Bears Insider

Duarte models game after Klay, could fill major Warriors need

Bears Insider
Chris Duarte

The Warriors enter a critical offseason needing to find a way to put more talent around Steph Curry, but have few realistic paths to achieve that goal.

Golden State is eagerly awaiting the return of Klay Thompson (torn Achilles), but it's unlikely he'll be back for Opening Night and probably won't be back to his peak level until well into the season. Even when Thompson returns, the Warriors know they need more shooting next to Curry on the wing and might be able to find an ideal fit in a prospect who models his game after Thompson.

Oregon's Chris Duarte, 24, is coming off a fantastic season for the Ducks in which he averaged 17.1 points per game while shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from 3-point range. Duarte sat down with ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz for a film study and named Thompson, Kobe Bryant and Devin Booker as three players who he has tried to mold his game after.

Duarte's quick release and ability to get his shot off the dribble, coming off screens and on the catch-and-shoot certainly can remind you of a young Thompson coming out of Washington State. Plus, Duarte's nose for the ball on defense and an ability and desire to guard multiple positions on the wing at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan reminds of Thompson as well.

The Oregon product's draft stock is rising after his impressive season in Eugene, and he very well could be what the Warriors are looking for when they go on the clock likely in the middle of the first round.


The Warriors are slotted into the No. 14 spot pre-lottery. Golden State also owns the rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected first-round pick. The Timberwolves are slotted at No. 6 pre-lottery.

Golden State faces a roster-building dilemma going forward. Curry is 33 while Thompson and Draymond Green both are 31. Their championship clocks are ticking. The Warriors drafted James Wiseman at No. 2 overall last fall. While the 20-year-old showed flashes of great potential, it's clear he is a ways away from being a consistent supporting piece on a title-contending team.

If the Warriors are going to keep and use one or two lottery picks this offseason, those players can't fall into the long-term project category. They have to be able to help in a consistent way from the jump.

"You have to make some educated guesses, and so it's really about being helpful in some way," president of basketball operations Bob Myers said in his year-end press conference when asked about potentially adding two more draft picks. "Helping the team win. I think that would be the goal with any rookie we add, can this guy lead to winning in the minutes he is on the floor?"

RELATED: Steph makes bold NBA Finals prediction

Duarte has two skills that the Warriors' roster missed coming off the bench this past season. Duarte would give the Warriors a solid 3-and-D wing coming off the bench who can help space the floor, finish at the rim and be a solid defender.

Duarte's age also should intrigue the Warriors. Yes, he's the oldest prospect in the draft but that kind of maturity should fit in well with a Warriors team looking to jump back into title contention and with no time to bring a prospect along slowly.

Duarte's skills should translate immediately to the NBA. He has shown he is a multi-dimensional shooter, a savvy driver who makes up for his lack of athleticism with physicality and a tough defender who forces turnovers through effort and intensity.

He has the makings of a plug-and-play 3-and-D wing with the potential to grow into more.

Duarte likely doesn't have Thompson's NBA ceiling, but he has enough of the best parts of Thompson's game to come in and give the Warriors a boost on both ends of the floor and give Golden State consistent valuable minutes in an area of need.

Download and subscribe to the Dubs Talk Podcast