It's really weird to think about the Golden State Warriors not only not being in the NBA Draft lottery but also sitting outside the draft altogether.
Yet after listening to Santa Cruz Warriors general manager Kirk Lacob discuss his approach to scouting prospects for the D-League, I started thinking more about the 2013 NBA Draft.
And it was sometime after another ill-advised jumper during the Golden State Warriors second round series with the San Antonio Spurs when I began to think specifically about point guards.
With Jarrett Jack being a free agent that the Warriors are at risk of losing, the point guard spot could be a key position for the team to look at this offseason. So during the Spurs series, I contacted Jonathan Tjarks of SB Nation to see if he'd be interesting in sharing some insight that would help me focus my attention a bit as I looked for prospects that might potentially be of interest to a) Golden State should they try to buy into the draft or b) Santa Cruz if a potential diamond in the rough goes undrafted (similar to Kent Bazemore or Scott Machado, both of whom finished the season on Golden State's roster).
It has to be noted that all of this was set in motion before Warriors owner Joe Lacob's proclamation yesterday that the Warriors are interested in acquiring a first round pick if it becomes available: I was focused primarily on the idea of the Warriors grabbing a second round prospect, which would be a cheaper non-guaranteed prospect, who they could maybe bring along with some D-League experience as we saw them attempt this year with Bazemore, Machado, or Jeremy Tyler. And, I figured, reality is that the Warriors are probably not going to be able to go out and easily obtain a pick to get an elite prospect anyway.
So this Q&A with Tjarks sort of began with that as its premise to frame a specific overarching question: if the Warriors want to aggressively find insurance at point guard through the draft, what prospects might fall through the cracks a bit and be available in the latter parts of the draft or go undrafted and be candidates for the D-League?
1. GSoM: What do you see as positive indicators for a NBA point guard prospect, whether that be something you look for in watching games or in a player's statistics?
Jonathan Tjarks: The first thing I look for with any player, regardless of position, is whether they have any holes in their game. Can they create their own shot? How much range do they have on their jumper? Can they make plays for others? Can they hold their own defensively and on the glass? That affects the types of players they can play with.
The main difference with PG's is that it's very hard to get away with a poor decision maker at the position. They have to be able to control the tempo of the game and understand when to look for their own shot vs. setting everyone else up. There isn't one stat that tells you whether a guy can manage that balance, but assist-to-turnover is always the first one I look at with a college PG.
2. GSoM: The Warriors don't have any draft picks, but could find themselves in need of a point guard if they can't re-sign Jarrett Jack. If you were the Warriors GM and were looking to maybe buy/trade into the draft to grab a PG who might fit, what players might you target and what range in the draft do you think they'd be available?
JT: Jack is a good fit in Golden State b/c he has the size to let Curry play off the ball. So if I was targeting a backup PG in the draft, I'd look at two of the bigger guys who should be available in the 25-40 range: Lorenzo Brown (6'5", 190) of NC State and Ray McCallum, Jr. (6'2", 190) of Detroit (Mercy). Brown is the better defensive player and McCallum is the better shooter, but I expect both will have long careers in the NBA.
3. GSoM: Do you think there are players - point guards in particular - who might be considered fringe second round picks who are being undervalued and might be able to develop as project players in D-League?
JT: Absolutely. There are every year. There are more NBA-caliber athletes at PG than any other position, just because the physical demands (read: height) of the position aren't as intense.
Here are four PG's in the mid-second round range who I think could make the league on the right team: Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Pierre Jackson (Baylor), Phil Pressey (Missouri) and Nate Wolters (South Dakota State). Of the bunch, Canaan is the best scorer, Jackson is the best athlete, Pressey is the best passer and Wolters is the best shooter.
Beyond that, there are plenty of guys who have the physical tools but don't quite have the seasoning to play in the NBA just yet. Patrick Beverley is an example of a guy who needed a few years overseas before he was ready.
DraftExpress video analysis of 6'4" point guard Nate Wolters. Click here for the full DX profile.
4. GSoM: Scott Machado is a player who the Warriors obviously found and liked this past season, but how do you think he would compare to this year's point guard class? Are there potentially undrafted or late-round players who could beat him out?
JT: I liked Machado a lot coming out of college; I had him as the No. 2 PG in the draft last year, but last year was also a really weak year for PG's. If I was rating Machado in this year's class, he'd be in the 7-10 range probably. In looking at his D-League stats, the one thing that stands out is the FG% and 3P%. If he's going to make it in the NBA, he's going to have to be a consistent shooter.
5. GSoM: Beyond point guards, are there guys projected as second round or fringe draft picks who you think might be flying under the radar a bit and worth hoping the Warriors can grab somehow, whether for Summer League or the D-League?
JT: Going back to my answer to No. 3, I think in general people underestimate the amount of quality basketball players in the world. There are over 300+ D1 teams; even in the 21rst century, it's easy for guys to slip through the cracks. Before they came into the NBA, I wouldn't have been able to pick Gary Neal and Chris Copeland out of a hat. There are guys who can help the Warriors who won't be drafted, just like there are guys overseas who could help them tomorrow.
I just scrolled through DraftExpress Top 100; there are over a dozen guys from 50-100 who I think could help an NBA team in the right situation. One guy who I really am surprised hasn't received more publicity is Brandon Davies from BYU. He's got great size (6'10 240 with a 7'2" wingspan), the athletic ability to play the 4 and the ability to play with his back to basket or face you up.
For more on the 2013 NBA Draft, check out SB Nation's draft section.