The Warriors dived into summer with two primary priorities, knowing all the while accomplishing the first could ruin their best chance at the second. They could not have expected such stunning success with both.
They first acquired Kevin Durant, who represented priorities A through Y.
And then, somehow, after winning that epic KD pursuit, the Warriors were able to retrench and fill out their roster with a bench that should be as good, if not better, than what previously existed.
Adding Durant speaks for itself. He’s a terrific defender who happens to be the most comprehensively productive offensive player in the NBA. Along with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors have cornered the market on pure-shooting teammates. If you can get KD, you take your chances with the rest of the roster.
Which is why the rebuilding of the bench, though one player away from completion, has been even more impressive.
With Durant’s salary leaving so little left in the budget, there were concerns among the fan base that the Warriors might have 10 mannequins backing up the gold-plated stars. Those fears ought to be gone.
The most utilized player off the bench, Andre Iguodala, will be back, as will the second-most utilized bench player, Shaun Livingston. They are the team’s most indispensable reserves and their roles will be the same.
Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights, generally the first two big men off the bench, stand to be replaced by rookie center Damian Jones and veteran power forward David West. Jones is, at least initially, a downgrade; he likely won’t play before Thanksgiving. West generally is an upgrade over Speights, superior in most every way except 3-point shooting and drawing charges. He’ll never be as popular as Mo, but that’s another matter.
The third and fourth big men off the bench, Anderson Varejao and James Michael McAdoo, are back. Status quo here, except McAdoo should be at least marginally improved.
The third- and fourth-most active players off the bench -- in terms of minutes played -- were Brandon Rush and Leandro Barbosa. They stand to be replaced by youngsters Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw. If Looney answers some significant physical questions, and the Warriors believe he can, he’ll provide at least as much as Rush did. McCaw as a rookie will be a better defender than Barbosa, whose greatest asset, the occasional scoring burst, won’t be missed as much with Durant on hand.
The last guard off the bench, Ian Clark, is replaced by, well, another year of Ian Clark. Like McAdoo, Clark should benefit from having had another a year in the league and a full season on the roster.
Starting center Andrew Bogut, who played the fewest minutes of any starter -- also fewer than Iguodala and Livingston -- is out, with Zaza Pachulia filling the vacancy. Pachulia likely will start.
The starters presumably are Curry, Durant, Green, Pachulia and Thompson.
The first three off the bench presumably are Iguodala, Livingston and West.
The next four: Clark, McAdoo, Varejao and Looney (health permitting).
That leaves Jones and McCaw, the rookies, to find their way.
And, oh yeah, the Warriors still have one more spot on the roster.
Coach Steve Kerr often cited the team’s depth as one of the keys to its success. That should continue.
The loss of six players -- Harrison Barnes, Barbosa, Bogut, Ezeil, Rush and Speights -- didn’t leave the Warriors reeling. To the contrary, their reconstituted bench is by most metrics better.
The Warriors this summer made a series of moves that leaves the roster, on the whole, at least as good as it was last season. It may be better. It most certainly will be if the 21-and-under crowd -- Looney, Jones and McCaw -- can make an impact.