The Golden State Warriors are not only set up to win now, but also have the most to gain from Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery.
The Warriors will very likely have the No. 14 pick in the 2021 draft after faltering in the NBA play-in tournament and missing the playoffs. That seems significant until realizing the Dubs could another get a top-10 pick if things break their way.
Golden State acquired a top-three protected pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the D’Angelo Russell trade in February 2020. The T-Wolves have a 27.6 percent chance of chance of landing somewhere in the top three picks, otherwise it will be converted to the Warriors.
This could be a massive boon to the Warriors, a team that stands just about everything to gain from the pick being converted.
For starters, if the pick does indeed go to Golden State, there is a very good chance it will be at No. 4 or No. 5. Landing in the top five could give the Warriors ideal odds at landing a couple top prospects who might be ideal fits in the Bay Area.
Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham is essentially a shoo-in to go No. 1 overall. After that, though, the draft is a bit of a mystery.
Common consensus has USC big man Evan Mobley, G League Ignite standout Jalen Green and Gonzaga Bulldogs point guard Jalen Suggs following Cunningham in some order, though Florida State’s Scottie Barnes appears to be building some steam.
Green and Suggs in particular would be interesting fits for the Warriors. Green is an explosive, three-level scorer with tremendous athleticism and good length. Golden State could basically pass on re-signing Kelly Oubre with the understanding Green could fill the role of a hyper-athletic swingman who can provide a scoring punch.
Suggs might be an even better asset. His excellence on the ball and creating off dribble-drives would take pressure off Stephen Curry to consistently act as the team’s primary ball-handler. Suggs should also continue to develop as a perimeter shooter and moves very well off the ball, two skills that are vital in Golden State’s offensive system.
So, the Warriors have a decent chance of landing two possible stars who are also strong fits for the current roster. Even if the pick falls out of the top five, however, the Dubs have options.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report spoke to a number of executives who suggested Golden State might hope to package their picks, with James Wiseman possibly factoring into the mix. The Warriors have yet to suggest they will consider trade alternatives for 2020 No. 2 pick, but they might have to consider it if doing so would net them a strong package.
The reality is the Warriors cannot really wait for Wiseman to develop. They are trying to build for the future, yes, but are also desperate to win now and maximize the rest of Curry’s, Klay Thompson’s and Draymond Green’s respective prime years. There is even more pressure in a reloaded Western Conference.
One executive told Fischer that Wiseman “hasn’t played basketball long enough.” That’s an opinion, of course, but it reflects his career arc. The Nashville native was a top preps prospect before an NCAA ruling eventually resulted in him leaving Memphis. Wiseman showed flashes in his rookie season, but also missed a lot of time due to injury and is coming off a torn meniscus.
There are a lot of unknowns there, perhaps too many for the Warriors as they try to get back to the top of the basketball world. The potential for them to get yet another high first could serve as an outlet to package Wiseman for possible assets that would have a greater impact on the roster in 2021-22.
It’s worth noting teams like the Orlando Magic also have plenty to gain. The Magic are already projected to land a top-five pick and will also get the Chicago Bulls’ first-round choice if the Bulls fail to jump into the top four.
Still, the Magic are a team building for the future. The Warriors are built to win now, which is why there are greater consequences should they obtain that extra first-round pick from the Timberwolves.