The Golden State Warriors won the 2017 and 2018 NBA titles without a top-tier center. No disrespect to JaVale McGee or Zaza Pachulia, but no one is mistaking either of them for an All-Star.
I expect the Dubs will have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green will be in the starting lineup next season, but who does Golden State roll with at the center spot?
The SF Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau wrote a nice piece on how Marquese Chriss’ play over the final stretch before the shutdown is giving the Warriors something to think about at the 5 spot.
“Golden State views Chriss as a potential franchise building block, whose knack for rim-running, passing and interior defense makes him an ideal fit in its system. The front office is so optimistic about his future, according to multiple sources, that it would be comfortable entering next season with him as the starting center.”
General manager Bob Myers will have a tough decision to make. With the Dubs all but assured of a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, there have been rumors of the team being interested in selecting either James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu.
Draft pundits typically have Wiseman listed higher than Okongwu. The former Memphis big man has all the physical tools you can ask for. He is long, can run the floor, and has the frame to be a very good NBA center after averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 boards during his short three-game stint with the Tigers before a pay-to-play scandal caused him to walk away from the team.
The knock on Wiseman is that he takes plays off and lacks the competitiveness to maximize his potential, which can’t be said about Okongwu.
The 19-year-old had a strong freshman season at USC, averaging 16.2 points on 61.6% shooting, plus 8.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Okongwu’s advanced stats are also off the charts. His netRTG was a ridiculous +34.5 per 100 possessions and his 5.4 win shares led the Trojans by a wide margin.
Getting back to Chriss, it all depends on what Myers and head coach Steve Kerr decide what his ceiling is. As Letourneau points out, Chriss averaged 13.7 points (on 59% shooting), 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks over his final 15 games, but this stretch came after he had a difficult time finding his footing in the NBA.
Kevon Looney is a serviceable big man, but if the Warriors want to get back to being a championship contender adding another center via the draft or trade seems like a no-brainer.
Golden State reportedly prefers Okongwu over Wiseman, but feels as if neither is worth a high lottery pick. The feeling is that the Dubs would be open to drafting Okongwu further down the draft board, so trading back would be the best option.
Again, it all comes down to what the Warriors brass feels about Chriss. If they believe he can be a contributor on a championship team, then Myers and co. can focus their attention on filling out the rest of the roster.
Who do you think should be the Dubs starting center next season out of Chriss, Wiseman and Okongwu?
On to some more links:
Tim Hardaway was a huge part of the glory RUN TMC days. The former Dubs point guard shared a funny story about then head coach Don Nelson. (h/t Jessica Kleinschmidt NBC Bay Area)
It would have been great to see a documentary on the 2015-19 Warriors run, similar to ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” Klay’s father, Mychal Thompson, joined KNBR and said Kerr wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having cameras around the team for a full season.
The debates rages on about how the 2015-19 Dubs would have done in previous eras. A group of 90’s NBA legends got together for a virtual meeting and discussed how Golden State would have done in the league 25 years ago.
We don’t know where Golden State’s pick will land at the 2020 NBA Draft. NBC Bay Area’s Drew Shiller looked back at the 2002 Draft and how the Warriors missed out on a global NBA star.