Matt Barnes offered up some simple advice Thursday to Warriors guards Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. on how to fill the void left by Klay Thompson, who sustained a season-ending torn Achilles in November.
"They need to be themselves," Barnes said on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto and Kolsky" show. "Coming in with the mindset to replace Klay, I think that’s the wrong idea."
Why so? Barnes quickly elaborated.
"You can’t replace someone like Klay," Barnes said. "Klay is one of the best two-way players in the game -- one of the greatest shooters we’ve ever seen and we know what he does on the defensive end.
"Being the best versions of Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre is what they need to do, and I think that’s what they’re focused on," Barnes added.
When news broke about Thompson's right Achilles tendon tear, Golden State was quick to trade for Oubre, dealing a protected 2021 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the 25-year-old. While Thompson's injury devastated the Warriors organization -- as well as the fanbase -- Golden State is optimistic that the combined play of Oubre and Wiggins can help make up for the loss in the starting lineup.
Barnes honed in on Wiggins specifically when asked about the changes that need to be made. According to Barnes, there’s ‘less pressure’ on Wiggins, which could result in better performances.
“He’s always had to be ‘that guy,’ ” Barnes said. "But in this situation, he may be the third or fourth option. I think the pressure is off him.
While Thompson is one of the purest shooters in the league, both Oubre and Wiggins have the capability to make up his offensive production. In Thompson's last full season, the five-time NBA All-Star averaged 21.5 points per game. In 56 games for the Phoenix Suns last year, Oubre averaged 18.7 points. In 12 games for Golden State, Wiggins averaged 19.4 points.
It's Thompson's defensive prowess that will require Wiggins and Oubre to step up, and that's something that Barnes believes the two are fully aware of.
"[Wiggins] and Oubre are going to have to be lock-down wings," Barnes said. "That’s where they’re really going to need to pick it up."
So far, the two seem to be passing the eye test. In the Warriors' final preseason matchup against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, Oubre, Wiggins and Steph Curry combined for 70 points as the game's top three scorers. Oubre was good for 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, and Wiggins put up 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while racking up four rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Golden State won the contest, 113-105.
The two will get their first official test on Dec. 22, with Golden State slated to begin the season against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on NBA Opening Night.