It feels weird to shift our focus away from from the fact that the Golden State Warriors are champions of the world. But such is life in the NBA. One Thursday you’re winning the NBA Finals; the next Thursday you’re partaking in the 2022 NBA Draft.
So it’s time to think about that a bit.
The Warriors are back to their more familiar ways. After a brief interlude in which they had three lottery picks in two years — James Wiseman at No. 2 in 2020, Jonathan Kuminga at No. 7 in 2021, and Moses Moody at No. 14 in 2021 — the Dubs have return to picks at the end of the first round.
This year it’s No. 28. Since moving West, the Warriors have held the No. 28 pick just four times — though two of those four have come since 2018.
Let’s revisit the previous times.
1979 — Danny Salisbury
Warriors stats: Never played
Career stats: Never played
Well, we’re off to a rip-roaring start! Come on down, No. 28! We’ve set the bar at: 0 games.
Salisbury got drafted after a career at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, but failed to make the team out of camp. That would be incredibly rare in this day and age, but more of a normal thing back in 1979, when there were only 22 teams.
1990 — Les Jepsen
Warriors stats: 1 year, 21 games, 1.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.0 assists, and 0.1 blocks per game
Career stats: 2 years, 52 games, 1.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.0 assists, and 0.2 blocks per game
Jepsen had a better career than Salisbury, but the bar was the floor. He’ll best be known for having a name befitting a rockstar, and being part of the trade that sent Mitch Ritchmond 80 miles northeast.
It would be quite a disappointment if the No. 28 pick in this draft can’t exceed that career.
2018 — Jacob Evans III
Warriors stats: 2 years, 57 games, 2.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game
Career stats: 2 years, 59 games, 2.8 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game
We’re continuing see improvements — Evans was better than Jepsen was better than Salisbury — but it’s still not very exciting stuff. Still, you can see the vision with Evans. He had a high defensive ceiling, and some strong playmaking chops. He was just never able to score or create separation off the dribble, which left him unfortunately rather useless, since he wasn’t much of a scorer.
At No. 28 you’re taking a gamble on players. There’s no such thing as a sure thing, so you pick some skillsets you like and hope for the best. There were reasons to be high on Evans, regardless of the end result.
It’s now where I remind you of the 10 players drafted at No. 28 in the 10 drafts before Evans: Tony Bradley, Skal Labissière, R.J. Hunter, C.J. Wilcox, Livio Jean-Charles, Perry Jones, Norris Cole, Greivis Vásquez, Wayne Ellington, and Donté Green.
Adjust your expectations accordingly.
2019 — Jordan Poole
Warriors/career stats: 3 years (and counting), 184 games, 13.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.2 blocks per game
And now we’ve arrived at our shining star. All the Warriors need to do is draft another Poole and they’ll be set. Simple as that, right?
But again, look at the names in the Evans blurb. Remember that the two No. 28 picks since Poole were Jaden McDaniels and Jaden Springer.
The Dubs struck gold with Poole. Can they do it again? Highly unlikely. But highly worth trying.