Jackson on blowout win: 'The mindset is to make a statement'
The Warriors backups have been an area of concern from the preseason and into the regular season. (AP)
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Four games into the season, the Warriors have gotten a little bit of everything from their starters, from scoring and rebounding to ball movement and defense.
They won't be a complete team until these characteristics also apply to the bench.
The backups have been an area of concern from the preseason and into the regular season. Yet no one has made himself worthy of more minutes because no one has been reliably productive.
And they've had plenty of floor time, as none of the three of the Warriors' wins have been close.
It is conceivable, even likely, that there will be no complete second unit, that one or more starters always will be on the floor. Jackson has on several occasions indicated precisely that. And the backups, though not lacking for effort, have given him no convincing reason to reconsider. They gave back nearly half of the 39-point lead they inherited against the 76ers.
It's crucial, though, that someone who comes off the pine – Marreese Speights, Draymond Green, Toney Douglas or Jermaine O'Neal – establishes himself as a reasonable offensive option. Thus far, only Green and Speights have provided a few glimpses of possibility.
It's too early to panic, much too early for general manager Bob Myers to start looking in earnest for other spare parts. The bench will improve when Harrison Barnes returns, whenever that is, no matter his role. If he comes off the bench, opponents have to respect his offensive game. If he starts, that means Klay Thompson coming off the bench with instant offense.
Right now, though, Jackson is planting O'Neal on the block, hoping for post offense, and getting little in return. Green hits the occasional 3-pointer, but not so much it should be expected. Douglas' shot accuracy has been wildly inconsistent. Speights, with a decent mid-range jumper, has emerged as a potential threat.
Jackson probably would trade all four, if it were possible, to have Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry rejoin the Warriors. That neither is fully healthy is irrelevant, because any such trade is no more than hypothetical.
But it highlights the importance of a strong bench, something the 2012-13 Warriors possessed mostly thanks to Jack and Landry. They brought not only offense but also high energy and a sense of trust.
That was enough to allow Jackson to rest his starters with a degree of confidence. And the coach has made clear he'd prefer to shorten the minutes of his starters even more this season.
He can't. Not yet. Not with this current group searching for its rhythm, its mojo.
Maybe it'll come together when Barnes returns, changing the dynamic and the overall rotation. For the moment, though, Jackson continues to search for a solid seven, much less a super six.