If you're anything like me, you didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about the Golden State Warriors' options in the 2014 NBA Draft because, well, they don't have a pick and are limited in their options to find one this year.
So when Kevin O'Connor got in touch about doing a Q&A, I gladly got together a few questions to catch up a bit before tomorrow's draft. Kevin is a contributor to SB Nation's Celtics Blog and author of a very detailed NBA Draft Guide, which you can buy for any price you want. It's a really easy-to-read guide with some good commentary about undervalued prospects. Today, we look at some of his specific thoughts about the Warriors: who might fit their roster, whether it's worth pursuing a first round pick, and who might be the team's next undrafted diamond in the rough.
Q&A with Kevin O'Connor
1. GSoM: Some of the guys we've been discussing as potential targets for the Warriors are Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine and James Young. In your breakdown of the Warriors' team needs, you also have seven additional perimeter players: Cleanthony Early, Glenn Robinson III, LaQuinton Ross, Isaiah Sykes, Xavier Thames, Kendrick Perry, Semaj Christon.
So of those four perimeter players we're thinking about - or the seven you mentioned in your guide - which of them stand out to you as guys we should definitely have on our wish list?
Kevin O'Connor: I think it'll be difficult for the Warriors to trade in and acquire James Young or any of the three UCLA players - unless Jordan Adams slips to the early second round, which is always a possibility. I don't think Kyle Anderson will fall like some expect him too though, and some team is going to try to snatch Zach LaVine early. Golden State just doesn't have enough tradeable assets to realistically get in.
Of those, Glenn Robinson III could very well be a steal; he was a late bloomer in high school, but he never got a chance to bloom in college. I think Steve Kerr could really bring out the best in him in that he is a solid all-around player who will probably be able to develop a three-point stroke.
2. GSoM: I noticed that you have Spencer Dinwiddie ranked ahead of all of those guys - and wrote extensively about him being a better prospect than LaVine in your guide. So are there any other players that you feel are flying under the radar a bit (based on the popular mock drafts) who might fit the Warriors' roster if they could find a way to trade into the draft?
KOC: Golden State clearly likes larger combo guards to backup Stephen Curry - they had Jarrett Jack do it perfectly a few years ago and Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford tried to fill that role last year. Of course, they drafted Nemanja Nedovic last year, but having another player would be helpful. With that said, I look at players like Dinwiddie, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson as ideal fits for that role since all three are borderline first round draft picks.
Dinwiddie is the #7 guard on my big board and arguably would've been higher had he not torn his ACL. He's an extremely creative scorer who can get anywhere with the ball, but it's his ability to "think the game" that makes me believe he will find success in the NBA. His 6-foot-6 height with the skill to slide in and play either guard positions is also an ideal fit for Golden State's offense.
Bogdanovic had a successful year playing for Partizan in the Adriatic League and is the type of player who could provide a spark off the bench, though he might not be reliable enough as a true point guard just yet. Look at him more like a poor man's Manu Ginobili - and stress on the "poor man's" - because of his tenacious style as well as his outside shooting stroke.
And then Jordan Clarkson could be a good fit because of his exceptional pick-and-roll abilities. He can penetrate the lane with ease as he uses advanced dribble moves to get where he wants and he can also pull up and pop off shots from mid-range. Teams would like to see him improve from three-point range, but he has natural touch and it's only his form that needs fixing.
3. GSoM: As it turns out, we did some experimenting with Harrison Barnes' trade value during the SBN Blogger Draft and the highest pick we were able to get was #24. We waited to see if anyone fell and Jordan Adams did, so we had the fake Warriors draft him.
While we were doing that, it came out that the real Warriors are also looking to trade Barnes for a first round pick. So...is Barnes too much to give up for the type of guy the Warriors would be able to get? And how would you grade the trade we made? We'll take your most honest assessment. :)
KOC: I'm not a big fan of Harrison Barnes and tend to agree with one of your writers/members, Evanz, who thinks he'll be close to worthless in a few seasons. That's not to say he won't have some value as a role player, but if you're going to trade him, now's the time to do it.
I certainly don't think Barnes is too much to give for a pick at any point in this year's first round. In fact, I'd call it a good trade for Golden State if they were able to snatch a pick in the 20s for Barnes. Sure, there's still a chance he could pan out, but you're getting a quality player with an equal chance at that spot too. If he is traded, fans can't look at it like, "We traded the 7th pick in 2012 for the 25th pick in 2014!" because they are two totally different drafts separated by two years of development (or lack thereof) for Barnes.
