Warriors

NBA mock draft 2020: Warriors select guard RJ Hampton at No. 5 overall

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AP

NBA mock draft 2020: Warriors select guard RJ Hampton at No. 5 overall

Entering Monday, the Warriors (4-17) are a half-game ahead of the Hawks (4-16) and Knicks (4-16) for the worst record in the NBA. As Steph Curry continues to rehab and as the young Dubs grow as a team, plenty can change. 

But this season's Golden State squad seems destined for a high draft pick for the first time since selecting Harrison Barnes at No. 7 overall in 2012. 

Next season's team will resemble more of the dominant roster fans became accustomed to seeing. Curry will be back, as will fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, who could miss the entire 2019-20 season while rehabbing a torn ACL. They will be joined by Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and other familiar names. 

There won't be many holes to fill for a team expected to pick atop the draft. Adding a top prospect who could compete right away will be quite the luxury, and the Warriors could certainly find that this coming June.

So, who should general manager Bob Myers and the rest of the front office have their eyes on? ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz gave the Warriors guard RJ Hampton at No. 5 overall, and that could make plenty of sense. 

ESPN uses their Basketball Power Index to create the draft order, so in this scenario, the Knicks, Grizzlies, Hornets and Hawks all are picking ahead of Golden State. And guards LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and Cole Anthony, as well as center James Wiseman, have come off the board. That leaves the Warriors choosing the 6-foot-5 Hampton, who could serve as both a guard and wing. 

Hampton, 18, opted to play professionally for the New Zealand Breakers of Australia's NBL instead of going to college. Ball, who also plays in the NBL, gets more attention and puts up bigger numbers, but Hampton has less margin for error and might be a highly underrated prospect. 

Through 11 games, Hampton is averaging 10 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists over 22.6 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, he's averaging 15.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists. 

Hampton and Ball recently battled for the second time in the NBL, and while Ball recorded a triple-double, Hampton scored 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes and was plus-9 in the plus/minus. Ball was minus-13. Hampton was seen diving on the floor and fighting for rebounds as his team won, 91-79. 

After a season full of lessons and losses, the Warriors will want a prospect who they can trust right away. Hampton already is playing professionally against grown men, and is showing his desire to play defense and do the little things to win games.

His jump shot will need to continue to improve, though that shouldn't be a huge concern for teams in the draft. Hampton already has shown he has a feel for the game and a willingness to win, which should go a long way. 

[RELATED: Kerr to attend Draymond's MSU jersey retirement ceremony]

The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported in late November that Myers is planning a trip to watch Ball and Hampton in person. NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh personally believes Hampton is the better fit. 

We're nearly seven months away from the NBA draft, but Myers might find his man when he sees Hampton play.

Warriors' draft possibility LaMelo Ball out four weeks with foot injury

Warriors' draft possibility LaMelo Ball out four weeks with foot injury

Warriors general manager Bob Myers reportedly has been planning a trip to Australia to scout two potential NBA lottery picks, but he might want to postpone that now.

One of those two prospects -- the Illawarra Hawks' LaMelo Ball -- is expected to sit out the next four weeks with a bruised foot, the team announced Sunday.

Ball, of course, is the youngest brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, and he has improved his draft stock significantly over his first season in the Australian NBL, averaging 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 31 minutes per game. Ball is expected to make a full recovery in time to rejoin Illawarra before the end of the regular season in mid-February.

That timeline, however, will rule Ball out of a third highly-anticipated matchup with the New Zealand Breakers' R.J. Hampton -- the other aforementioned potential lottery pick -- that was scheduled for Dec. 22. Numerous scouts were expected to be in attendance for that head-to-head meeting, but that number likely will come down now. Hampton happens to be banged up, too, having missed the Breakers' game Sunday with a hip flexor injury.

The Warriors are expected to have a very high draft pick, and both Ball and Hampton currently appear to be in contention for the No. 1 overall selection. The two Australian-located prospects will have to fend off multiple stateside challengers, however, namely Memphis' James Wiseman, Georgia's Anthony Edwards and North Carolina's Cole Anthony.

