Warriors

Green, Kuminga show why they should be high on Warriors' list

Warriors
Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga

There's plenty to get excited about when it comes to the Warriors right now.

The star power is still there. The roster is deep and intriguing. James Wiseman looks spectacular. And there's every reason to believe Golden State will compete for a playoff spot in the season ahead, which begins just one week from today.

But it's not just the Warriors' present that is driving excitement. It's their not-too-distant future, as well.

No matter what happens with the Warriors this season, it seems like a very good bet that they'll be in position to add a tremendous prospect in next year's draft. They have the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round pick, and just based on how the T-Wolves have looked thus far in what is a very abbreviated preseason, there's a strong chance it conveys -- but not by much.

The Timberwolves look bad. Really bad. They're not so terrible that they'll finish with the worst record in the West, but they're going to be very close to the bottom. Luckily for the Warriors, there's a handful of teams that should be even worse, like the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons. As such, the Timberwolves are right in the Warriors' sweet spot. They're going to be bad enough to where their 2021 first-rounder is extremely valuable, but not so bad that they'll get to keep it.

 

Yes, there's always a chance that Minnesota could jump into the top three picks in the draft lottery, but there are enough teams that project to be worse than the Timberwolves that makes that rather unlikely. Consequently, it would be reasonable to expect the Warriors to end up with a selection somewhere between, say, the fourth and eighth overall picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.

And, in case you haven't heard, the 2021 draft is absolutely loaded. It is regarded as the best draft class in several years, and is particularly concentrated with talented wing prospects, which just happens to project as the Warriors' biggest need.

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Barring a trade of monstrous proportions, we know Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Wiseman will be on the team next season. Kelly Oubre Jr. potentially could re-sign, but that would be extremely expensive. A lot can obviously change between now and the draft, but in the modern NBA, you can never have enough wings. And whether or not Oubre Jr. returns, the Warriors could use at least one more.

The good news is there's an abundance of wing prospects who project to be future All-Stars. And the Warriors will have their choice of several of them when they come up on the clock.

It seems like every game that has been played in the NCAA men's basketball season thus far has featured at least one of those prospects. There's a lot of them, and they're spread around the country. But that doesn't include a handful of elite prospects who are members of the G League Ignite team, which is based in the Warriors' very own backyard in Walnut Creek.

That Ignite team participated in its first scrimmage Tuesday against a team comprised of G League veterans, and two players that likely are very high on Golden State's list stood out. Jonathan Kuminga scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds, while Jalen Green added 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting and seven boards.

Green and Kuminga, both 18 years old, are ESPN's No. 3 and No. 9 ranked prospects, respectively, in the 2021 draft. They're both extremely athletic and fit the prototype of the modern NBA wing.

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Either player would be a tremendous addition to the Warriors' growing core, and could potentially give them yet another star player. As good as Wiseman looks, both Green and Kuminga currently are regarded as superior pro prospects.

Whether the Warriors end up with one of them or any of the other number of tantalizing prospects projected to go in the lottery, they could land a player who allows them to continue the recent dynasty, or even begin a new one. As exciting as the Warriors' present is, the not-too-distant future is looking brighter and brighter.