The Warriors find themselves in a world they never could have imagined. After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and three championships, they now might have the draft lottery on their minds.
Entering Sunday, the 2-8 Warriors were a half-game ahead of the Grizzlies, Knicks and Pelicans for the worst record in the entire NBA. So, for the first time under the Joe Lacob/Peter Guber ownership group, Golden State has the league's worst record after the 10-game mark.
The Warriors already have been handed prospects such as Scottie Lewis and Deni Avdija in recent mock drafts, but those came with the team picking at Nos. 10 and 7, respectively. Even though 72 regular-season games remain, it could be time to start thinking about the Warriors owning the No. 1 overall pick.
With Steph Curry out for at least three months because of a broken hand, Draymond Green dealing with a torn ligament in his left index finger, and injuries piling up like they're free at a garage sale, the Warriors' talent has been depleted despite their constant strong efforts. So, who should they have their eyes on for next June?
Let's look at some of the top prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft.
James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA's No Fun Police on Friday, but a Shelby County judge halted the ruling for the time being, later that day. When Wiseman is on the floor, however long that might be, he looks like possibly the best fit for the Warriors, as well as the best player in the country.
The 7-foot freshman was the top recruit in the country for a reason, and through two games, he is averaging 22.5 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks over 23.5 minutes per contest for Memphis.
Just got around to watching James Wiseman's debut from opening night against South Carolina State. Good god, have mercy, what he did to those poor kids is illegal in approximately 17 states. If he plays with this kind of intensity all year, its a wrap. pic.twitter.com/PQIraNlX64— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) November 8, 2019
With his size and explosiveness, Wiseman easily should be a lob threat and big-shot blocker right away at the next level. He has the skill and upside to work on post moves, and quickly add an outside game as well.
Surrounding Wiseman with shooters like Curry, Klay Thompson and D'Angelo Russell could be a dream scenario for the Warriors.
Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina
No other big man is close to Wiseman when it comes to next year's draft. It's likely that a run of guards and small forwards will be called atop the lottery, but the Warriors can't worry about fit.
Even with such a star-studded roster when healthy, Golden State should add the best player available if it's selecting No. 1. At the worst, the pick becomes one of the most valuable assets in the game and could be an early contributor off the bench if he doesn't fit in the Warriors' starting five.
Anthony looks about as pro-ready as any prospect, too. The son of former 11-year pro Greg Anthony, Cole has put on a show to begin his college career at North Carolina. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Anthony scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his first college game, a 76-65 win over Notre Dame.
Through two games, Anthony, the No. 2 recruit last year behind Wiseman, is averaging 27 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4 assists over 35.5 minutes per game.
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Edwards has played in only one game thus far, and looked like a star in Georgia's 91-72 win over Western Carolina. The sturdy 6-5, 225-pound shooting guard scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and also went 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 6, 2019
Edwards screams potential with his strength and explosiveness. He also could be an impressive slasher right away, and will use his athleticism to find ways to score. Edwards shot 7 of 16 from the field in his first game, and will have to prove he can be a consistent jump shooter in the NBA.
Comparisons to Donovan Mitchell will have lottery teams eyeing Edwards' every move.
LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
LaMelo, the younger brother of former No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, continues to be one of the more polarizing prospects in years. Questions about his maturity on and off the court quickly have gone away, as he has looked like one of the best players in Australia's NBL at just 18 years old.
Ball is a 6-7 point guard who sees the floor with next-level vision. He has touch around the rim, and should improve from beyond the arc with more strength and NBA coaches' help in tweaking his shooting form.
His ability to set up his teammates and control the game as a playmaker are extremely advanced, though. Ball is averaging 14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game as a pro in Australia.
24 PTS, 8 AST, 6 REB, 3 STL and 3 TOV on 9-of-21 shooting, including 5-of-11 3s for LaMelo Ball in a win over Cairns. Showed exactly why he's arguably the draft's most talented prospect. Still who I'd take at No. 1 if the draft were today, as I wrote here: https://t.co/A4i88ZbYiW pic.twitter.com/c2XjI3toyc— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) November 9, 2019
While questions will come regarding his father LaVar's antics, LaMelo shouldn't be judged on that, and it seems his draft stock only has risen.
Could the youngest Ball brother wind up in the Bay Area? It will be fascinating to watch.