Having observed the maximum 10 workouts of draft-eligible players, the Warriors have done their research. Though president/general manager Bob Myers won’t allow himself a second of comfort, assistant GM Larry Harris pronounces the front office as ready for the 2020 NBA Draft.
“In the past, the last five or six years, we've had maybe at most, maybe a week, to get ready for the draft,” Harris told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday. “And now we've had nearly seven months. We're ready for it. I wish it was later today, really. Right now, we're just getting tired of looking at each other.”
He’s going to have to wait until Wednesday because that’s when draft and calendar meet. The Warriors own the No. 2 overall pick and reached the point where they’re willing to trade back but, if that doesn’t happen, they’re OK staying put.
Either way, bring it on.
In addition to time afforded by the extended offseason -- the Warriors haven’t played in eight months due to the Covid-19 pandemic -- the front office dynamic is different this time around. Harris and father-and-son Lacobs, CEO Joe and VP of basketball operations Kirk, are in their usual roles, processing information and offering opinions. Shaun Livingston is the third former player, along with Mike Dunleavy and Zaza Pachulia, in the room delivering assessments. Steve Kerr, missing the playoffs for the first time in his coaching career, is involved.
Aiming to reinforce the core -- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson -- the Warriors are trusting their judgment. They’ve had hits and misses over the years, but the basics remain the same.
“Let's assume they have a skill, at least one, but we’d like to have more than that,” Harris said. “Let's assume their character and (basketball) IQ are above board. So, we've checked all three of those boxes, which are the most important to us. We know he knows how to play. We know he has a work ethic. We know his character is good, and we know he brings a skill, whatever that skill may be.
“Then we go immediately to ‘How would he fit with Klay and Steph and Draymond? How is he going to score? How is he going to impact the defensive end of the floor? Does he have a mindset to be able to rotate?’ Because if you don't rotate, Draymond is going to let you know in the middle of the play how bad you screwed it up.”
The process is as much about fit as skill, as much about what a player can/can’t do at age 20 as the visualizing whether he’s determined to maximize his talent.
It can be a time-consuming endeavor, as it should be when millions of dollars are at stake. The limitations on in-person evaluations has forced teams to rely upon endless hours of video study and dozens video interviews. In addition to the No. 2 pick, the Warriors also own two late second-round selections, No. 48 and No. 51.
Another significant difference in 2020 is the inability to watch players in team environments, even if only 3-on-3. That would make it exceedingly difficult to accurately assess, in particular, a point guard. Shooters are not facing competitive defenses, and most potential NBA players can drill shots for hours under those conditions.
The Warriors, according to Harris, have identified seven or eight players they like, a couple at No. 2, several more a little deeper into the draft. There remains the possibility they will trade back. There is little chance, league sources say, of them moving back without also getting a player as part of the trade.
All options are being explored, and all of them are open.
If the Warriors are unwilling to make a move, it’s safe to assume they’re ready to roll with what they have. It’s beyond their control that they tumbled into the lottery in a year when the draft process has more restrictions than ever.
“Nothing (beats) being in person, but we've been able to really do a lot of deep dives on a lot of these guys,” Harris said. “I've told my friends and people that will listen that I feel very confident about the three picks. That if we keep them, that we’ll get the right person because we've spent enough time to say, ‘OK, if we make a mistake, we've made the mistake as a group.’”