After a horrid 2019-20 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors are retooling for the 2020-21 season. With a healthy core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, tertiary pieces like Andrew Wiggins and a good bench, the Warriors will be competitive again.
The big picture: The Warriors will get a top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The question is, who should Golden State draft based on their needs?
How the Warriors stack up
As it stands, the Warriors have six guards signed for the 2020-21 season. But only three of them are guaranteed: Curry, Thompson and Jordan Poole. The other three – Damion Lee, Ky Bowman and Mychal Mulder – have partially-guaranteed contracts.
Lee recently got a contract extension and Bowman averaged 7.4 points, 2.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds and a steal in 22.6 minutes a game. Meanwhile, Mulder averaged 11 points, three points and one assists in about 30 minutes a game. But he shot under 40% and only 30% from the 3-point line in the seven games – with three starts – he played.
In the frontcourt, Golden State has Wiggins, Green, Kevon Looney, Marquese Chriss, Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagic. The first three players signed long-term contracts so they’re not going anywhere while the last two are draft picks. That leaves Chriss’ partially-guaranteed contact.
Although Chriss has thrived in Golden State, he may not get a spot next season depending on who the Warriors draft. If he’s able to snag a roster spot, he could potentially come off the bench as a backup center or power forward. Chriss along with Paschall, Lee, Bowman and Poole make for a fascinating second unit.
Guards the Warriors could draft in the top 10
If the Warriors opt to draft a guard, here are a few options:
- Anthony Edwards: A 6-foot-5 guard, Edwards averaged 19 points, five rebounds and 2.8 assists. His 3-point shooting needs work though as he shot sub-30%.
- LaMelo Ball: At 6-foot-7,the 22-year-old Ball has the size to play both guard positions. Although he’s shown promise playing in Australia averaging 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 12 games, he needs to work on his shooting. Ball shot 37% percent from the field and 25% from 3-point land.
- Deni Avdija: Standing 6-foot-8, Avdija is an interesting prospect. At 19, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33 games – 21 starts – for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Avdija has the size to play the two guard or even the three.
- Tyrese Haliburton: Another 6-foot-5 guard, Haliburton can shoot. In 22 games, he averaged 15.2 points on 50% shooting from the field, 42% from 3-point land and 82% from the free-throw line, respectively. He also grabbed 5.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals.
- Killian Hayes: Hayes is 19 but he can play both guard spots. In 27 minutes playing for ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, he’s averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The 6-foot-4 guard narrowly missed the “50/40/90” mark, but he’s only played 10 games.
There are a plethora of options at the guard position the Warriors could go with in the draft. However, they could also look to bolster the front court.
The bigs Golden State could draft
Considering the Warriors are somewhat filled at the guard positions, they could opt to go for a forward or center. The Warriors don’t necessarily have depth in the front court so these players could have an immediate impact when drafted:
- James Wiseman: The 19-year-old Wiseman only played three games before leaving Memphis. Nevertheless, he averaged 19.7 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes. Obviously the lack of playing time is a big concern, but at 7-foot-1, he can impact a game immediately.
- Onyeka Okongwu: The 6-foot-9 forward from USC averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 28 games. An active defender, Okongwu can be an interesting addition for teams looking for small-ball lineups.
- Obi Toppin: Toppin is another compelling forward; at 6-foot-9, he shot 63%, 39% and 70% from the field, 3-point line and free-throw line, respectively. In all, he averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2. assists, 1.2 blocks and a steal in 31 minutes a game.
- Precious Achiuwa: Another Memphis product, Achiuwa averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals. His 6-foot-9 frame gives him the flexibility to play any front-court position.
Based on the Warriors’ roster construction, they don’t really need to draft a guard, unless they are planning on packaging the him in a trade. Rumors have been flying on what the Warriors will do with the pick: will they keep it or package it with Wiggins for another superstar? Whatever the case may be, the Warriors have a lot of decisions to make come draft day.
The bottom line: the Warriors should draft a big
Although drafting a guard might be a tantalizing proposition for Golden State, their best chance of success would be drafting a big. Based on the roster construction, Looney’s injury history is too much to overlook and Green is best used in spurts at center. Paschall and Smailagic don’t have enough experience to warrant heavy minutes on a playoff-contending team.
If the Warriors pick Wiseman, they automatically get the size and length they’ve been looking for. His age and lack of playing time is a big issue, however. On the other hand, Okongwu and Toppin offer the Warriors a more polished player on the floor: Okongwu on the defensive end and Toppin on offense. That leaves Achiuwa as the wildcard pick.
Regardless of who the Warriors draft, they are in good shape. The Warriors also have choices when it comes to free agency as well. With the championship core coming back, the pick will only bolster the Warriors chances of making noise next season.