We're a day away from the most exciting day of the summer. The NBA DRAFT! The MLB all-star game, bbqs in the park, summer flings and 4th of July got nothing on this!
To talk about this exceptional day and its impact on our Golden State Warriors this year, we asked Tim Kawakami, one of the contemporary pillars of bay area sports reporting, for his insights on what might be brewing for our Warriors. For those unfamiliar with Tim Kawakami's archive, he currently writes for the San Jose Mercury and provides further sports commentary on his blog, Talking Points: Tim Kawakami on Bay Area Sports.
Hear more what Kawakami has to say at jump.
GSoM: NBA draft specialists speculate based on their sources that young teams like the Sonics and Blazers are looking to trade their lottery draft slots for veteran presence to help guide/lead their youth movement. The Warriors, too, are a relatively young team. Do you see the Warriors following in a similar move and trading away their pick for a player or players that might contribute right away?
Kawakami: I don't think the Warriors know for sure which way they're going--unless you're at 1 or 2, you don't know how things are going to go draft night; at 14, there's no possibility except by wild guess. Wild guessing isn't encouraged for NBA franchises.
So Mullin has to wait to see if the guy they want happens to surprisingly last to 14 (say, Joe Alexander or Anthony Randolph). If they wait to 14 and are uncomfortable with the options (say, choice between Jason Thompson, Brandon Rush and Donte Greene), maybe then Mullin and Nelson try to peddle the TE plus the pick either for a proven veteran or a later pick (to get Thompson or someone else).
The point: I think the Warriors, coming off of a 48-win season, with an old coach and a moody point guard, can go a lot of ways. Project draft pick (Randolph?) to seal up the long-term hopes; immediate-help draft pick (Greene?) to try to get over the hump for Nellie's last campaign; trade back (for Thompson?), trade up (for Westbrook/Love/Alexander?), trade the pick for a veteran to really go for it this season...
And they're not going to know the best option until the 13th pick happens and they're on the clock. All we can do is guess the likeliest possibilities, and I'd say it's to make their pick at 14 with an eye to the future (I've been saying Randolph) and then maybe try to use the TE to get back into the teens for a shot at a Nellie-style big man (Thompson). Just a wild guess and wild guesses are almost always wrong.
GSoM: The Warriors have struggled to get consistent offensive and defensive production from the frontcourt. Most mock drafts show the Warriors and most teams in the late lottery choosing from a wide range of big men in the 4 and 5 positions. Though these positions are a major issue for the Warriors, so is the backup point guard position considering Baron Davis' contractual and health issues. How likely is it that the Warriors will try to shore up their backup point guard position somewhere and somehow during draft day? Or do see the Warriors finding one through free agency?
Kawakami: Just don't see a point guard prospect at 14 that'd be worth it--Rose and Westbrook will be long gone and Augustin is just too small to pair with Monta Ellis. I think Mullin is looking for a future point guard, but not necessarily with this pick. It's a tough spot, because, if he's committed to Ellis at the combo-two, Mullin needs a bigger guard who can handle and those don't come around every draft. That's a long hunt, I think. There's a chance they keep trying to see if Belinelli can do some of it.
GSoM: David West, Paul Milsap, Jason Maxiell, and even Brandon Bass have all dominated the Warriors frontcourt at some time during the past season. These muscular, athletic, scoring but slightly undersized fours have become quite a trend in the NBA as of late. Is there someone in the draft like these players that will be available at #14 and of potential interest to the Warriors? How likely is it that the Warriors will try to find a player of these skillsets that can match up defensively AND offensively? Ike Diogu doesn't count or does he?
Kawakami: Under-sized, aggressive power forwards. Yeah, I like 'em, too, but I'm not sure the Nelson/Mullin regime will ever buy into that style of player and I'm not even counting the experience with Diogu, who was under-sized and under-talented and under-aggressive and underwhelming, whatever the pace of play.
Marreese Speights or J.J. Hickson probably are the prime examples of that kind of energy forward, and maybe Robin Lopez as a bigger, less skilled version. I just don't see the Warriors going in that direction when they already have Biedrins and Wright on board as non-shooters who fit the Nellie system better as runner/slashers.
Don believes in spacing. He believes in taking advantage of other teams' weak offensive players. On the flip side, he insists on having at least four versatile scoring options on the floor at all times and I think that's a sacrifice--ideally, he'd want five scoring options, but has accepted Biedrins/Wright at one of those spots. A raw muscle forward... I just don't see that working on this team, unless the guy can shoot 15-footers, and you don't get muscle forward who can shoot at 14.
The Warriors' regime believes in skill. Jump-shooting. Ball-handling. High-speed movement (that rules out O'Bryant and did rule out Diogu and Murphy). For every position. If the GSWs luck into the next Millsap or Maxiell along the way, I think they'd be fine with that. But they're not going to pick a raw Millsap Jr. just for the hell of it and pray he has a jump shot down the line.
GSoM: A major chunk of the Warriors roster is incredibly young- Brandan Wright (20), Patrick O'Bryant (21), Monta Ellis (22), Marco Belinelli (22), and Andris Biedrins (22), Kosta Perovic (23). Let's pretend these 6 players were coming out in this year's draft. Where do you think they'd get picked (if at all)?
Kawakami: For the purposes of this very good question, I'll pretend that O'Bryant is still part of the Warriors' plans, but we know that he isn't. Or if he comes back, Nellie will make him an assistant PR guy.
If all those guys were in THIS draft, which is a hard thing to do since we know so much more about the Warriors players than we do the draft picks... I'd say...
-ELLIS would go right about where Jerryd Bayless is projected, anywhere from 6 to 9. Similar scoring/driving skills. Bayless is bigger and stronger. Neither are NBA point guards.
-WRIGHT... The Warriors think he'd go No. 3, which I think is too high, but if Brandan had gone back to Carolina and then came out this year, I'd say he'd be right behind Kevin Love and maybe ahead of/equal to Gallinari, maybe 6 to 11.
-BIEDRINS... Another tough one since we know what he is in the NBA and we don't know about the draft prospects yet we know many of the draft guys will do as well or better than Andris. So I'll put Biedrins at 11 to 16, on par with or slightly behind DeAndre Jordan but ahead of the McGee/Arthur/Speights/R Lopez/Koufos big man grouping.
-BELINELLI went 18 last year, didn't see much of him as rookie, so he's easily translatable to anywhere from 19 to 28. I'd put him behind Donte Greene in the shooter category, but maybe the Warriors wouldn't. So maybe 14 for Belinelli in this draft, just 'cause they loved him so much last year.
-O'BRYANT... OK, gotta strip away some of what we know or think we know about him or what Nellie thinks about him... I'd say on pure skills and size, POB would be a back-end 1st-rounder, maybe right there with Speights/McGee or slightly behind them. McGee is a good barometer, since he seems like a slightly more athletic version of POB.
-PEROVIC was a 2nd rounder two years ago. He'd be a late-2nd-rounder now.
GSoM thanks Tim Kawakami for his time and thoughts on this yearly event.