The Golden State Warriors’ unbalanced roster almost cost them the Western Conference Finals this year.
Up against the Rockets’ spread offense, Golden State couldn’t play most of their centers, and had little wing depth due to Patrick McCaw and Andre Iguodala’s injuries. Since Draymond Green is such a dynamite at center, the Warriors need to get more capable wings this offseason to unlock their best lineups.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are obviously star wing talents. But Andre Iguodala, who will turn 35 during next season, can’t be trusted for much longer. His aging and frequent injuries make it likely that he’ll take the regular season off once again. Shaun Livingston can play on the wing at a high level as well, but the Warriors will also want to keep his minutes down. Patrick McCaw is a restricted free agent, and even if he does return, he didn’t inspire confidence in his second season. Nick Young probably won’t be back.
The Warriors could use their mid-level exception or convince a veteran wing to take a minimum contract, but they’ll want to draft a wing with the 28th pick anyways. The Warriors could take a point guard or center if they slip, but the need at the shooting guard and small forward positions are far more pressing. Since they are the defending champions, I’d argue drafting for positions is more important for them than other teams in the league.
Luckily for them, the 2018 draft class has a bunch of wings to choose from. After a lottery full of promising bigs, the late first round has defenders, scorers, shooters, and playmakers at the wing position that could earn minutes right away.
The Warriors would preferably want a 3-and-D wing — a player who could fit their switch-heavy defensive scheme and provide much needed spacing. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them select a wing who excels more on the offensive end than on the defensive end, since bench scoring is such a critical need. This draft has those types of scorers: Kevin Huerter, Grayson Allen, Dzanan Musa, Jerome Robinson, and Donte DiVincenzo could all provide shooting and a much needed scoring boost for Golden State.
If the Warriors decide to develop a defensive-minded player, Josh Okogie, Keita Bates-Diop, Melvin Frazier, Chandler Hutchison, De’Anthony Melton, Bruce Brown, Khyri Thomas, and Jacob Evans could learn under the tutelage of Iguodala. If these guys can figure out how to be a plus on the offensive side of the ball, they’ll be good NBA players.
Finding talent at the 28th spot is admittedly difficult, and there’s a good chance that the player the Warriors draft will bust. But given their limited cap flexibility and aging roster, the Warriors would really like to nail this pick. The number of good prospects available at a position of need will only help their odds of finding a guy that can both contribute minutes right away, and have room to grow for the future.