Warriors

NBA Draft 2020: Who Warriors should take if they can't trade No. 1 pick

NBA Draft 2020: Who Warriors should take if they can't trade No. 1 pick

The Warriors' season came to a close when the NBA first shut down on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their prep for the draft, however, only ramped up. 

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Warriors are guaranteed a top pick in this year's draft. Thanks to a NBA-worst 15-50 record, Golden State has a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, tied for the best odds in the league. The Warriors also won't know just how high they pick until the lottery is held on Aug. 25. 

But in the case the Warriors do receive the top pick in the draft, which will be held on Oct. 16, what player should they add?

Trading the pick might be the fastest way to restart the Warriors' dynasty, but what if they can't find a team willing to make a deal? Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole and former Warriors general manager Garry St. Jean were tasked with playing GM for the day. They had to argue who they would take No. 1 overall if the Warriors had to keep their selection. 

St. Jean, who served as both a head coach and GM in the NBA, went the safest route. 

"They take the best player that they have up on their board," St. Jean said. "Don't worry about position. People get caught up in that. ... Take the best player."

Now, who's the top player on the Warriors' big board? There's no way to know, but Mullin and Poole both have their own evaluations. They argued between two big men, plus a long guard. 

James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Wiseman, the top recruit in the nation going into last season, only played three games as a freshman but it was enough for Mullin. The Warriors legend loved what he saw from the athletic center. 

"I like Wiseman. I just think he's the type of player that can come in immediately," Mullin said. "He runs the floor like a gazelle, he can finish around the rim. With that spread offense, he puts pressure on with those lobs and I think he'll block shots." 

The 19-year-old is listed at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds. It was a small sample size, but he proved his talent by averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game before NCAA violations forced him to leave Memphis and prepare for the draft. Golden State must have been impressed, too. The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported in early June that the Warriors already have met with Wiseman over Zoom.

"I like Wiseman because I can see him being able to produce on Day 1 with the things that he's good at," Mullin said.

Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

Mullin and Poole agree the Warriors could go big with their top pick. But Poole has a different center in mind. Meet USC's Onyeka Okongwu.

"There's a guy at USC -- Onyeka Okongwu -- who reminds me a lot of Bam Adebayo in Miami," Poole said. "And Bam, as we all know, Bam is the kind of guy everybody wants to have on their team."

Adebayo, 22, turned into a star this season for the Heat. In his third year as a pro, he made his first All-Star Game, averaging 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Okongwu and Adebayo both are listed as small centers at 6-9, but they also both have 7-1 wingspans.

And Okongwu knows how to stuff a stat sheet, too. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game as a freshman.

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

Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

The Warriors easily could decide to stay away from a big man. They already have a young one in Marquese Chriss and still believe in Kevon Looney. They also have shown they don't need a star center to win a title. 

If they continue their "small ball" philosophy, Haliburton could be the perfect choice. 

"The other guy I would consider is Haliburton, because he's a tweener," Poole said, "if you're looking for someone who can fill the gap with the loss of both Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston." 

Haliburton is listed at 6-5, and does just about everything well. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported Tuesday the Warriors are "high" on what Haliburton can do. His college coach also said Haliburton would be a great fit for Golden State. Perhaps the 20-year-old will be sharing the same back court as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson later this year.

[RELATED: Warriors, Kings pick versatility in latest NBA mock draft]

So ... who will it be?

Wiseman, Okongwu or Haliburton all would make the Warriors better. Any time you can add a young, talented asset, your franchise becomes stronger. 

The Warriors will have a tough decision to make, however, Poole believes they might have their eyes on his favorite big man.

"I think they'll go big," he said. "If they have a choice between my two guys, they'll go with Okongwu. He's a super athlete. In a draft where the top five, six, seven or eight guys aren't that far apart, I'm going with him."

