ONTARIO, Calif.--After more than a month of private workouts and closed training camp practices, the new-look Warriors were finally revealed to the public in Saturday's exhibition opener. And immediately, Golden State--which lost 104-95 to the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers--provided something to chew on for one of the biggest questions facing this team so far.
Coach Mark Jackson started newcomer Andre Iguodala in place of Klay Thompson, who has started every game for Golden State since the franchise traded away Monta Ellis in March 2012. This was the first sign of what Jackson is thinking in regards to his starting lineup, for which he has six players in the pool.
"Truthfully," Jackson said, "there is zero to read into that."
Certainly, Iguodala showed the added dimensions he brings. His size, athleticism and overall skill was on full display in his one half of action.
He twice turned post-ups into easy baskets. On two other occasions, he finished at the rim with the authority, one of them a spinning drive in traffic he created on his own. Harrison Barnes was the only one who provided that element for the Warriors last season, and he doesn't have Iguodala's ballhandling and court vision. Plus, Iguodala is a top-notch defender, as evidenced when he picked the pocket of Lakers guard Xavier Henry at half court and soared in for a tomahawk dunk.
Iguodala had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 21 first-half minutes. He also had three rebounds and two steals.
Still, Jackson said Iguodala and Barnes starting together, with Thompson coming off the bench, is just one of three options he's investigating in the exhibition season. Jackson said Thompson will get his chance to start. Jackson also suggested he would give Iguodala a look off the bench. But with Iguodala's new $48 million contract and the way he looked in the opener, he figures to be a lock to start along with Stephen Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut.
"Don't read anything into it," Jackson reiterated. "It's just the way we're starting (Saturday). You could go either way. ... All those guys are going to play a lot."
Playing Barnes and Iguodala together fits with Jackson's desire to pick up the tempo. Both are explosive athletes with good size. With them flanking Curry, that figures to be a boon to Golden State's transition game.
But you could argue Iguodala starting with Thompson is the Warriors' best defensive option--which matters for a team that talks so much about defense.
With that said, Thompson is the only one of the three with experience coming off the bench. Neither Iguodala nor Barnes has been a reserve before. Thompson has 37 such games under his belt.
He looked it Saturday, scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 19 minutes. He was aggressive looking for his shot and didn't settle for jumpers.
Some other things we learned Saturday night:
--Bogut is hungry. He played noticeably hard and was physical from the outset. It was the most active and lively Bogut has looked as a Warrior when not amped up on anti-inflammatories.
He had 12 rebounds in 17 minutes. He was aggressive on offense but never able to find a rhythm, totaling seven points on 2-of-8 shooting in the first half, several of his misses from up close.
--Jackson went surprisingly big. At one point in the first half, he played Bogut with fellow center Jermaine O'Neal, with Iguodala rounding out the frontcourt.
O'Neal, like Bogut, stood out for his edgy play. He blocked a hook at the rim by the Los Angeles big man Robert Sacre and proceeded to strut down court barking. Midway through the third quarter, he took away an easy layup with a hard foul on Lakers' forward Jordan Hill, shooting Hill a not-in-my-paint stare.
It's clear the Warriors have two centers willing to mix it up and capable of protecting the rim. And it appears their training camp battles with each other have them primed for the season already.
--Curry's ankles are fine. He didn't do much, totaling less than 15 minutes in the first half, but did provide one of the highlights of the night.
After a first-quarter steal set up a breakaway, Curry looked as if he were ready to throw a lob to Barnes. But Barnes conceded, giving Curry the breakaway. He threw down a one-hand dunk, prompting an eruption from the Warriors bench.
--Point guard Toney Douglas, signed this offseason, didn't play until the third quarter. Second-year guard Kent Bazemore, on the other hand, was 0 for 2 in just under four minutes of first-half action.
--The Warriors offense, which was largely predicated on 3-point shooting last season, featured a lot of post-ups. Iguodala, Barnes, Bogut, Lee, and Thompson they all got isolations in the post.
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