Jordan Poole was a revelation off the bench for the Warriors over the back half of the 2020-21 NBA season, showing significant improvement over his rookie season and providing the playmaking and shot creation that had been sorely missed from the second unit.
The Warriors still could use more of a consistent scoring punch off the bench next season, which is why The Athletic's Sam Vecenie and Anthony Slater believe James Bouknight could be that player at No. 7 overall for Golden State.
"The reason I like him particularly for Golden State is that he really puts high-level pressure on the rim, that is something that I think Golden State missed quite a bit this year," Vecenie said on the "Warriors Plus-Minus" podcast. "I'm assuming it's something that they're not necessarily gonna get back when Klay Thompson starts taking up 25-30 minutes a game."
Bouknight was a multi-level scorer during his two collegiate seasons at Connecticut, averaging 18.7 points over 31.7 minutes per game. Better yet, Bouknight averaged 5.4 free throw attempts per game, while shooting 77.8 percent from the charity stripe. Poole averaged 2.3 free throw attempts per game last season, and just 4.3 on a per-36 minutes basis.
In his post-lottery mock draft, Vecenie has the Warriors selecting Bouknight with the seventh overall pick. Both Vecenie and Slater agreed that if the top six picks go the way many experts expect them to, Bouknight will be the best player on the board at No. 7 for the Warriors.
A 29 percent clip shooting from 3-point range leaves plenty of room for improvement, but Vecenie believes that is more correctable than Bouknight's assist-to-turnover ratio.
"I think the shooting is gonna be fine, I think the turnovers and the passing stuff is something that if he went to Golden State, would particularly bother (Warriors coach Steve Kerr) Kerr early on," Vecenie said.
If Thompson ends up getting back on the court later than the star and the Warriors hope, Bouknight could fill in more of that scoring punch at the guard position.
The Warriors would want the best player available at No. 7 if they end up hanging on to the pick, and both Slater and Vecenie seem to agree that Bouknight would be that player.
He might create a bit of a redundancy with Poole expected to have a larger role, but you never can have enough scoring off the bench, as the Warriors learned the hard way in 2020-21.
Things undoubtedly will evolve over the next month, but don't be surprised if Bouknight's name continues to be linked to the Warriors more and more before draft night on July 29.