The five-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors entered the suspended portion of the 2019-20 NBA season with a league-worst 15-50 record.
Golden State is going nowhere fast once (or if) the season returns. But it has the best odds to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft whenever that happens.
The options: Golden State could very well decide to keep the first pick and choose between the likes of guard Anthony Edwards and center James Wiseman. It could also opt to trade out of the pick and go into more of a win-now mode.
Keep the pick: General manager Bob Myers and Co. have to be thinking about the future. Stephen Curry is coming off a serious injury and is not getting younger. Neither are Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
- Despite the injuries we’ve seen in San Francisco this season, one positive has come out of the Chase Center. The Warriors finally have some young talent.
- Rookie second-round pick Eric Paschall has played incredibly well. Former Phoenix Suns lottery pick Marquess Criss looks to be an important part of the future, as does the recently-acquired Andrew Wiggins.
- Golden State could opt to add to this young core with someone like shoot-first wing Anthony Edwards. He’d be a backup out of the gate, providing a scoring punch behind Thompson and Wiggins.
- James Wiseman is also a potential option in that he’d give Golden State their first skilled big since Andrew Bogut. I would also be ignorant to ignore the appeal of one LaMelo Ball.
Trade out of selection: This would be Golden State’s way of adding more draft pick assets and a potential veteran contributor.
- Let’s say these Warriors earn the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. In a class that’s perceived as weak, that might actually draw teams in a trade-up scenario. Edwards and Wiseman are seen as a cut above the rest.
- A trade-down scenario could net Golden State a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, a future first-round pick and veteran asset.
- It could use the Andre Iguodala trade exception ($17.2 million) to take on someone like Julius Randle from the New York Knicks while still being able to land a lower lottery pick. It’s a combination of building for the future and winning now.
Opt out of 2020 NBA Draft: This would be the nuclear option. Deal away the top pick for a proven star. Trade the future for the ability to contend with Curry, Thompson and Wiggins.
- It’s a scenario pointed out by former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy. Pretty much opt out of the 2020 NBA Draft by trading the first pick for a proven star. It’s akin to what the Cleveland Cavaliers did when they dealt then-rookie Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love.
- The idea here would be to get a true third star behind Thompson and Curry. Though, it does get a bit tricky in that Golden State’s options would be limited by the cap. It could only move the top pick and Iguodala’s trade exception while bringing on that $17.2 million, at most.
- The position of target here would likely be a power forward or center. Is there anyone in the NBA in the salary range of $17.2 million playing those two positions worth trading the top pick for? Again, it’s complicated.
The ideal scenario would be for Golden State to trade out of the top pick and acquire a selection further down in the top 10 while picking up draft pick assets and a veteran player.
This would be the best of both worlds. An eye on both the short term and the future. Whether this is likely given that the 2020 NBA Draft is seen as weak remains to be seen.
What I do know is that the Warriors are going to get creative once/if the 2019-20 NBA seasons concludes and the offseason starts. Having a top pick adds to the their war chest in a big way.