NBA rumors: Warriors wouldn't have let Steph Curry play in Orlando

NBA rumors: Warriors wouldn't have let Steph Curry play in Orlando

The NBA reportedly is considering creating a second "bubble" in Chicago for the eight teams that were not included in the Orlando bubble as part of the league's expanded playoff format. Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Thursday that Golden State potentially would participate, despite coach Steve Kerr previously insisting that the Dubs would not be interested in such a setup.

It remains to be seen if the second bubble will actually take place, but even if it does, it sure seems like you won't be seeing Steph Curry play in it. ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reported he wouldn't have played in Orlando had the Warriors qualified, and it begs the question as to why Chicago would be any different.

"I was told unequivocally by people at Golden State," MacMullan said Thursday on the "Hoop Collective" podcast, "if Golden State came back (to play in Orlando) they weren't gonna let Steph Curry step foot on the floor."

"The reason they were worried about Steph Curry," MacMullan added, "was because they didn't feel that he had played enough to come back."

So, there you have it. The Warriors arguably would have very little to gain from participating in the Chicago bubble, and given that there is no championship at stake -- like there is in Orlando -- Golden State doesn't have much motivation to send its star veteran players, especially those that are returning from injury.

Curry played in precisely one of the Warriors' final 61 games before the season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic after returning from a broken wrist. And if he isn't going to play, you can bet Klay Thompson -- who would be returning from a torn ACL -- won't either.

[RELATED: Stephen A believes Warriors will return to title contention]

Draymond Green previously said that he would have played in Orlando, but if the Splash Brothers are out, why would Golden State risk the health of the other remaining piece of its championship core?

The Warriors need to find a way to stay in basketball shape and continue developing chemistry over what is going to be an extremely long layoff before the start of next season. But if Curry, Thompson and Green aren't involved, then that kind of ruins the whole point.

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

Warriors would gain little partaking in NBA's proposed 'second bubble'

Warriors would gain little partaking in NBA's proposed 'second bubble'

Insofar as the Warriors run a fairly democratic operation, with each player having a voice and the core veterans operating as advisers to head coach Steve Kerr, an invitation to become part of a proposed but not approved second NBA “bubble” presents a dilemma.

If mandated by the NBA, they’ll go, whether it’s Chicago or Las Vegas or another site. That the vets – Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson -- would not be expected to play makes the team’s participation cursory, if not downright pointless.

Yet general manager Bob Myers recently said the Warriors would be “team players” and, in the end, do whatever is best for the league.

“You have to take a step back and say, ‘We’re going to be good partners,’” he said in a phone conversation. “We’re going to do what’s best for the league in a difficult environment.”

Understand, the Warriors don’t want to be there -- and why should they? Their 2019-20 season is over, and there is no definitive start date for 2020-2021. They’d be scrimmaging, at potentially increased risk of the coronavirus (COVID-19), with the crew that absorbed most of the minutes last season.

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

Which brings us to their real desire. They want to gather as a group before the next training camp, currently penciled in for November. Kerr told me a few weeks ago that he “wouldn’t mind” getting his team together for what amounts to a minicamp in the middle of an offseason extended by the pandemic.

Coaches want it, and so do the players. They all would like the experience of playing with each other, which didn’t exist last season. Thompson missed the entire season, and Curry played four games, only one with Andrew Wiggins, who came over in a February trade.

Ideally, that would occur at Chase Center, which has opened for individual activities with attendance limitations but remains suspended for full team activities.

[RELATED: Why these 10 big men could fit Warriors in free agency]

Should the day come when the current restrictions are relaxed, expect the Warriors to identify a week to get everyone inside. Get Thompson on the floor with Wiggins and others, scrimmaging together for the first time. Evaluate how Curry and Green have responded to the long layoff.

That would be productive, as well as their first blowout activity since early March.

Going into a second bubble, with a stripped-down squad, confined to a hotel for a week or two, is something the Warriors are willing to do. Willing, but hardly eager and barely engaged.