The Warriors are in a strange spot. They own the 14th pick in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft, which has very little chance of moving up in the NBA Draft Lottery, but they have the potential for a game-changing pick inside the top 10.
Lottery balls will determine whether the Minnesota Timberwolves move into the top three and retain their pick or whether the selection is relayed to the Warriors as part of the Andrew Wiggins- D'Angelo Russell swap from a few years back.
It is slightly complicated, but if the pick lands outside of the top three, the Warriors have a mathematical chance to select at either pick No. 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10. That leaves a wide variety of players that can help the team, but also some additional firepower if they choose to move on from the pick.
If the pick moves to No. 4, there are likely three players the Warriors should hone in on. Cade Cunningham will go No. 1 overall and it’s very unlikely that Evan Mobley falls out of the top 3 in any scenario. That means that two out of the three of Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga will be available at No. 4.
All three of these players fit long-term with the Warriors. Suggs is a high-level two-way point guard who can play off the ball while he learns the ropes from Steph Curry. He plays the game like a quarterback running a football team and in a different year, he would be in contention for the No. 1 overall pick.
Green is a smooth shooting wing with elite athleticism, but he’ll need time to develop. He showed incredible ability for his age in the G League bubble and word around the Ignite camp is that the 19-year-old is a sponge and extremely coachable.
Kuminga is a physical forward who can defend multiple positions and has solid upside as a scorer. Like Green, he was impactful for the Ignite in the G League Bubble, although his ceiling might not be as high as some of the other players in the top five.
If the Warriors fall in the 6-10 range, they will have plenty of options as well, but the overall potential from this group may not be as high as the group at the top.
In this area of the draft, you’ll hear names like Scottie Barnes out of Florida State, Keon Johnson from Tennessee, Arkansas’s Moses Moody, Cory Kispert from Gonzaga and Baylor’s Davion Mitchell.
There is another group in this range who could move up during the draft process, including players like James Bouknight, Jalen Johnson and Josh Giddey, but they are more of a stretch at this point in the process.
Golden State has plenty of holes to fill in its rotation, both short and long-term. Barnes has earned comparisons to Draymond Green for his versatility, defensive potential and fiery personality. He can play either forward position, but likely will settle into the four as he grows as a player. Barnes will need to develop as an offensive player, but he showed an ability to play one through four at the college level and he’s a player a team can run their offense through.
Keon Johnson is raw. He has tremendous upside, but he needs a ton of work, especially on his decision-making and 3-point approach. On the plus side, he has elite athleticism and he loves to compete. Tennessee flamed out in the tournament, but Johnson’s heart and hustle didn’t go unnoticed.
Moody had some highs and lows in the tournament as well, but he projects as a nice 3-and-D wing ready to step on the court early in his career. He has good size and length to play either the two or the three at the next level and there is potential for him to be more than a role player on the offensive side of the ball.
Kispert and Mitchell are the veterans of this group. The two battled in the national championship game, with Mitchell’s Baylor squad coming out on top. Kispert is one of the best shooters in the draft and he can step in and play on Day 1 after four years at Gonzaga.
Mitchell is a lockdown defender who can play either guard position. He also found his 3-point range, knocking down 44.7 percent from deep in his junior season. The 23-year-old is flying up draft boards after his tournament performance. He might not be a true point guard, but his ability to play bigger than his size on the defense and stretch the floor on offense makes him slightly unique in the modern NBA.
Outside of this group, Bouknight is a high-end scorer with nice NBA size for a shooting guard. His 3-point percentage was lower than expected, but he was forced to carry a tremendous scoring load for UConn. There is a good chance that he develops into a long-term starter at the NBA level.
Jalen Johnson is a top-tier talent, but he has more question marks than any player in the first round after stepping away from Duke before the end of the season. There isn’t a bigger high-risk, high-reward player in the draft, but with the talent in the six-to-10 range, it’s hard to see a team gambling on Johnson in the lottery.
Giddey is a dark horse to jump up into the top end of the draft, but the 6-foot-8 point guard put on a show as an 18-year-old playing professionally in Australia. He’s a triple-double threat with a crazy basketball IQ and plenty of room to grow.
The June 22nd Draft Lottery could be a make-or-break moment for the Warriors. They will have options from four to 10, but they could still lose the selection and be left waiting for next season. With an aging roster, that might be a worst-case scenario. Golden State has a lot riding on a little lottery luck.