How Warriors' NBA draft research is affected by coronavirus pandemic

How Warriors' NBA draft research is affected by coronavirus pandemic

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.”

[RELATED: Kevin Durant tests positive for coronavirus]

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.

What Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala thinks of NBA's bubble environment

What Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala thinks of NBA's bubble environment

Andre Iguodala has played over 1,100 NBA games, but his next eight (at least) will be very different. Iguodala and the Miami Heat are in Orlando preparing for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season.

So, how is the former Warriors forward approaching the "bubble" at Disney World?

"It's not really a different type of environment," the 2015 NBA Finals MVP said Saturday after practice. "The majority of the league comes from low to middle-class income families. We played in worse conditions. Obviously the NBA and every team should be giving all the players all the resources they need.

"It's just getting the mental side right, making the most of the moment and putting forth the mental and physical effort to keep our game in a healthy place ... we're doing it as a collective. We're competing on the court, but hopefully the players are getting a chance to interact and keep each other in a good mental space."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Iguodala -- one of the smartest players in the entire league -- understands the big picture and what's at stake for the NBA. He knows it won't be easy for everybody and that the logistics present challenges, but is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. So don't expect to hear any complaints from Iguodala when it comes to the food or accommodations in Orlando.

At 36 years old, it probably will take Iguodala a little longer to get himself to where he needs to be physically. But he made sure he put in the work while the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The body is solid," Iguodala said. "Just looking over the little nicks that may come up from being off so long ... everyone was getting after it throughout this time."

[RELATED: Spoelstra credits Iguodala's Warriors tenure for leadership]

Iguodala averaged just 4.4 points in 18.5 minutes over his first 14 games with the Heat.

But you definitely should expect his production and value to increase when the playoffs begin in mid-August.

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Why Kendrick Perkins gives Draymond Green 'D' grade for 2019-20 season

Why Kendrick Perkins gives Draymond Green 'D' grade for 2019-20 season

Kendrick Perkins gets paid to express his opinion.

And on Tuesday's episode of "The Jump" on ESPN, he voiced his thoughts on Draymond Green's 2019-20 campaign.

"Draymond disappointed me this season," the former NBA big man said. "I thought with the injury to Klay (Thompson) and the injury to Steph (Curry) he was gonna elevate his game offensively and shock the world. With him getting $100 million in the contract extension, I thought Draymond was gonna come out and prove a point.

"Also with them losing Kevin Durant, I thought we would see 'Defensive Player of the Year Draymond' ... (but) he took a few steps backwards. My expectations for Draymond Green were a little bit higher, and he didn't achieve it."

The truth is that it was a very, very frustrating year for Draymond.

The three-time NBA champion missed 22 games with various ailments, yet picked up a league-high 14 technical fouls. He shot below 39 percent from the field and less than 28 percent from 3-point range.

But as noted before, yours truly forever will give Draymond a pass for what transpired. There wasn't much incentive at all for the three-time All-Star after Steph broke his hand Oct. 30 against the Phoenix Suns, as the Warriors had no chance of reaching the postseason.

The truth is that Draymond needed a break -- physically and mentally -- after averaging 37.7 minutes over 104 Golden State playoff games from 2015 to 2019.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

It's unclear why Perkins would expect the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year to produce big considering he didn't have Steph, Klay, KD, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the court with him.

"To everybody out there who want to talk s--t about this year -- I don't really give a f--k," Draymond said in April on the "All the Smoke" podcast. "In my opinion, I got better. I got better as a player, I got better as a person and a leader ... and that's gonna make me even better for next year.

"So, I appreciate everybody talking. I kind of needed them to relight that fire under my a--."

[RELATED: Beef squashed? Draymond, Barkley team up on TV show]

Draymond definitely pays attention to what is being said about him, his teammates and the Warriors. He uses the noise as motivation when necessary.

Needless to say, the three-time All-Star wants to send a message to the doubters.

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