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Ranking the Warriors draft picks since 1989: Picks 1-10

A whole lot of busts, a whole lot of talent, and one Steph Curry.

Foot Locker Three Point Shootout Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have made some spectacular draft picks over the years. They’ve also made some rather horrendous ones. So why not rank them all?

But simply ranking every draft pick in Warriors history would be a little fruitless, because obviously those taken at the top of draft are likely to be better. Instead, I wanted to focus on the players drafted within certain slots.

So I ranked all of the Warriors draft picks by section: Picks 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60.

A few notes:

  • I needed a cutoff somewhere, so I went with 1989. Why? That’s when the NBA Draft switched to two rounds. In 1988, for example, there were three rounds and 75 picks. 1971, the first year that they were officially the Golden State Warriors? 19 rounds and 237 players.
  • I’m only using players that the Warriors effectively drafted. Players they technically drafted but traded are not included; however, players they didn’t technically draft but immediately acquired are included. In other words, Antawn Jamison counts but Vince Carter does not.
  • I’m valuing players in a vacuum. It’s a ranking of how good the player is, not how good the selection was. So Adonal Foyle isn’t docked for being taken one slot ahead of Tracy McGrady. That said, I’m including a note as to what other players might have been available, just for context and self-loathing.
  • I’m only judging players based on NBA production — with or without the Warriors — but I will note what they’ve done outside of the NBA.

We’ve done five groups, which you can find here:


Now it’s time for the final grouping: picks 1-10. Top picks are always the most exciting, because that’s where the best talent is, but also the biggest busts.

This Warriors group is no exception.

13. Patrick O’Bryant

9th overall, 2006 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (2 years, 40 games)
5.5 minutes, 1.7 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks per game

Career stats (4 years, 90 games)
5.8 minutes, 2.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, P.J. Tucker, Rajon Rondo, J.J. Redick, Thabo Sefolosha

Ahh, the Notorious POB. Probably the only player on this list who never really flashed moments that made you think it might work out.

I don’t envy a traditional, back-to-the-basket 7-footer the task of being drafted by a Don Nelson team. But even after leaving the Warriors, O’Bryant never really looked like an NBA player.

He’s still playing professionally (currently in Canada), and even spent three years playing for a team in the Super Basketball League named Taiwan Beer, which was formerly named the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau Golden Dragons. That is an outstanding name.

12. Ike Diogu

9th overall, 2005 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (2 years, 86 games)
14.6 minutes, 7.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game

Career stats (6 years, 225 games)
12.4 minutes, 6.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Andrew Bynum, David Lee, Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, Lou Williams, Nate Robinson

The number 9 pick may seem like it should be a good thing, but it’s a miss more often than it is a hit. NBA drafts just aren’t that deep, and are too much a crapshoot.

Don’t believe me? Here are the last five picks taken in that slot: Rui Hachimura, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Jakob Pöltl, and Frank Kaminsky.

Even with that context, the Warriors drafting Diogu and O’Bryant in consecutive years with that pick is ... really something.

Diogu never developed into a regular NBA player, but he was at the heart of the Warriors trade for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, so Golden State actually got a decent amount of value from him.

He’s still playing professionally, and has played for Nigeria in the last two Summer Olympics. He was set to play for Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown in the 2020 Olympics, before they were postponed.

11. Ekpe Udoh

6th overall, 2010 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (2 years, 96 games)
19.3 minutes, 4.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game

Career stats (7 years, 384 games)
14.8 minutes, 3.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley, Hassan Whiteside, Nemanja Bjelica, Lance Stephenson

Give Udoh credit: The man could block a shot. Still can, in fact, as he returned to the NBA for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons (after a two-year hiatus in Europe), solely on the strength of his defense.

10. Adonal Foyle

8th overall, 1997 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (10 years, 641 games)
19.1 minutes, 4.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game

Career stats (12 years, 733 games)
17.8 minutes, 4.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Tracy McGrady, Stephen Jackson, Danny Fortson

Foyle’s staying power was truly impressive. He lasted 12 NBA seasons, despite never averaging even 6 points per game. He knew his role, stayed within the confines of his skillset, and was, by all accounts, a tremendous teammate.

And while I have a very fond spot in my heart for him, I’ll always remember him most for this:

Everything about that clip is amazing. Foyle’s shot. Diogu’s reaction. Jim Barnett’s attempt to save face for Foyle. The lineup: Derek Fisher, Mickael Piétrus, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Troy Murphy, and Foyle.

It’s perfect.

9. Brandan Wright

8th overall, 2007 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (3 years, 98 games)
12.8 minutes, 5.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game

Career stats (11 years, 428 games)
16.2 minutes, 7.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game

Notable players selected after him
Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, Thaddeus Young

It felt like Wright was fighting for his career from the first time he stepped on the floor, which makes it that much more impressive to remember that he was playing in the NBA as recently as the 2017-18 season.

