OAKLAND -– The Warriors came out of the NBA Draft Thursday night with two players they readily concede are not ready to play meaningful minutes for them.
Yet general manager Bob Myers believes both 7-foot center Damian Jones and 6-7 wing Patrick McCaw are capable of quickly growing into such a role on the Warriors.
“He can get better,” Myers said of Jones. “He actually has to get better, all these guys, both him and Patrick McCaw. To make it in the league and to become what we hope they can, they have to improve.”
Jones, who turns 21 on June 30, underwent surgery last week to repair a torn pectoral muscle. The center from Vanderbilt, taken in the first round with the 30th overall pick, will not participate in the Las Vegas Summer League but the Warriors are hopeful he can return for training camp in September.
“Getting a guy like him was worth waiting, even if it goes into the season,” Myers said. “Because we didn’t think he’d even be there (on the board) but for that.
“It’s not something that should linger or become chronic. But I don’t expect to see him, definitely not in summer league, probably not at the start of camp. But we’ll see when he gets back.”
Jones, who sustained the injury lifting weights, impressed in person and at the pre-draft combine in Chicago. He’s a superb athlete with a 36-inch standing vertical leap and a wingspan of nearly 7-4.
With pre-draft comps ranging from Jermaine O’Neal to current Warrior Festus Ezeli, the biggest question on Jones seems to be whether he can consistently exhibit tenacity. He expressed last fall, before his junior season, a desire to enter the 2016 draft class and displayed increased intensity once the season got under way.
The Warriors didn’t own a second-round pick, so they bought one, sending $2.4 million to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to UNLV’s McCaw.
McCaw, 20, is a defense-first player whose offense ticked up in his junior season, after which he declared for the draft. He owns a 6-10 wingspan and also is athletically above average.
McCaw declared for the draft after his junior season with the Rebels. The plan is that McCaw, taken 38th overall, will participate in Summer League.
“We expect him to be on the team,” Myers said. “We expect him to sign a contract with us, and I think that’s what we’ll end up doing. And we have good expectations for him. He’s a guy that we had at even higher than 30 on our board.”
“It’s going to be hard for either of these guys to get big minutes,” Myer said. “Jones has to get healthy and McCaw has got some pretty good players in front of him. We’re not an old team. But we’re not really a young team anymore. So we want to keep that cupboard filled with youth.”
The Warriors did consider moving up in the first round, Myers conceded, but did not feel they had a way to make it work.
As it is, they found a way to take one more player than they knew they’d have an opportunity to draft.