Warriors

Draft prospects Warriors might value more than other lotto teams

Warriors
Josh Giddey

Two prominent members of the Warriors' brain trust spoke with the media Monday, and the main takeaway was clear:

What happened this season cannot happen again in 2021-22.

After a couple days to reflect on Golden State's elimination in the play-in tournament, President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr were forthright in their assessment of what happened and what needs to change. Steph Curry's prime cannot be wasted. The roster needs a significant influx of veteran contributors. And nearly every option is on the table heading into what is going to be a critical and fascinating offseason.

Major trades will be considered, and when it gets to free agency, the Warriors will go into it targeting a specific type of player. But before that, there's the draft, in which the Dubs likely will have two picks in the lottery. And based on what Myers and Kerr said Monday, there is a characteristic that Golden State will prioritize in determining its selection(s).

"You have to make some educated guesses, and so it's really about being helpful in some way," Myers said when asked about the possibility of having multiple rookies on next season's roster. "Helping the team win. I think that would be the goal with any rookie we add, can this guy lead to winning in the minutes he is on the floor?"

 

So, regardless of how many draft selections the Warriors actually make, and regardless of where those selections are made in the draft order, Myers' comments would seem to indicate they won't be selecting any long-term projects. Such prospects do not fit into Golden State's adjusted timeline, and any rookie on next year's roster better be able to contribute something helpful right away.

Based on that criteria, the Warriors probably value certain prospects more so than other lottery teams do. After all, Golden State wants to immediately get back to championship contention, whereas most other teams in the lottery are in the stages of a rebuild.

So, which prospects might those be? Here are a few that could check the satisfactory boxes that the Warriors are looking for:

Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor

The standout player of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Mitchell might be the most NBA-ready player in the entire draft. The 6-foot-3 guard led the Baylor Bears to a national title as a junior and was named the National Defensive Player of the Year. He's a lead initiator who offers a wicked-quick first step and proficiency shooting from long distance. He shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range last season while averaging 14.0 points and 5.5 assists per contest.

Mitchell has been shooting up draft boards ever since the tournament, and if he were younger, the Warriors probably wouldn't have shot at him, considering they're very likely to have the No. 14 overall pick, as well as one that falls somewhere between the sixth and eighth overall selections. He turns 23 years old in September, meaning he's likely much closer to a finished product than the 18 and 19-year-olds that will be taken with most other lottery selections.

That's not ideal for a rebuilding team, but could be just what the Warriors are looking for. Mitchell's experience, shot-making and ferocious on-ball defense could allow him to immediately step in as Curry's backup and provide Golden State with a lead ball-handler for the second unit, where he could pair in the backcourt with Jordan Poole. It could be a perfect match.

Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

In addition to veteran experience, Myers and Kerr both expressed a desire to add more shooting to the roster. Well, you can't do any better than the best shooter in the draft.

It's easy to see how Kispert (6-foot-7, 220 pounds) fits into the modern NBA. He shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range on high volume (6.5 attempts per game) as a senior with the Bulldogs this past year, and ranked in the 95th percentile as a spot-up shooter, per Synergy. His stroke isn't as gorgeous as Klay Thompson's, but it's close, and you cannot leave Kispert open on the perimeter.

The two biggest knocks on Kispert are his age and athleticism. He turns 23 years old next March, and he was exposed a bit by Baylor in the National Championship Game. Of those two concerns, the former doesn't seem to be nearly as critical to the Warriors as the latter. If they believe Kispert can keep up from an athletic standpoint in the NBA, his age is unlikely to overshadow that. The Warriors already have the two best shooters in the league. In Kispert, they potentially could add the third.

 
RELATED: Warriors' goal next season must be playoffs, not NBA title

Josh Giddey, Point-Forward, Adelaide 36ers

Unlike Mitchell and Kispert, who very well could be the two eldest players selected in the lottery, Giddey is a relatively young pup. The 6-foot-8 Australian won't turn 19 years old until October, so he's still very much an unfinished product. But unlike most of the other teenagers in the draft, Giddey already has professional experience. He arguably was the best player in the Australian NBL this season, which you might recall is the same league that Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball proved himself in before becoming the No. 3 overall pick in 2020.

Giddey offers a unique skill set for someone his size. Before shutting his season down early to prepare for the draft, he led the NBL with an average of 7.6 assists per contest and ranked sixth in the league in rebounding. He became the youngest Australian player in NBL history to record a triple-double on April 25, and finished with three triple-doubles in his final six games.

Though he needs to improve his outside shooting and on-ball defense, Giddey looks like one of the few youngsters outside of those likely to be picked in the top five that could step in and play right away as a rookie. He's among the best passers and playmakers in a draft that is chock-full of them, and his positionless versatility fits right into the modern game. He would seem to be an ideal fit for a team that places a heavy emphasis on ball movement and getting out in transition. You know, like the Warriors.

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