He never really stuck anywhere — he played for seven teams — though he had a nice run with the Dallas Mavericks for a few years.

He sure was fun though.

8. Billy Owens

3rd overall, 1991 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (4 years, 212 games)
32.3 minutes, 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game

Career stats (10 years, 600 games)
29.4 minutes, 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Dikembe Mutombo, Steve Smith, Dale Davis, Chris Gatling, Terrell Brandon

Owens looked like he was going to be a very good player. He was named to the All-Rookie team after averaging 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds during the 1991-92 season. Those are the kind of stats that, when a rookie posts them, make you anticipate a long and very successful career.

His career was pretty long, but his production fell off almost immediately after leaving the Warriors.

7. Mike Dunleavy Jr.

3rd overall, 2002 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (5 years, 356 games)
27.6 minutes, 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game

Career stats (16 years, 986 games)
27.7 minutes, 11.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Amar’e Stoudemire, Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer

It’s been 18 years since the Warriors drafted Dunleavy and I’ve yet to encounter a Warriors fan who likes him. In fact, even 13-plus years after he last played a game for the Dubs, the strongest fan sentiment about Dunleavy seems to be anger that he was waived by the 2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers before the Warriors got to face him in the Finals.

Rational or irrational disdain aside, Dunleavy had a long and successful career, and was a pretty darn good player. And now he’s the Warriors assistant general manager, which I’m sure fans have absolutely no feelings about. Nope, none whatsoever.

6. Harrison Barnes

7th overall, 2012 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (4 years, 307 games)
28.1 minutes, 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game

Career stats (8 years, 604 games)
31.2 minutes, 13.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Andre Drummond I guess

Barnes always felt like a little bit of a disappointment, even though it was never really his fault. He was the number one ranked player in the country coming out of high school, and presumed to be the top pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. But his freshman year at UNC was bumpy enough that he stuck around for a second year, and was only the seventh pick when he finally went to the NBA.

Once drafted, he had a lot of player comps (Paul Pierce was a common one) that never seemed particularly fair. So it always felt like he was failing to live up to expectations, even though he wasn’t the one who put those expectations there.

In reality, he was a quality player who had a big role in a championship team. We won’t forget that, Harrison, when you’re running for state senate in 15 years.

5. Joe Smith

1st overall, 1995 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (3 years, 211 games)
35.8 minutes, 17.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game

Career stats (16 years, 1,030 games)
26.2 minutes, 10.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, Antonio McDyess, Michael Finley, Theo Ratliff

Smith was certainly not what you dream of when you select a player first overall, a fact that wasn’t helped by being the only player in the top five of the 1995 Draft to not make an All-Star team.

But every team needs role players, and even though he was never a star, Smith hung around long enough that he’s 124th all-time in NBA/ABA history in games played. There’s value in that.

4. Jason Richardson

5th overall, 2001 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (6 years, 438 games)
35.5 minutes, 18.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game

Career stats (14 years, 857 games)
34.1 minutes, 17.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Shane Battier, Mehmet Okur

Are you even a Warriors fan if you didn’t cry when Jason Richardson was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats? I was kind of amazed going through J-Rich’s Basketball-Reference page and realizing he only played six years in the Bay Area. It felt like at least ten.

Part of that was because the team was horrible, and so life moved slowly. But it was mostly because J-Rich was a Warriors player through and through. He gave it all on every possession, every night. He connected with fans. He put on a show when there was little to root for. He wanted to be on the Warriors, even though they refused to put a good team around him.

In the big picture, he was likely a player who’s value never lived up to his stats, but that’s only if you define “value” in the analytic sense. He is a Warrior for life, and will always get a huge ovation when he comes home for games.

Also, he’s the most underrated dunker in NBA history, and I stand by that.

3. Antawn Jamison

4th overall, 1998 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (5 years, 336 games)
36.5 minutes, 20.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game

Career stats (16 years, 1,083 games)
34.8 minutes, 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce

Jamison had a fantastic career, even if the two All-Star selections happened after he left the Warriors. So it goes.

Plus, the back-to-back 51-point games are an all-time Warriors highlight.

2. Chris Webber

1st overall, 1993 NBA Draft

Warriors stats (2 years, 85 games)
30.2 minutes, 16.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game

Career stats (15 years, 831 games)
37.1 minutes, 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Allan Houston

Ahh, another high Warriors draft pick who made the All-Star Game — five times, in Webber’s case — but only without the Warriors.

Webber started and ended his career with the Warriors, and in between had a phenomenal basketball career.

1. Steph Curry

7th overall, 2009 NBA Draft

Warriors and career stats (11 years, 699 games)
34.3 minutes, 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game

Notable players selected after him
Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan

Yeah I’m not gonna waste any time explaining this pick.

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