Steve Kerr and the Warriors find themselves in uncharted waters this offseason.
After going an NBA-worst 15-50, the Warriors will not be in the playoffs this season, a first in the Kerr era. That means Kerr has been spending his time since the season went on pause due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic studying tape of the draft's top prospects. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the 2020 draft class doesn't have a transcendent talent.
From Anthony Edwards to LaMelo Ball to Tyrese Haliburton, the class has a number of high-upside players but no consensus top pick.
As such, Kerr and the Warriors find themselves in unsettled waters with differing views on the Warriors' top draft options.
"It's the first time I've ever been really heavily involved," Kerr said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "Just because I haven't had the time, and so it's been a lot of fun to watch these college games and international games and then we've done a few Zoom interviews with players as well. So I'm enjoying the process and Bob [Myers] does an amazing job of really taking his time and gathering information and not making rushes to judgment.
"Everyone wants to do a mock draft every single day, you know? If the draft were today who would you take first? What's your top five? What's your top 10? The thing I've learned from Bob is none of that matters. What matters is all the information that you can gather leading into the draft. That's why my focus is trying to resist the urge to make blanket observations and say, 'Alright, I either like this guy or I don't.' There's so much to it and a lot of different study and a lot of different dynamics."
After a pause year to rest and rebuild their roster, the Warriors plan to vault back into contention next season as they look to maximize the remaining years of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green's prime.
Most assume the high pick -- the Warriors have a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick -- will be a part of next season's climb back to the top. But with no clear franchise-altering talent atop the class, the Warriors must weigh adding a young piece who can be a part of future success against turning an asset into a veteran who can be an immediate difference-maker for a team with title dreams.
The Warriors have a $17.2 million trade exception and also own the rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves' lightly protected 2021 first-round pick. They could package the pick or a pick swap to add a veteran who can help them win now. A few veteran wings reportedly already are eyeing joining Golden State in the offseason, hoping to be a part of the dynastic resurgence.
Edwards, Ball, Haliburton, Obi Toppin, James Wiseman and Deni Avidija all are talented and could develop into franchise building blocks. But the Warriors are in win-now mode and that doesn't often lend itself to being patient for young players to develop.
With the top of the draft unsettled, the Warriors will have a decision to make by the time the October draft rolls around. With a likely high draft pick coming in 2021, do they move off the top 2020 selection by either trading back or dealing the pick entirely for an impact veteran? Or will they see something in one of the top prospects that makes them believe they can contribute to a title run in 2021 while also developing into a franchise building block?
It's a tight rope to walk and the Warriors will take their time evaluating each and every prospect in a murky class. Edwards' scoring ability off the bench could provide a lift, but banking on a rookie to provide bench scoring could be a risk not worth taking. Wiseman wouldn't seem to fit into the Warriors' plans and Ball's game doesn't lend himself to the Warriors' system. Trading back for the likes of Toppin, Haliburton, Killian Hayes or Saddiq Bey could be an option, but focusing on the future could hamper the present.
Restarting a dynasty isn't easy. In fact, it's almost never accomplished as planned. The Warriors have a road map back to the top of the NBA hierarchy. But what they decide to do with the top draft pick could ultimately have a big say in how successful the second half of the Curry-Thompson-Green run is.
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