We’re exactly a week away from the 2021 NBA Draft, which means we’re a week away from finding out how the Golden State Warriors will kick off the offseason as they search for ways to return their roster to championship contention.
The Warriors have been linked to a large number of prospects, so it’s pretty hard to know where they’ll go.
But that won’t stop me from trying to figure out.
Every year we here at SB Nation do a mock draft with writers from all 30 team sites — or at least from all of the teams involved in the first round. Last year Jas Kang selected James Wiseman with the second pick, which proved prophetic.
This year I did the drafting, for both the No. 7 and No. 14 picks. There were a lot of good options, but here’s who I ended up with: at No. 7, I selected Baylor guard Davion Mitchell, and at No. 14 I picked Turkish big man Alperen Şengün.
Why Davion Mitchell?
Players already off the board: Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes.
My thought process with Mitchell was that the Warriors don’t want to repeat the mistake they made last year with Wiseman, when they used a lottery pick on a player who wasn’t yet ready to contribute. That’s why I think the Warriors will be heavily shopping one or both picks, but we opted against allowing trades in our mock draft.
So instead I went with the player I thought had the best chance of being a key contributor on a contending team as a rookie.
Mitchell is one of the best defenders in the draft, and defense is often what keeps young players from being able to provide value. There are some serious concerns about Mitchell’s size — or lack thereof — but while that may lower his defensive ceiling, I don’t think it disrupts his defensive floor too much. He’s a ball hound, a strong athlete, and a pest both on and off-ball.
He also shot 44.7% from deep last year, which may or may not be an outlier. If he can hit in the high 30s, while providing strong defense, Mitchell could easily play 20 minutes a night for a Warriors team that’s aiming to return to the postseason.
Mitchell will be 23 when the season begins, which might be reason to think his long-term potential is low. But it certainly increases the odds of him being a quality player this year.
Players already off the board: Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, Davion Mitchell, Moses Moody, Jalen Johnson, Franz Wagner, James Bouknight, Josh Giddey, Jared Butler.
With an NBA-ready player already drafted in Mitchell, it was time to swing for the fences. Enter Alperen Şengün, a 6’9” big man who just won Turkish Super League MVP honors while just 18 years old.
It would be a shocker if Şengün is ready to play any meaningful minutes this season, but with Alen Smailagić presumably gone, the Dubs can afford to fill out a roster spot with a longer-term prospect — especially one with a ceiling dramatically higher than Smiley’s.
Şengün has drawn some comparisons to reigning MVP Nikola Jokić, as his game is a mixture of old school post moves featuring elite footwork, and dazzling passes that big men aren’t supposed to make.
Just look at some of these highlights:
You can’t teach that vision, and you won’t find many players — even in the NBA — with better footwork.
Şengün will need to continue growing his jumper — it’s already good, but needs to get better — and he has a long way to go on defense. But many see the young sensation as having a chance to be one of the top players in the draft a few years down the road, and with Mitchell already drafted, the Warriors can afford to put on that lens.
You can read our entire mock draft, with blurbs on all 30 picks, here.