As you’re probably well aware of by now, the Golden State Warriors hold the No. 2 overall pick in Wednesday’s NBA Draft. And it seems like the most likely outcome is that they use it to draft a top prospect such as James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, or LaMelo Ball.
But we’ve talked a lot about the potential for the Warriors to trade the pick. With the draft being a touch uninspiring, and Golden State needing some players who can help them capitalize on a wide-open championship window, there’s been a lot of talk about Golden State dangling the pick — perhaps alongside Andrew Wiggins and/or the Minnesota Timberwolves first-round pick in 2021 — and trying to land a star, or a high-quality veteran role player.
It doesn’t seem like there are many options available, so I want to talk about a different trade: the trade down.
Two years ago, the Atlanta Hawks executed the type of trade that I could see the Warriors making. The Hawks held the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and they knew exactly who they wanted: Trae Young. They also knew that the Dallas Mavericks, who had the No. 5 pick, wanted Luka Dončić, and that if he were off the board, the Memphis Grizzlies would take Jaren Jackson Jr. with the No. 4 pick.
In other words, the Hawks knew that if they moved back to No. 5, the player they wanted at No. 3 would still be available.
So they called Dallas. The Mavs had no choice because they knew Memphis would take Dončić if Dallas didn’t get him first. So they swapped spots with Atlanta, throwing in a 2019 first-round pick to make it worth Atlanta’s while.
Perhaps this is a poor example, because I do not want to encourage the Warriors to trade down to avoid drafting the next Luka Dončić. That is not a good idea.
But the process is one the Warriors can follow, depending on who they’re most keen on in the draft.
What if the Chicago Bulls, who have the No. 4 pick, want James Wiseman, but know that the Charlotte Hornets — who are rumored to be enamored with the Memphis center — will take him at No. 3? If the Warriors already have their sight set on, say, Killian Hayes, then they can move back, get a future asset, and still get the same player they would have drafted at No. 2.
Or if they have their eyes on someone who will likely fall a bit further, they could really try and get a strong package out of a desperate team like the New York Knicks (No. 8), Washington Wizards (No. 9), or Sacramento Kings (No. 12).
Such an opportunity might not materialize, and it really depends on the Warriors having a target that will be available beyond the second spot in the draft. But we know Bob Myers loves to acquire future assets, and this type of move is right up his alley.