Warriors' pick clear if Ball goes No. 1, Nate Duncan believes


The Warriors' options with the No. 2 selection are starting to crystalize with a little over a week to go until the 2020 NBA Draft, however slowly.

That's largely because of the reported expectation among NBA front offices that LaMelo Ball will be the No. 1 overall pick, thus allowing LaVar Ball to finally make good on a prediction about one of his sons. If Ball's off the board when the it's Golden State's turn on Nov. 18, longtime NBA writer and podcaster Nate Duncan believes the Warriors have a clear choice with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

"I think James Wiseman is probably the guy for them at No. 2," Duncan told NBC Sports Bay Area's Grant Liffmann on the latest edition of the "Runnin' Plays" podcast. "He fills a positional need, which is probably overstated because few, if any, rookies of that age are gonna contribute to a potential championship-level team in Year 1."

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Wiseman played just three games for Memphis last season rather than finish out an NCAA-issued 12-game suspension over eligibility issues, but his blend of size, athleticism and upside could tantalize the Warriors. The 19-year-old's ceiling far exceeds the contributions of Golden State's centers since Steve Kerr was hired in 2014, and both Kerr and star point guard Steph Curry have said the Warriors need more size. Wiseman, standing 7-foot-1, certainly checks that box.


You wouldn't expect anything less in an unprecedentedly long draft season where uncertainty is a valuable commodity, but the Warriors also have had strong links to Georgia guard Anthony Edwards. Draymond Green attended Edwards' pro day, NBC Sports Bay Area's James Ham projected the Warriors would select Edwards in our latest mock draft and the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau has reported multiple times the Warriors "likely" would draft Edwards were he available.

Duncan, on the other hand, isn't exactly sold on Edwards' fit in the Bay Area.

"Anthony Edwards doesn't really seem like that type of guy that would fit into the Warriors' system," Duncan continued. "He's not really known as a high-IQ player, which they certainly value. He is a wing, but his defensive effort is not very high, either, and Wiseman ... does have that Rudy Gobert type of physical tools, and probably the ability to be a better offensive player than Rudy Gobert as well, and he's a good kid and I think that's something they're really going to value as well.

"So, my guess would be that it would be Wiseman at [No. 2], not based on any inside information at all, but just based on what the team needs and who the players are that are available."

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In Duncan's eyes, the Warriors' plans will change depending on what happens a pick prior. If Ball's still available, Duncan believes the 19-year-old guard would be a no-brainer for the Warriors at No. 2. Duncan noted that ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz reported Monday that the expectation around the league is that Ball won't be available after the first pick, so Golden State might not get the chance.

Of course, the Warriors might not have the chance to select Wiseman. ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Monday on "The Jump" that the Charlotte Hornets are interested in trading up to select the young big man. Ball would be Duncan's choice, but it's also possible the Warriors trade down if Wiseman's not there.

The Warriors' plans unquestionably will be shaped by which player is taken first. If Ball is, Duncan doesn't think Golden State will need much time to decide.