Baron Davis

Why Baron Davis picked over Wilt Chamberlain in Warriors Ultimate Draft

Why Baron Davis picked over Wilt Chamberlain in Warriors Ultimate Draft

Editor’s note: Monte Poole, Logan Murdock, Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann participated in NBC Sports Bay Area's inaugural Warriors Ultimate Draft. All four chose squads from a 25-man pool of legends from the last 30 years, plus five "classic" players from before 1990. Our team of experts will dissect and analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

In building a roster capable of contending in today’s NBA, my strategy was based on filling four essential elements: Efficient 3-point shooting, at least one true 3-and-D wing and a big man able to discourage drives into the paint.

The fourth component, hubris, deserves a separate space.

The squad that I put together in NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors Ultimate Draft, selected from a pool of 25 players with the franchise between 1990-2020, gives me all four. I’m confident that I have what I need to chase a ring.

My first-round pick, small forward Chris Mullin, shot 41.4 percent from deep over his final 10 seasons. Credit his ability to replace compulsive drinking with a freakish devotion to physical fitness. Mully would be our Reggie Miller, our Klay Thompson, constantly in motion, coming off screens and drilling triples.

My second-round pick, point guard Baron Davis, stunned my fellow general managers -- Grant Liffman, Logan Murdock and Drew Shiller -- because Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain was on the board. Why pass on Wilt for a BD? I’ll explain.

One, I believed I’d be able to find another Hall of Fame center in a later round. Two, Davis was equal parts incredible skill and unlimited hubris -- two characteristics shared by all great point guards, from Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson to Damian Lillard and Steph Curry. And three, I like the idea of introducing him at home games while the greatest dunk in Warriors history is on the video board.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

My search for a 3-and-D wing led me to Latrell Sprewell, who left the franchise in a thick cloud of insolence but also was a three-time All-Star (as a Warrior) but also was an All-Defensive team choice and a first-team All-NBA guard. Spree was provocative with coaches and teammates, but there is no question my third-round pick could play lockdown defense while also averaging 24.2 points per game -- the highest single-season total of any Warriors shooting guard.

I’d leave it to Davis and my big man, Nate Thurmond, to keep Spree and his hubris within the boundaries of being a good teammate.

I nabbed Nate in the fourth round. No Warriors center, ever, could match his level of defense. It felt wonderful to use a fourth pick to snag a big man possessing the rare defensive trifecta -- on-ball, in space, at the rim -- who also averaged more than 20 points per game during his seven prime seasons.

My fifth and sixth picks were combo guard Gilbert Arenas (more hubris) and combo forward Billy Owens. Warriors fans were as displeased to see Arenas leave as they were to see Owens show up.

[RELATED: Warriors Ultimate Draft snubs: Attles, Biedrins not picked]

Both men, however, could play. Billy O would start at power forward and consistently fill every significant column on the stat. In his best season as a Warrior, he averaged 15.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 50.7 percent. Owens couldn’t defend at the level of Draymond Green, but he had similar offensive skills and was a more efficient scorer.

It’s not Billy’s fault that he was the other aspect of the trade that sent Mitch Richmond to Sacramento.

Which brings me to Arenas, my Sixth Man who is among the most lethal scorers of the millennium. Gilbert played only two seasons -- 129 games -- as a Warrior. His first coach, Dave Cowens, didn’t trust the rookie, never started him and was fired six weeks into the season. Cowens’ replacement, Brian Winters in an interim capacity, saw Arenas’ ability and started him over the final 26 games.

In his second season, under his third coach, Eric Musselman, Arenas started all 82 games at point guard. He averaged 18.3 points and 6.3 assists. Gilbert’s departure as a free agent still pains longtime fans.

Well, he’s back with the Warriors. And he’s on a very talented team.

How did Klay Thompson fall to eighth pick in Warriors Ultimate Draft?

How did Klay Thompson fall to eighth pick in Warriors Ultimate Draft?

Editor’s note: Monte Poole, Logan Murdock, Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann participated in NBC Sports Bay Area's inaugural Warriors Ultimate Draft. All four chose squads from a 25-man pool of legends from the last 30 years, plus five "classic" players from before 1990. Our team of experts will analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

Do not get me wrong, all of the players chosen before Klay Thompson in the Warriors Ultimate Draft are/were studs in the NBA, so an argument can be made for every single one to be worthy of their selection.

But how did Klay fall to eighth?!

Before the draft, I put together a list of whom I thought might be available for my second and third picks. In winning the lottery, choosing Steph Curry first overall was a no brainer. Yes, some could logically argue that Kevin Durant has the physical tools to be the pick in Curry's stead, but the intangibles for Steph were just too great to pass up. 

So once I had Curry on my squad, I figured Durant and Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain and Chris Mullin would be the next off the board. While my dream scenario was to snag Thompson and Draymond Green, I figured they would be selected next and leave me with former stars like Chris Webber and Mitch Richmond.

However, once the selections got to Monte Poole, the draft went my way. He selected Baron Davis with the fifth pick, making Drew Shiller feel the need to pick Chamberlain, who had stunningly fallen to sixth, and when Logan Murdock surprised us all by grabbing Webber at No. 7, I was elated.

I had the chance to team up Klay with Steph in the backcourt. Rarely during one of these hypothetical drafts do the selectors think too hard about chemistry between teammates, but not only was I able to select a player that should have been picked earlier, but I also was able to grab someone who has historically great chemistry with Curry.

The statistics that Thompson has produced over the years should have been enough to be selected earlier in the draft. Over the last five seasons, prior to his ACL injury, Thompson averaged nearly 22 points per game and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range.

Over that stretch, Klay made the All-Star team and reached the NBA Finals in every season, winning three titles, and making the All-NBA team twice. In only eight seasons in the league, Thompson is 18th on the all-time list in 3-pointers made.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

However, what elevates Klay above others is his defensive prowess. He is an exceptional defender who is able to use his 6-foot-7 strong frame to not only guard his own position very well, but also switch on to point guards -- or even power forwards -- and have success.

While he only has been selected to one All-Defensive team, Klay has been a rock on that side of the ball through multiple championship runs, defending some of the greatest offensive players in league history in the likes of LeBron James, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and more. 

[RELATED: Warriors experts defend their teams in Ultimate Draft]

With all due respect to Baron Davis and Chris Webber -- two players with arguably Hall of Fame resumes -- Klay Thompson should have been picked before them and never have made it to my team.

But I'm not complaining. 

Ranking Warriors' most impactful moments from 2007 'We Believe' run

Ranking Warriors' most impactful moments from 2007 'We Believe' run

Programming note: Watch all four of the "We Believe" Warriors' wins over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Even with the Warriors' latest dynastic run, the "We Believe" team remains one of the organization's most memorable squads. 

After missing the playoffs for 13 straight seasons, the Warriors rallied to make the postseason and beat the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the biggest upset in NBA history. For a refresher, here are the top ten moments from the run. 

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST MOMENTS FROM THE WARRIORS' "WE BELIEVE" SEASON