Warriors

How to keep Warriors' NBA lottery draft pick status in perspective

/ by Kerith Burke
Presented By AskKerith
Warriors

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

The Warriors wrap up a road trip tonight in Utah. I saw a game notes gem. The player with the active streak for most consecutive games played is the Jazz' Joe Ingles, with 317.

The Warriors’ ironman was Klay Thompson, who set a franchise record with 214 consecutive games played. Before his ACL surgery, Klay had appeared in 615 of a possible 640 regular-season games. 

I miss Klay. We have something special planned with Klay in an upcoming broadcast. Stay tuned. 

Game On!

@MrHeavyMetaI Is it bad that fans hope the team loses so that they can have a top-three pick in the draft? #askKerith

I understand this reaction. I don’t think it’s “bad,” but it is predictable. Fans are disappointed by losses. So is the team! A top-three pick can hopefully get someone who can make an impact right away next season. 

I would caution that the Warriors still have months to play and yelling “tank!” at the players feels crummy. Every night they have to put on the uniform and do their jobs, and they sincerely want to do it the best they can. Players are not thinking about the draft right now. There’s too much pride and competitiveness. 

 

Fans can hold whatever feelings they want, but don’t expect the players to be in the same headspace. Especially in November. 

@Danny_G49 Assuming the Warriors pick high in the lottery next draft, which do you think is more likely? A) Select player B) Trade pick for vet. Thanks! 

@HiiiPowerRevo What do you think the Warriors should do with their top pick? Do they need a forward/wing or a center? Also is their indication that the warriors will really focus hard on building their bench for a next year championship push given how injuries are so frequent with the team.

I think they’ll select a player. A top pick means they get younger. That’s always important. 

The Warriors have homegrown veterans in Steph Curry, Klay, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney. My guess is the emphasis will be on finding the next young star who can rise alongside these vets while they’re in their primes to put a championship back in sight. 

However, I’m not sure what’s possible to predict. There’s so much of the season left, with too many unknowns. Are the Warriors open to trades? Will some of the players with long-term injuries need more time to heal? Less time? What do the Warriors have in mind for D’Angelo Russell? Will Looney’s neuropathy impact his season and beyond? Could Ky Bowman force his way into a deal? What free agents around the league are realistic for the Warriors this summer?

Let’s work backwards with some dates:

The 2020 NBA Draft is June 25th. 
The draft lottery is May 19th. 
The trade deadline is February 6th. 
All contracts are guaranteed after January 10th. 
10-day contracts can be signed starting January 5th. 

Today is Nov. 22. What I see, in this moment, is a depleted Warriors team playing eight or nine guys a night and the impact that’s having. There are some young players getting minutes they’d never ordinarily see. There are pluses and minuses to that. 

For the rookies, there’s a big difference between the demands of the college game and the NBA game. All of this takes a toll on the body and the mind. 

I want to say a prayer, cross my fingers, wish on every star and find a genie in a bottle to ask for no more injuries. 

The point is, what we think we know about situations now might not be the same come January, February or this summer.

@enchillada_3 Where is Alen smailagic???? Last I heard he rolled his ankle before pre season??

Via IG, @evenstrongerps4 Any update on Smiley’s injury? #askKerith

Based on the mailbag questions I get, no player is as intriguing as Alen Smailagic, the 19-year-old forward from Serbia. Fans got a glimpse of him in the G League last season, and his highlight-reel dunks in Summer League. 

 

The Warriors announced this week that Smailagic is cleared for on-court workouts as his rehab for a sprained ankle wraps up. He’s currently practicing in Santa Cruz, as is Looney. The Warriors will re-evaluate Jacob Evans’ left adductor strain in two weeks.

It’s exciting that Smailagic is moving better, but fans should be prepared for limited minutes from him this season outside of Santa Cruz, if any at all. He is young, raw and in the developmental stages of his NBA career. Even with the Warriors’ need for bodies, the team is going to be very careful with him. 

@rtaborn Why didn’t the Warriors try to sign Melo? 

The Blazers have been looking at Carmelo Anthony since 2017 when he was on his way out from the Knicks, and Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum talked publicly about their desire to play with him. This season, the Blazers are thin with Jusef Nurkic and Zach Collins hurt, plus Pau Gasol announcing he’s done for the season so he can focus on rehabbing his foot injury. 

Adding Melo made sense. The Blazers could also pay Melo. The Warriors don’t have the money. 

I didn’t hear anyone around Golden State talking about Melo to begin with and he’s a better fit elsewhere. 

Via IG, @skiptomyvu Why isn’t Ron Adams on the bench anymore? 

Ron Adams is a beloved member of the Warriors' coaching staff. He remains an assistant coach and he works with players, but the way I understand it, Adams got to carve out his own role this season. 

The Warriors haven’t said much about what that means, but an assistant as respected as Ron -- with decades of coaching experience -- gets some freedom to do what he wants. 

Adams turned 72 this week. You might not see him on the bench or on road trips as much, but he’s putting his knowledge to good use for the Warriors. I see him often at Chase Center. He’s involved!

@RimRunninRagged Can you or @loganmmurdock update us on the Warriors practice playlist this season? Has it been updated to suit the musical tastes of new players on the team? Guessing no Janet Jackson or Tupac in the rotation …

Khalid Robinson, Special Assistant to Steve Kerr, is the man in charge of the practice playlists. He takes requests from all the players. A sample of the artists on the playlist are Nipsey Hussle, Ari Lennox, Future, Biggie and Da Baby. 

High Five

A big thank you to Jim Barnett for coming on the Runnin’ Plays podcast! That’s the new name for the pod Logan and I are doing together. 

 

Jim was requested by fans, and they were blunt about what they wanted to know: Does Jim feel pushed out from TV? Is he happy in his new role doing radio? 

Those answers, plus his incredible stories from his playing days when the schedule was ridiculous, the money was nothing and some of the all-time greatest players were his teammates can be heard on the pod. As you know, Jim was a baller in his own right. It was great to get to know him even better. 

Listen to the podcast by clicking here, or search “Runnin’ Plays” on Apple, Spotify or wherever you like to listen. 

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.