[RELATED: Why R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball might interest Warriors]

Golden State already was going to have far more opportunities to scout those latter three names in person than the former two, and with Ball expected to be sidelined for at least a month, that difference has been further exacerbated.  

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

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USATSI

Why Warriors' next 10 games offer chance to encourage somber fan base

If any stretch of the season is ideal for the Warriors to toss their starving fans four or five crumbs, it is the next 10 games, beginning Monday night against the Grizzlies.

Reason No. 1: The Warriors are about as healthy as they’re going to be for at least the next three months. They could suit up 12 players against Memphis.

Reason No. 2: They’re at home for eight of the next 10 games, and the only back-to-back set comes on the last weekend of December.

Reason No. 3: They’re staring directly at the best opportunity they’ll have this season to string together three consecutive victories.

Reason No. 4: The trade market swings wide open on Dec. 15, and productive players are vastly more attractive to teams seeking someone able to help in the second half of the season and, possibly, the playoffs.

And it doesn’t hurt that from a realistic and long-range viewpoint, a solidly competitive three weeks could build good habits without sacrificing the likelihood of finishing with a record that would assure a premium lottery pick. There will be plenty of games marked with an “L.”

Let’s take a game-by-game look at the next 10:

Monday night: Grizzlies at home

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors once went 145 games without back-to-back losses. With Grizzlies' team engine Ja Morant coping with a balky back – he has missed the last four games – this is an excellent chance put some life in Chase Center with their first consecutive wins this season.

Win probability: Very high.

Wednesday night: Knicks at home

It’s the Knicks, on their first swing through Western Conference, on the second night of a back-to-back set. Enough said.

Win probability: Very high.

Friday night: Jazz away

Even with the tremendous Warriors teams of recent seasons, playing at altitude on the road was never a walk. Mike Conley’s hamstring is barking, but Emmanuel Mudiay is playing well.

Win probability: Very low.

Dec. 15: Kings at home

The first meeting this season between Kerr and former assistant Luke Walton, and also the first reunion of former Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein and his former teammates. One question: Can Cauley-Stein bring intensity? Another question: Who can guard Sacramento gunslinger Buddy Hield?

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 18: Trail Blazers away

Tough place to win with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Tougher to win without them. The Dame-CJ-Melo trio poses problems for a Warriors defense than can be exploited. This game will need the best of Draymond Green at both ends, and some loud offense from Eric Paschall.

Win probability: Low.

Dec. 20: Pelicans at home

Will Zion be back? It doesn’t look likely. Has anybody seen Derrick Favors? New Orleans is a mess right now, and a turnaround in the next couple weeks seems unlikely.

Win probability: High.

Dec. 23: Timberwolves at home

Minny is one of only four teams to beat the Warriors at least once in each of the last four seasons, and those Warriors were four levels better than this year's squad. Coach Ryan Saunders seems to have unlocked the secret to Andrew Wiggins’ potential. But this is the second of three straight games in the Pacific time zone.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 25: Rockets at home

The simple game plan is to keep James Harden off the free-throw line and force Russell Westbrook to launch jump shots. If either fails to find a rhythm – and there’s a decent chance of that – the Warriors can pull off the upset.

Win probability: Low.

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly "not pushing" to trade D-Lo right now]

Dec. 27: Suns at home

The Suns are dealing with the growing pains that come with a new coach determined to change the culture. They’re quite good some nights, quite unsightly on others. But they have two players, Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr., that are capable of causing problems. Big man Deandre Ayton will back by then and will have had a couple weeks of conditioning.

Win probability: Medium.

Dec. 28: Mavericks at home

It was widely believed the Mavericks might be good enough find a low seed to the playoffs, but Luka is trying to take them even higher. It’s Luka Time, and the Warriors – on Night No. 2 of a back-to-back – must be at their best to avoid being another canvas for this kid’s wizardry.

Win probability: Low.