Warriors

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

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Illustration by Tara Funk

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

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.

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

Why Draymond Green believes Andrew Wiggins can be All-Defensive player

SAN FRANCISCO – When Andrew Wiggins came to the Warriors two weeks ago in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, it was as if he arrived with five unwanted tattoos scripted across his 6-foot-8 frame.

Doesn’t play defense.

Doesn’t shoot the 3-ball.

Doesn’t have a passion to be great.

Doesn’t love the game.

Doesn’t, repeating for emphasis, play defense.

Draymond Green, one of Wiggins’ new teammates, is on a quest to remove those invisible tats. Green fully believes they can fade into history, thereby reshaping the reputation attached to Wiggins over five-plus seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I think he can be an All-Defensive (team) player,” Green said after practice Wednesday. “That’s one of my goals for him, as the leader of this team, one of my things that I really want to push him on. He has all the tools. He has the athleticism. He reminds me a lot of Kevin (Durant), where they’re both long and lanky, but agile and can move. Very skinny guys, but not weak. From that aspect, it reminds me a lot of Kevin.

“Kevin’s a great defender. If (Wiggins) can continue to build on that, which I think he can ... on the defensive end, he can be really, really good.”

Wiggins’ defensive stats generally rate at the bottom levels, but there is reason to believe in appreciable improvement. His 2016-17 defensive rating of 107.9 was identical to that of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who entered the league one year earlier. Wiggins has twice over the past four seasons posted better individual defensive ratings than Trevor Ariza, who still maintains a reputation as a solid, if declining, defender.

Those numbers don’t vary much from those Wiggins posts in defensive win shares and defensive box plus/minus.

Such statistics, however, only hint at a player’s impact, rarely capturing the complete tale. There is plenty of video exposing Wiggins’ defensive ineffectiveness, and every one of them is with him as a part of a Timberwolves defense that annually ranked among the NBA’s worst.

Minnesota ranked no higher than 24th in defensive rating in any of the five full seasons with Wiggins on the roster. Only once over that span did the Timberwolves reach the playoffs.

“The thought wasn’t that he was a bad defender, anyway,” Green said, pointing out that the Warriors never sought to target him on that end. “He just hasn’t really been in a winning situation. And that’s when the defense gets the notoriety. He hasn’t been in that situation.”

Green also pushed back on the notion that Wiggins is low on desire, in the NBA perhaps for reasons other than love of the game.

“He wants to be great,” Green said. “He’s a guy who has been beat down a lot. Once again, people never talk about the situation guys are in. He wants to be great. He’s not demonstrative. He’s not very talkative. People would never say that or see it.

“But just talking to him, trying to get to know him and watching him work, he wants to be really good. I take that upon myself as a leader of this team, as one of the older guys on this team ... I want to help him do that any way I can.”

Not grasping, or even observing, reasons for the many critiques of Wiggins’ game, Draymond’s assessment is of a 23-year-old still building a career that has been no worse than respectable.

“That guy has averaged 20 points a game (actually 19.7) for three or four years, probably over his career,” Green said. “It’s not a f---ing bum we’re talking about. So, I’m not going to sit here and act like we found some diamond-in-the-rough that no one (knew about). He was the No. 1 pick. He’s averaged 20. He’s a player.”

[RELATED: Draymond jokes about wanting buyout from Warriors]

Green has spent the past few seasons providing guidance, offering constructive criticism while also giving his share of pep talks. Those things didn’t seem to move D’Angelo Russell, a tremendous scorer who plays to a beat only he can hear.

Wiggins is more malleable. And listening closely to Draymond’s vociferous defense of his new teammate, while also vowing full support, it’s clear that his new project is one in which he believes.

Warriors' Draymond Green jokes about wanting buyout to join playoff team

Warriors' Draymond Green jokes about wanting buyout to join playoff team

Breaking news: The Warriors are not going to the playoffs this season.

That means they have 27 games left and the offseason begins after the final horn sounds at around 9:30 p.m. PT on April 15.

So what does Draymond Green want to accomplish before the 2019-20 campaign comes to an end?

"A buyout," the three-time NBA champion told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "Go to a playoff team."

After a couple seconds, he smiled and said: "I'm just playing."

Draymond, whose four-year contract extension worth just under $100 million begins next season, has never missed the postseason since entering the league as the No. 35 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

It's going to be very strange for him to view the games from afar.

It's safe to assume that in addition to checking out the games on TV, Draymond probably will watch a lot of film on the top draft prospects as the Warriors most likely will have a top-five pick.

[RELATED: Why Kerr isn't entertaining idea of Klay playing this season]

But that's a conversation for another day. Green and his teammates have a job to do the next two months.

"Just trying to continue to get more rhythm with the guys that are here, continue to help them improve," Draymond said. "And really just work on my own game. Not often you get the opportunity to work on your game in a game setting.

"These games matter, but they don't matter. You're not playing for seeding or trying to preserve your legs for the playoffs. So you really get the chance to work on some things in game situations."

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