With the Golden State Warriors on the brink of their fourth NBA title in five years, there is no doubt that they have been the most dominant team in the past half decade. While they still have to hold off a very serious contender in the Toronto Raptors in the Finals, the Dubs are still considered to be the heavy favorites to achieve the elusive three-peat.
Nonetheless, it’s going to be a a very interesting summer for the Warriors. Kevin Durant will be entering free agency, and many believe that he will be playing elsewhere next season. The other half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson, is himself also going to be an unrestricted free agent, and while he is expected to sign an extension with Golden State, anything can still happen.
This offseason will definitely have a tremendous impact on the Warriors’ immediate future, which is why it is necessary for them to make all the right moves. While Durant’s and Thompson’s decisions may be out of their hands, what they full control over is their pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
The Warriors will be selecting at the No. 28 spot, and while they are not expected to get the chance to pick a franchise-altering prospect, the player they choose might still prove to have a significant impact in the team’s makeup moving forward. This being the case, we’ve identified three potential picks that we feel the Dubs should consider at No. 28.
Aside from the aforementioned duo of Durant and Thompson, four-time All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins will also become a free agent in the summer. Now recovered from a career-threatening Achilles injury, it is likely that he will be looking for a bigger payday this summer — one that the Warriors might not be able to give him.
Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell, the team’s other two centers, are also on expiring deals, which means that the Warriors frontcout might have a completely different look next season.
This is where Maryland sophomore center Bruno Fernando comes in, who is arguably the best big man that might be available at the No. 28 pick. His explosiveness and athleticism will allow him to fit right in with the Warriors’ style of play, and he does have the potential to take the starting center spot in his rookie year, if it is indeed available for the taking.
Fernando averaged 13.6 points (on 60.7 percent shooting), 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks in his final season with Maryland.
If Thompson ends up taking his talents to Hollywood or to any other team other than the Warriors, then the Dubs will need some help in the backcourt. Lugentz Dort, a freshman coming out of Arizona State, should be able to help fill the void left by Thompson. Even if Klay decides to extend his stay in Oakland, Dort can still prove to be a useful piece in head coach Steve Kerr’s rotation.
Dort, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard that weighs in a 220 lbs, is probably the strongest player in his position in the entire draft pool. His aggression and fearlessness will work in his favor, as he looks to have the potential to become a reliable two-way player for the Dubs.
Finally, the Warriors should also have a look at sophomore wingman KZ Okpala. The 6-foot-8 Stanford standout possesses a very promising offensive skill set. The 20-year-old averaged 16.8 points (on 46.3 percent shooting), 1.1 three-pointers, and 2.0 assists last season. Okpala also logged 5.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 29 appearances for Stanford, which shows that he can also be useful on the defensive end.
Some mock drafts are projecting that the Brooklyn Nets will be picking Okpala at No. 27, but if he is still available for the Warriors at No. 28, then he should require some serious consideration from the Dubs.
With such a star-studded line-up, the truth of the matter is that whoever the Warriors decide to select in the draft might not be given significant minutes in their debut campaign. Their playing time likely won’t be enough for them to make a considerable impact for the team.
However, any three of the players above should still be able to provide the Warriors with a spark off the bench when called upon. Golden State have a track record of bringing out the best out of their young guys despite their limited run, so the case should be the same for their rookie next season.