For most of the leadup to Thursday's 2021 NBA Draft, the big question surrounding the Warriors has been: if they don't trade their picks, who can they draft that would provide an immediate impact?
It's a fair question to ask. With Steph Curry still in MVP form, Draymond Green playing elite defense and Klay Thompson set to return from two injuries that have sidelined him for the past two seasons, the Warriors are focused on pushing to make another championship bid. And with no clear dominant team in the Western Conference, now is the time to start that charge.
So yes, it makes sense for the Warriors to draft someone who can help right away. But, what doesn't make sense is the assumption of how ready the player needs to be. The Warriors are not looking for their next superstar in this year's draft. They already have that, and two other elite players. In this draft, they just need someone to come off the bench and simply not be a liability.
"We'd like this draft pick, whether it's 7 or 14 to come in and play," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Monday during his pre-draft press conference. "But we would like them to provide depth.
"We would like, whoever we take, to be supplemental and to be playable. We would like that. We would. If there's a player that stands out, but if there's a player that we think can be better, and you say, you know what, we could go short-term and take this guy and maybe gives us eight minutes a game, but if we do this guy, yeah, he may not give us those eight minutes, but next year he could start, or could he give us 20 minutes."
Very rarely does a rookie walk onto a team with playoff and title hopes and instantly take on a big role. It happens, but not a lot. Usually, the rookies that take on big starting jobs and centerpiece roles within a franchise are those that are in rebuilding mode with the plan to make that player their star.
That is not the position the Warriors are in. We saw them try and do that with James Wiseman last season, but it didn't quite pan out. The blame isn't entirely on Wiseman or the Warriors -- Wiseman didn't have Summer League, missed training camp, and was continuously jumping in and out of the lineups due to COVID-19 protocols and injuries.
The point is, the position Wiseman initially was put in was the exception.
Next season, the Warriors will not be asking whomever they draft to be a starter. And they probably won't be a sixth or seventh man either. So, who's minutes would they take?
"It's almost like, I don't care who we draft, is that guy going to take minutes from Steph? No," Myers said. "So he's got his 35 minutes. Are you going to take minutes from Klay when he's back? No, probably not. When Klay's back playing his minutes. Draymond? Probably not. [Andrew] Wiggins, probably not going to be better than him. And you've got Juan [Toscano-Anderson] who is playing well, Jordan [Poole], James is going to play, other guys."
Since they probably won't take minutes from the Warriors' pre-existing eight or nine-man rotation, what role would whoever they draft serve?
There are certain areas the Golden States are lacking in with their second unit. They could use some more ball-handling and facilitating, or maybe extra defense or another wing since Wiggins is the only wing on the team. So, the Warriors could ask their rookie to help out in those specific areas.
With a pick as high as seven, it's often argued to take the best player available. But by 14, depending on who's on the board, you can target specific specialties. And there are a number of guys at 14 who could help address some of the issues the Warriors had off the bench.
When the Warriors enter draft night, they still should be looking for someone who isn't too big of a project and can help the team in some way by the start of next season. But it's unfair to suggest that whoever they draft will either make or break the success they have.
No one rookie will automatically launch the Warriors back to the top of the Western Conference. It will take multiple pieces and multiple steps for the Warriors to win another ring, and drafting someone would just be one of them.