At some point, and it’s impossible to know when, the world will go back to work and the healthy among us will return to something close to our normal routines and sports will come running happily back into our lives.
And a month or two later, as best we can guess, there will be an NBA draft unlike any the sport has known -- with the Warriors possibly being first in line to make a pick.
While the Warriors and the rest of us are rightfully focusing on our well-being and protecting those around us, coaches and personnel executives across are passing time by sitting in front of screens. They’re still analyzing players on their current rosters, but they’re putting a microscope over those in the pool of potential hires, most of whom are collegians.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers conceded Tuesday that until there is some indication the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to trend downward -- which could be at least a month away -- there is no knowing when teams can conduct in-person interviews, much less arrange individual workouts.
“The list of players will be smaller,” he said on an afternoon conference call. “I suppose that makes it easier, at least for our first-round pick.
“It’ll depend. Are allowed to talk to them in person? That’s a huge part of hiring anybody, which is what a draft pick is; you’re hiring somebody into your company. We’d like to be able to look at them and talk to them and we’d like to see them up close.”
Most teams spend the college basketball season compiling a list of players they love and like. By the time March rolls around, it’s mostly about fine-tuning.
But they’d also like to see how those athletes perform when the lights are brightest and the stakes are highest, which normally is right about now. The month of March is prime time, with the intensity of games increasing by the day and draft preparation intensifying by the hour.
With most conference championships canceled and the entire NCAA Tournament canceled, the Warriors’ player personnel executives and their network of scouts – most of whom spend March and early April living out of suitcases – have seen their normally gridlocked schedules wiped completely clean.
The Warriors will go into their most important draft since 2012 partially blindfolded. Their misfortune is easily trumped by a global health crisis, but it’s nonetheless a handicap.
They do, however, have an additional scout. Coach Steve Kerr, a former Suns GM, has spent each of the past five springs preparing for and coaching in the postseason but now finds himself in a position to provide semi-informed input regarding draft picks.
“I’m watching tape of some of our draft prospects,” Kerr said via conference call. “It’s something I haven’t been able to do much of over the years, and I hadn’t done any of it this year. I’m trying to use that time to get a feel for the guys who are on our list.”
When the Warriors study available big men, and they definitely are, 7-foot-1 James Wiseman is at the top of any list. He’s light on experience, but long on ability.
When they look at long wings with the tools to score, something they also love, Obi Toppin, a 6-foot-9 combo forward from Dayton is sure to be high on their list.
If they’re seeking a shooting guard/small forward, which at the moment is a lower priority, they’ll do no better than Georgia’s 6-5, 215-pound Anthony Edwards.
The absence of tournament play means they won’t see any of them in situations ideal for gaining information before making a long-term investment.
All NBA teams are in the same fix, but those anticipating the lottery are bound to feel it most.
“Not many people know much of anything right now,” Myers said, “whether it’s when we’re going to play, what the draft will look like, what the potential playoffs would look like, what the rest of the season might look like or how it’ll affect next year.
“We’ve done a good job of seeing most of these guys, but we’re operating with incomplete information. Every team will see this. It’s going to be imperfect. But all of this is highly imperfect.”
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Though most NBA draft boards are fairly complete, there are no more opportunities to make adjustments. To see a game and make a new discovery. To feel better than better about the choice to be made.
Every draft pick represents a risk. Perhaps never more than those selections in the 2020 NBA Draft. And the Warriors, along with those atop the draft, have it riskier than ever.