Plenty at stake for some Warriors in Las Vegas

July 10, 2012, 6:23 pm
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The Warriors summer league team has begun practicing in LasVegas in preparation for their first game on Friday night. Three Warriorsrookies Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green will make theirpro debuts for the Warriors, but theyre not the only ones with something atstake.

RECAP: Warriors' roster, schedule set for 2012 Summer League
The Warriorswill also have three second-yearplayers on their roster: Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler and ChrisWright.Heres a run-down of each player, and what to look for oncethe games begin:Harrison Barnes: The strength of Barnesgame is at the offensive end. He is a smooth jump shooter with a solidmid-range game and a 3-point shot that is improving.What the Warriors would like to see most, however, fromBarnes this summer is an ability to defend. Warriors owner Joe Lacob andgeneral manager Bob Myers have said they believe Barnes is a much betterathlete than given credit for.If thats the case, theres no reason Barnes, who is6-foot-8, cant excel at that end of the floor. Well get a first taste ofwhether he can this week.Well also get a read on whether its realistic to pencil inBarnes as the starter at small forward or whether that may have towait.Festus Ezeli: The Warriors are high onEzeli, and why shouldnt they be? After Andrew Bogut and David Lee, theWarriors front line is very thin, and so theres an opportunity for Ezeli toget minutes.For Ezeli, his job description should be relatively simple:Rebound, defend and take fouls at the rim. If he can show in Vegas hes capableof doing those things, it will bode very well for him heading into trainingcamp in the fall.Draymond Green: He had a tremendouscollege career at Michigan State, but there are concerns about him being atweener. The fear is that hes not big enough to be a power forward and notquick enough to play small forward.But theres another scenario, and its this: What if Greenis too quick for power forwards to defend and too strong and skilled on the boxfor small forwards to cover? We could get the first glimpse of that inVegas.If thats the case, Green could be a significant contributordown the road.Charles Jenkins: Until further notice or until the Warriors sign a free-agent point guard Jenkins is the de factobackup to Stephen Curry. Jenkins had a nice rookie season, taking advantage ofinjuries to players ahead of him, but it remains to be seen whether he canhandle a full-time backup role for 82 games.That vision should become clearer this week. Theres noreason Jenkins, with an NBA season under his belt, shouldnt be one of theWarriors best players in summer league. Heck, Jenkins should be one of thebest players in the entire league.And there will be no better time than in the next week or soto start determining whether Jenkins could possibly handle the full-time backuprole at point. Because at this point, thats what he is: Stephen Currysbackup.Jeremy Tyler: It would not be anunderstatement to say that this is a big summer league for Tyler. Its not thatTyler had a disappointing rookie season, its just that he didnt necessarilyprove to anyone that he can be a positive factor on an NBA team.One of the knocks on Tyler is that he lacks intensity. Thatis one area where Ezeli is said to excel. If theres a matchup or competitionto watch in Vegas, it would be the one between Tyler and Ezeli.Chris Wright: He doesnt have aguaranteed contract for 2012-13, so Wright must prove himself. One thing Wrighthas going for him is his athleticism, which is off the charts.Thats important because the Warriors are a team lacking inthat department. But Wright must also show hes made progress on his perimetergame, most notably becoming a better 18- to 20-foot shooter.Wright played power forward at Dayton, but hes trying tobecome a small forward at the NBA level.