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2017 NBA Draft: How and why to watch even though the Warriors don’t have a pick

The 2017 NBA Draft begins tonight at 4 p.m. PST on ESPN and we’re going to watch even though the Warriors don’t have a pick.

NBA: Stephen Curry MVP Press Conference Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re sick of reading horrible basketball takes on Twitter and really just like watching other teams in full-blown panic mode, then perhaps you’ll join me in my excitement about the 2017 NBA Draft tonight.

Although the stakes aren't nearly as high as the good ol’ days when we were forced to pin all our hopes and dreams on whether Anthony Randolph would be Our Savior, this draft is important for the exact opposite reason. The Warriors have a core of saviors (who are incrementally ruining the NBA by the day), but their collective market value requires the Warriors to surround them with past-their-prime veteran talent or young talent requiring less expensive contracts.

Tonight, the Warriors search for the latter. And here’s a quick primer to get you ready.

Wait ... do the Warriors even have a pick?!?

Great question!

As it turns out, they don’t currently own a pick in this year’s draft. You may recall that the miracle deal that Warriors general manager Bob Myers pulled off to facilitate the acquisition of Andre Iguodala in 2013 included sending some future draft picks to the Utah Jazz. Well, the chickens have come home to roost, I guess, and the Warriors will pay off the rest of their debt from that deal in the form of their first-round pick (#30) and their second-round pick (#60), which the Jazz later relayed to the Atlanta Hawks.

But that doesn't mean the Warriors are completely locked out of the draft.

So, how can they get back into the draft?

Despite not entering the draft with a pick, the Warriors can buy a pick from another team. In fact, the team bought a pick just last year when they acquired Patrick McCaw.

But there are rules about that, and the Philadelphia 76ers are an excellent example of how those rules work.

A few people have raised the possibility of buying a pick from the Sixers because they have four picks resulting from their asset hoarding. However, Bobby Marks of The Vertical shot down that idea on Twitter the other day.

You can read the replies to that tweet for more wonky details, but that allowance for selling picks will come into play as teams evaluate whether they want to send a pick to the Warriors for cash.

Something else that could be a factor in whether teams are willing to give up second-round picks is the advent of two-way contracts with the new G-League (which is essentially a re-branded version of the D-League, the NBA’s “minor league”, now sponsored by Gatorade). Whereas D-League contracts worked such that players were called up into a roster spot, G-League two-way contracts will allow franchises to sign players to a contract that allows them to play for the NBA club for a maximum of 45 days without taking up a roster spot, which basically allows teams to sign and develop two additional players without fear of losing them.

It’s almost like an actual minor league system for the NBA. And it makes those second-round picks a whole lot more valuable.

For the sake of consistency, let’s think about it from the perspective of a team like the Sixers. Despite having a young core with arguably the best upside in the league right now, they’re still a ways from becoming a true contender. These two-way contracts allow them to use two of those four second-round picks to swing for the fences on a raw talent they can “try out” for one or two years without wasting a roster spot.

How will teams use these two-way contracts?

Who knows — we’re all going to find out for the first time this year. Ridiculous Upside did a great job outlining the pros and cons of two-way contracts generally earlier this year and Sam Vecenie of VICE Sports wrote a really thorough piece examining how they could affect the draft specifically. But it certainly could dissuade teams from just selling off second-round picks they can’t accommodate.

GSoM user XXL W also provided an overview of this new setup in a FanPost previewing the draft, and did the dirty work of figuring out which teams might be particularly willing to part with their pick. Since teams must have a D-League affiliate to sign two-way players, the New Orleans Pelicans (#40), Denver Nuggets (#49 & #51) and Washington Wizards (#52) might be the teams most willing to sell a pick.

Uh, okay ... so, let’s say the Warriors do end up with a pick. Who should they consider?

I identified a few potential sleepers that might be worth buying a pick for the other day and XXL W did a far more thorough analysis in that same FanPost about the draft. You can read those for details, but here’s a list of some of the players mentioned in those articles:

Jordan Bell, F/C (Oregon)

Jonah Bolden, F (Adriatic League)

Sterling Brown, SG (SMU)

Josh Hart, G (Villanova)

Wesley Iwundu, SG (Kansas State)

Frank Mason, PG (Kansas)

Monte Morris, G (Iowa State)

Cameron Oliver, F (Nevada)

Devin Robinson, SF (Florida)

Caleb Swanigan, F/C (Purdue)

Sindarius Thornwell, SG (South Carolina)

But the bottom line is that the Warriors shouldn’t be looking to draft for need even if they can acquire a pick. Whoever they rate as the best guy available is the guy they should select. If you're wondering how to track the best available, I strongly recommend taking a look at To The Mean’s sortable consensus draft board — it's a really awesome tool.

But what if they can’t buy into the draft?

Even if they don’t end up with a pick, it might be worth simply tracking which prospects go undrafted: “sleeper” guys or players the Warriors worked out prior to the draft might end up being signed as free agents, appearing on the Summer League roster, or in training camp. And if you want true, diehard junkie cred, you’ll want to be ahead of the curve.

Seem unlikely that some guy who wasn’t drafted will make the team? James Michael McAdoo and Summer League MVP Ian Clark are two guys on the current roster who the Warriors signed as undrafted free agents. And never forget Kent Bazemore, king of the bench celebration, who also got his start with the Warriors as an undrafted free agent.

One of those random guys you’ve never heard of could end up being a part of this dynasty!

Alright, you’ve convinced me! How can I watch this thing?

What: 2017 NBA Draft

When: 4 p.m. PST on Thursday June 22, 2017

Where: Barclay’s Center — Brooklyn, NY

TV: ESPN | Online: WatchESPN

Radio: 95.7 The Game

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