The Warriors didn't get any extra luck in their last four NBA Draft Lottery appearances, but things mostly worked out.
Golden State didn't move up or down three of those times, coming away with Steph Curry (No. 7 overall in 2009), Klay Thompson (No. 11 in 2011) and Harrison Barnes (No. 7 in 2012). Drafting the "Splash Brothers" and a key piece from the Warriors' first two NBA Finals appearances under coach Steve Kerr? That'll work.
The Warriors' lack of lottery luck hasn't worked out nearly as well (for the most part) since the NBA instituted the format in 1985. Golden State would've been in the lottery Tuesday, until the NBA pushed it (and the draft) back indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Warriors had the NBA's worst record when the season was suspended in March, giving them the inside track to the best odds for the No. 1 pick.
Previous appearances in the lottery won't have any bearing on this year's draft, but the Warriors' counterintuitive history in the lottery is worth examining. Golden State has fallen far more often in the lottery than it has risen, drafting some cornerstones in the process. The same can't be said for the handful of times the balls bounced the Warriors' way.
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In all, the Warriors' pick ended up in a worse position than their lottery odds eight times. Their pick belonged to the Atlanta Hawks when it happened in in 1989 and 1999, but the other six picks make up a largely positive mixed bag.
The Warriors fell back five spots in 1985, drafting Chris Mullin No. 7 overall. They fell back two spots in 1988 and picked Mitch Richmond at No. 5. For those counting at home, the Warriors drafted two-thirds of the iconic "Run TMC" -- and two eventual Basketball Hall of Famers -- as a result of falling in the lottery. Even though Richmond's Golden State tenure lasted just three seasons, you take that every time.
Falling a spot in 1998 allowed the Warriors to draft Vince Carter at No. 5 overall, though they traded him to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Antawn Jamison. Dropping three spots to No. 5 in 2001, Golden State picked Jason Richardson. The Warriors would almost certainly want a do-over on the Carter trade and staying in place three years later could've made Pau Gasol or Tyson Chandler a Warrior, but Golden State picked a very good player at that spot in both instances.
Even slipping two spots in 2010 mostly worked out. Ekpe Udoh didn't do much in the Bay, but the Warriors sent him to the Milwaukee Bucks to land Andrew Bogut. Having the No. 6 overall pick played a role in the Warriors winning their first title in four decades, even as Greg Monroe and Paul George were still on the board.
2002 is another story. The Warriors had the best odds to win the lottery and draft Yao Ming No. 1 overall, but they fell to No. 3 and had to settle for Mike Dunleavy. Dunleavy became a fan favorite and Yao struggled with injuries during his career, but missing out on an eight-time All-Star and eventual Hall of Famer -- with global marketing appeal to boot -- has to sting.
It can't sting as much as the few times the Warriors actually had good luck in the lottery, though. The Warriors have only moved up in the lottery three times: 1986 (one spot), 1993 and 1995 (four spots).
Golden State's picks in those drafts? Chris Washburn (No. 4 overall, 1986), Penny Hardaway (No. 3 in 1993, ltraded for Chris Webber) and Joe Smith (No. 1, 1995). Washburn, Webber and Smith combined to play parts of six seasons with the Warriors (seven, if you count Webber's late-career return before retiring).
The Warriors have stayed put 10 other times, drafting stars (Curry and Thompson), mainstays (Barnes, Mickaël Piétrus and Adonal Foyle), outright busts (Todd Fuller, Ike Diogu and Patrick O'Bryant) and everything in between (Andris Biedrins and Anthony Randolph). Those picks, really, give the Warriors their most important lottery lesson.
Long after the balls are drawn, the Warriors will be measured on who they draft rather than where.