This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.
Brandon Rush only played in two games for the Golden State Warriors this past season, but he is one of the most important players for them going into next season. During the 2011-2012 season, Rush was a stellar sixth man for the Warriors. He played in 65 games and averaged 9.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks on 50.1 percent shooting and 45.2 percent shooting from three (sixth in the NBA) in 26.4 minutes per game. Rush was sidelined with an ACL injury last season, and his presence was certainly missed. He would’ve made the Warriors’ bench even deeper and more dangerous.
Rush has officially picked up his player option with the Warriors for the 2013-2014 season. It’s not clear if the Warriors will be able to bring back other key free agents off the bench, such as Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, but let’s assume for now that they bring back both. If the Warriors’ bench next season included Jack, Rush, Landry, Draymond Green, and Festus Ezeli, then the Warriors would have one of the deepest rosters in the league.
A sixth man is key to any playoff team. If Jack, who assumed the role of sixth man with Rush out last season, doesn’t re-sign, the Warriors are going to need an effective sixth man who can score and provide energy off the bench even more.
Rush is an extremely valuable asset to have off the bench because of his defense, his three-point shooting, and his ability to attack the basket. He is the best perimeter defender on the team, even though Klay Thompson has improved significantly defensively. Rush has good size and length, so he can defend wing players, which provides a great complement to Thompson’s ability to guard point guards and shooting guards.
If needed, the Warriors could go small and play a lineup with Curry, Thompson, Rush, Harrison Barnes, and David Lee or Andrew Bogut, or Rush could also come in for defensive purposes and replace Barnes in close-game situations. Rush’s defensive ability would also allow Barnes to focus more on offense, so he doesn’t have to expend too much energy on defense.
Rush is also an incredible three-point shooter, which allows the Warriors to spread the floor with several other three-point shooters such as Stephen Curry and Thompson. Having several three-point shooters on the floor also allows Andrew Bogut and David Lee to have more to operate room in the paint.
Rush is a versatile player who can also attack the basket. He’s one of the most athletic players on the team, next to Barnes. He can easily pump fake his defender on the three-point line and cut to the basket because of his quickness and athleticism.
Curry is arguably the most important player to the Warriors. However, a deep bench and a reliable sixth man are also important for a playoff team. Rush is the athletic, defensive-minded, versatile player that the Warriors lacked this past season. He provides energy off the bench and has a wide array of skills that complement this Warriors team well. Rush is an extremely important player to the Warriors, especially if Jack and Landry don’t return to the Warriors next season.