4. GSoM: Another need you mentioned in your guide was a stretch four and Adreian Payne was the guy we had on our short list as a good target for the Warriors. I think most people are pretty much in agreement about Payne's value, but it didn't seem like there were a whole lot of other stretchy options after him.
Looking into the projected second rounders who might be easier to obtain, who are some of the additional bigs that Warriors fans should keep an eye on?
KOC: No doubt, Adreian Payne would be a terrific fit for Golden State, and of course there's the dream of adding Kevin Love, but there are a handful of quality options in the second round or undrafted free agency.
The first guy that really comes to mind is Baylor's Cory Jefferson. He only attempted 50 threes in his career but I really like his form and think he's worth a flyer. Putting him through Golden State's terrific development system could really help him speed up his mechanics, making him more of a threat in the pick-and-pop. He brings so much else to the game in terms of energy, rebounding, and athleticism; he's really just missing the seasoning necessary to be a solid role player.
Then there's Shayne Whittington and Alec Brown, who will both most likely go undrafted. Brown is a knockdown spot up shooter, as he drilled 42.4 percent of his threes the past two years. He has outstanding mechanics and gets the ball out quick. The only problem is that he doesn't do much else besides shoot and I'm not sure if he'll be able to defend or rebound at the next level despite being a 7-footer. Whittington is a weird one because his percentages were terrible in college, but I absolutely love his stroke. Very smooth, the game looks natural to him on the perimeter. He's exactly the type of guy you bring in and hope he figures it out.
Lastly are two tweener forward who probably don't qualify as true bigs, but might play some stretch four in the right system: Jerrelle Benimon and Mike Moser. I think Benimon is one of the most underrated players in the entire draft and I have him in my top 60. He does it all as a player in terms of his rebounding, passing, and energy. Most importantly, he really improved as a shooter during his senior year. His release looked much quicker and I think playing a lesser role would only help his percentages. And then Moser is a guy who has been to three schools and has fought through a lot of fluke injuries during his college career. He's a really good kid who will work hard and do a lot of the little things, but for the Warriors he could fit in nicely as a backup stretch big.
GSoM: Speaking of guys who might not go drafted, the Warriors have been pretty good at identifying undrafted guys who can contribute at some level of the organization over the last two years: Kent Bazemore became an instant cult classic after going undrafted in 2012, Ian Clark was summer league MVP after going undrafted in 2013, and Seth Curry became a star in Santa Cruz last season while earning a few call-ups.
Who might be the diamond in the rough this year who we should keep an eye on after the draft as summer league or D-League prospects? Are there any who the team has already worked out that might be particularly likely to fall out of the draft?
KOC: Summer League All-Stars are so fun, aren't they? Once again, I think there could be a few in store this year judging from the players they've worked out. A few names stick out to me, which makes me believe they're looking for an "energy" guy: Ovie Soko, Nick Wiggins, Okaro White, Eric Moreland, and Akil Mitchell are all fringe draft picks but bring many of the same tools as guys that will fly around the floor and play with reckless abandon.
White is a tweener forward out of Florida State who the Warriors worked White out earlier this month and I think he'd be a great fit as a defensive specialist because of his energy and attitude on the defensive end. The issue is that he's currently a liability on offense since his shot is so underdeveloped. But if he develops a spot up jumper, that's all you need to fit in the Warriors' offense.
Then there's Moreland, who never really figured it out in college and got suspended twice, but he's a big man with guard skills. He's just a terrific athlete who battles hard on the defensive end by blocking shots and hustling for loose balls, but it's like he's a chicken with its head cut off considering he has such a poor basketball IQ. Maybe the right situation will help him figure things out.
But of all the players Golden State has worked out, there is no better fit than Travis Bader, the NCAA's All-Time leader in three-pointers. Is there anything else that needs to be said? We're talking about one of the best shooting teams in the NBA with Steve Kerr as the head coach. If Golden State signs Bader, which they should, then it could be a match made in heaven as long as he's able to develop enough as an adequate man-to-man defender. He's not going to do much else besides shoot the ball, but at the very least, he'd provide some excitement from long range during the Summer League. I think he could crack an NBA rotation after some time in the D-League.
We'd like to thank Kevin for his insights. You can check out his draft guide via the post at Celtics Blog.
Who do you think the Warriors should target? Let us know in the comments below.