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Warriors find magic numbers in lottery with promise of karma

NBC Sports

For the Warriors fan who believes in fate and karma and mysticism, or that nothing is coincidental, the results of Tuesday night’s 2021 NBA Draft Lottery is manna from the basketball gods.

Your favorite team came away with the seventh and 14th overall picks in the July draft. The history of those slots, with this franchise, contains more than a little bit of magic.

There have been 37 players taken seventh overall in the lottery era, and only one is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame: Chris Mullin, drafted by the Warriors in the inaugural lottery back in 1985.

Of the other 36 picks, only one is a lock to join Mullin in the Hall: Stephen Curry, drafted by the Warriors in 2009.

It's up to general manager Bob Myers and CEO Joe Lacob to take advantage of their good fortune.

Understand, now, that the Warriors do not have a monopoly on finding impact players at No. 7. Jamal Murray went seventh in 2016. Richard “Rip” Hamilton went seventh in 1999. Kevin Johnson went seventh in 1987. Julius Randle, seventh overall in 2014, achieved All-Star status last season.

The list of sevens also includes such quality players as Damon Stoudemire (1995), Jason “White Chocolate” Williams (1998), Kirk Hinrich (2004), Luol Deng (2005), Eric Gordon (2008) and, of course, Harrison Barnes, selected by the Warriors in 2012.

So, while plenty of quality has gone elsewhere, Mullin and Curry – two Warriors – are undisputed kings of this hill. To be sure, Curry can lay claim to being the best No. 7 pick in NBA history.

 

But there’s another element that surely appeals to stargazers. Mullin was drafted 24 years before Curry. Put another way, precisely one dozen years. The 2021 pick comes 12 years – precisely one dozen – after the Warriors chose Curry.

That No. 7 overall pick came courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose top-three-protected pick, obtained in the February 2020 D’Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins trade, conveyed to the Warriors.

RELATED: Myers sets realistic expectations for Warriors' draft picks

The No. 14 pick belonged to the Warriors outright, and that number also has special meaning with this franchise.

That’s the Tim Hardaway slot.

Coming to the Warriors in 1989, Hardaway is, by acclaim, the best pre-Curry point guard in franchise history. His five total All-Star Game appearances are two fewer than Curry, but one more than Guy Rodgers and three more than Baron Davis.

The most exciting Warriors teams of the first 30 post-merger years were the two seasons in which Hardaway, along with Mitch Richmond and Mullin, formed the Run-TMC trio. They were only 81-83 during their run brief run, but their high point came in 1991, when as a No. 7 seed, the Warriors upset the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Hardaway had a game-high 32 points and nine assists in the closeout game.

We can all agree that Curry, with his absurd 3-point shooting, is responsible for changing the way the game is played at all levels. That makes him the most influential player in the 21st century.

Who was more influential than Hardaway in the 1990s? No one. Michael Jordan was the greatest player, but his legend was built on being the best winner of his generation and one of the best ever. Nothing he did was copied on a grand scale.

Hardaway, however, introduced the crossover dribble that, 30 years later, is a basketball staple. Dubbed the “UTEP Two-Step” as he refined it in college, it was his signature move. It was popularized by Allen Iverson, with many others following. It now belongs in the repertoire of every good ballhandler.

As draft slots go, 14 is nearly as good as seven.

So, if you’re looking for signs that the Warriors borrowed some luck in the lottery despite not moving up to the fourth pick, all you have to do is tilt your head toward the stars and believe.

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