runs?
“We’ve got guys coming off our bench that can fulfill a role,” Jackson said. “And we also went and got Andre (Iguodala) for that reason. So we’re not going to over-react. It is a process. … It’ll play itself out and we’re going to be fine.”