One of the most intriguing and exciting aspects of the upcoming Warriors season is seeing what surprises the rookies Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli, and Stephane Lasme have in store for us. It's really not that big of a stretch to say that the Warriors' playoff chances heavily depend on this trio's collective production.
We've all seen the many highlight clips, but the GSoM crew wanted to find out more- much more about these three rooks. So we decided to talk to the man of draft scouting himself- Jonathan Givony the President of DraftExpress, the premier web destination for year-round NBA draft coverage and scouting.
Jonathan and Aran Smith from NBADraft.net were recently featured in the Sports Illustrated piece Catching the Draft: How two gurus have found niche with NBA Draft sites that's definitely worth a good read. It's really amazing how much influence their two sites have:
Ten thousand words seems like overkill, but in reality the mock drafts and scouting reports compiled by Givony's crew and his top independent competitor, NBADraft.net's Aran Smith, will be devoured by a much wider audience than anyone's in the mainstream media -- except perhaps ESPN's Chad Ford, a draft expert who began his career outside the mainstream with Sportstalk.com, a site acquired by ESPN.com in 2001.
Many of the same major newspapers who covered the predraft camp will likely, over the course of the next two weeks, reference Givony and Smith's projections in print. By serving up year-round mocks of the next two NBA Drafts -- and thus serving as a launching point for talk of who's over or underrated -- it's not a stretch to say DraftExpress and NBADraft.net set the terms for much of the public discourse on the draft. It's also evident their readership extends beyond journalists and armchair draft enthusiasts.
Both DraftExpress and NBADraft.net are visited, at the very least for reference material, by a sizable number of NBA decision-makers. Not the old school GMs, necessarily, but definitely by their tech-savvy underlings and scouts. Said one Eastern Conference evaluator, "It's not like we're on the clock on draft night, scrambling, and then saying, 'Who does NBADraft.net say we should take?' That would be ridiculous. That would mean we aren't doing our jobs. But do I look at their mocks? For sure."
Agents concerned with their clients' draft stock tend to closely monitor the two sites' ratings, and representatives or trainers often invite Givony or Smith to private workouts in hopes of generating additional buzz. The prospects themselves read DraftExpress and NBADraft.net too; Givony said agent Justin Zanik recently informed him one of his clients, French forward Ali Traore, was literally crying because he had been dropped out of DraftExpress' second round.
I want to add that I have the utmost respect for Jonathan. He has the entrepreneurial spirit and passion that's driving Web 2.0. Jonathan understands that hoops junkies like us aren't just content with a short blurb about NBA prospects right before draft time in late June. We want the type of excellent round the clock coverage that his spot provides with their sharp hoops insights mixed in.
Here's our recent exchange with Jonathan about rookie power forward Brandan Wright of UNC with more of his research and thoughts on Marco Belinelli, Stephane Lasme, and the much hyped 2007 NBA Draft class to follow. Trust me, you'll love this!
What does Jonathan think about the JRich trade and rookie big man Brandan Wright?
Did the Warriors Do the Wright Thing in the trade with the Bobcats?
(Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty)
Make the jump to find out!
Golden State of Mind: Warriors Nation was stunned when the team pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Jason Richardson to the Charlotte Bobcats for talented UNC power forward Brandan Wright and a $10 million trade exception. It's been widely rumored that Wright was just a means to an end (Kevin Garnett or even Yi Jianlian) especially since the Warriors reportedly never even brought him in for a predraft workout. How much truth is there in these rumors? Did the Warriors really not bring him in for a workout? If they didn't, do you think they scouted him properly to justify pulling off a blockbuster deal of this sort that didn't lead to KG? Was this a good deal for the Warriors and Bobcats?
Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress): The fact that the Warriors never brought him in for a workout is true. But it's actually not surprising in the least bit, since guys who are projected as top-10 picks almost never work out for teams that are outside of their range, unless they are heavily rumored to be involved in trades to move up--which the Warriors really weren't. Even though the Warriors didn't work him out, I am sure they still scouted him during the season...it's not like UNC was a tough team to catch or anything. A guy like him, though, I personally would have liked to bring in just to interview and conduct some personality assessments (for example, teams such as the Suns do with companies like the BBIQ), just to make sure you know what's going on underneath the hood there before you take such a big step backwards to acquire him like the Warriors did.
Skill-wise, there really aren't that many question marks about Wright. He has all-star potential for sure. The question about him is mentally, whether he has the heart and especially the drive to reach his potential. Not quite as bad, but similar to the question marks people had about Patrick O'Bryant.
About whether or not this was a good deal for the Warriors...I personally don't. There's a lot to be said for financial flexibility, and the luxury tax, and all that jazz, but from a talent standpoint, the Warriors took a huge step backwards, which makes very little sense to me considering last year's success, and Baron Davis' age, etc. I think the Warriors are going to rue the day they passed up on Joakim Noah for Brandan Wright too.
That's just my opinion, though. We will find out soon enough!
Golden State of Mind: With the Warriors' frenetic up and down style of play, it seems that the best fit for the team would be an athletic big man long enough to block shots and rebound, while skilled enough to create scoring opportunities with/without the ball in his hands. Outside of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, was Brandan Wright the best fit for the Warriors or would Al Horford, Yi Jianlian, or Joakim Noah have been better?
Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress): There is no question in my mind that Noah was the best fit. None at all. Horford would have been great too, but he obviously was off the board at #3 already. I spoke to someone in the Bulls front office this week (just to catch up, not for an article), and he was effusive in his praise of Noah, saying how far ahead he is of other rookies they've had in the past. Not sure if that was a jab at Tyrus Thomas or not, but that's a pretty big compliment considering the type of rookies they've had in the past few years (Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, Nocioni come to mind).
Golden State of Mind: Considering some of the rumors surrounding Wright and his mysterious injury this summer, do you think the Warriors' acquisition of Wright in the draft still functions as a long term investment in flexibility -- cap or otherwise? Is it too soon to say that Mullin/Nellie have already seen the ceiling with last season's team and are preparing for any potential crises in the future (coaching changes even?) by stock piling as much talent as possible? How highly regarded is Wright as a big man prospect in this league?
Jonathan Givony (DraftExpress): Trading away your second best player for a project definitely is a long-term investment--for better or for worse. I really think this was a move made for financial purposes. Before the trade, Golden State was going to be over the luxury tax, and now, they aren't. It's a sad reality that a lot of NBA teams are going through right now. Look at Phoenix for example. There are others too--Seattle, Washington, New Jersey--teams with GMs that have been handcuffed by their luxury tax-fearing owners.
How highly regarded is Wright as a big man prospect? I think he is highly regarded, but get back to me after we begin to see how he makes the transition to the NBA and we'll have a much better idea.
POB Part II- say it ain't so! Let's hope playing in front of the Roaracle Arena every night ignites a fire under Wright. It looks like there's an All Star deep down inside waiting to be untapped by Nellie.
Joakim Noah a great fit for the Dubs? Hmmm... I honestly wasn't sold on him being anything more than an average pro at the time of the 2k7 NBA Draft, but with Jonathan's rave reviews for Noah you can sure bet I'll be tracking him very closely this season.
Also check out Brandan Wright's DraftExpress Profile