One of the first duties Steve Kerr assigned himself upon becoming head coach of the Warriors was a lengthy evaluation of his roster, studying players first as individuals and then examining the various combinations.
Who benefits whom? Which groups of players have that intangible quality we call chemistry?
Some conclusions were easily drawn. Starting guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are superb, and they compliment each other at each end.
Starting center Andrew Bogut has a high hoops IQ and is a deceptively creative passer.
Starting power forward David Lee is a poor defender, a good passer but a legitimate asset only if he has his mid-range shot.
Forward Draymond Green is, if Kerr imagined his roster as a tool kit, the WD-40.
Then there are the two rotation players requiring the deepest and most profound analysis: Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes. How to best exploit two men with such different games that happen to play the same position?
Iguodala, the veteran, brings a little bit of everything. His vision, defense and passing are superior. His handle is solid. His shooting is inconsistent, his right knee cranky. Is he best as a catalyst, or as an indispensible member of the supporting cast?
Barnes, the youngster, brings explosive athleticism. No single aspect of his game is extraordinary. He lacks the tools to be a playmaking catalyst or a consistent scorer. He can, however, become a valuable member of the supporting cast.
It became clear to Kerr and his coaching staff that the Warriors almost certainly would be better off if Iguodala and Barnes swapped roles, with Iguodala leading the second unit and Barnes providing accompaniment to the starting lineup.
Iguodala last season sometimes got lost on the court, and he's too useful for that. He's very good without the ball. He may be better with it.
As a starter last season, he was not going to have it very often. With the addition of Shaun Livingston this season, Iguodala might have it even less.
Using Iguodala as the fourth option on offense hardly accentuates his talents.
Barnes as the first option on offense, as he often was with the second unit last season, also does not take advantage of his strengths.
By contrast, Barnes as the fourth option on offense – which is what he would be as a starter – seems to perfectly accentuate his talents.
For one, he's at his best off the ball, mostly because he doesn't have a good handle. For two, he gives the first unit something it doesn't have – a player comfortable soaring above the rim. For three, simply sharing the court with the first unit removes a burden he's not ready to bear.
Barnes clearly regressed last season, and some suspect it was a by-product of acquiring Iguodala.
After starting as a rookie and showing promise, Barnes was dropped into the second unit and asked to be its star. He failed.
Kerr and associate head coach Alvin Gentry would like to avoid putting Barnes in that same situation, even though the bench should be deeper and more talented.
So they're taking a good, long look at Barnes as a starter and Iguodala coming off the bench. And they really, really want this experiment to work because they believe, with good reason, it's the quickest way to maximize the skills of each player – and make the team stronger overall.
It allows everyone in the organization a closer look at Barnes, to determine his value. It allows Iguodala to better preserve his tender knees.
The Warriors are, in essence, asking Iguodala to assume a role similar to that which Manu Ginobili has been for the defending champion Spurs: Be the engine of the second unit but also capable, when necessary, of leading the first unit.
If Kerr decides to make the switch, it's not a demotion for Iguodala or a promotion for Barnes.
It's the simplest way to squeeze out the best for each, thereby enhancing the team as a whole.