Will Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes Start Next Season?

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This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

The addition of Andre Iguodala brings up questions as to whether Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes will come off the bench for the Golden State Warriors next season. It would make more sense for the Warriors to start Thompson and have Barnes be the sixth man. Here are four reasons why:

1. Thompson plays both sides of the court better than Barnes does, so Thompson is more valuable as a starter.
Although Barnes has potential to become a quality one-on-one defender, Thompson proved in the postseason that he’s the better defender of the two. Thompson shut down Ty Lawson in the series against the Denver Nuggets, and he also did a fantastic job guarding Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the series against the San Antonio Spurs. He was able to use his length and size to prevent Parker and Ginobili from penetrating to the basket and scoring on easy mid-range baskets or three-pointers.
Iguodala is a versatile defender who can guard several positions, and he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Having him alongside Thompson and Andrew Bogut would certainly make this team even better defensively.

2. If Barnes came off the bench, it would allow him to excel even more, given the fact that he’d play against the reserves of the opposing team.
Although some people fear that the addition of Iguodala will stifle Barnes’ growth, Barnes actually would have the opportunity to show off his game even more coming off the bench. Instead of competing against LeBron James or Kevin Durant, Barnes would be able to play against the small forward or power forward in an opponent’s weaker lineup.
Also, with the departure of Brandon Rush, Barnes could become the Warriors’ sixth man and primary scorer off the bench. Given Barnes’ athleticism, he could really excel in this role and become even more of a key component in the Warriors’ rotation.

3. Barnes’ skillset is similar to Iguodala’s, offensively, so it would benefit the Warriors more to have Barnes come off the bench.
Both Barnes and Iguodala are strong, athletic, and quick, so it would make more sense for the Warriors to avoid having two players who play the same position, with very similar skillsets, on the floor at the same time.
Having Thompson start would give Iguodala more room to drive to the basket. It would also allow the Warriors to spread the floor more with an extra three-point shooter, since Thompson is a better three-point shooter than Barnes. If Iguodala, Stephen Curry, or Nemanja Nedovic (if he plays for the Warriors this season) drives to the basket, they will require more attention from the defense in the paint, which would free up Thompson on the three-point line.

4. If Barnes comes off the bench, the Warriors have more range in the types of lineups they can use.
The Warriors would start Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, David Lee, and Bogut. However, the Warriors could decide to go small at any point in the game and use a lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes, and Lee or Bogut.
The Warriors have had success before with a small lineup like this one. In their series against Denver, Barnes played power forward several times and did well. He was more active on the boards, and he was able to use his quickness to his advantage against slower power forwards. In addition, Barnes’ ability to play power forward gives the Warriors some flexibility if Bogut gets injured again.

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