OAKLAND -- Considering their status as reigning champs without a pick, members of the Warriors personnel department could have turned out the lights and left team headquarters to watch the NBA Draft from a nearby tavern.
They instead stayed in business mode Thursday night, observing the draft-night chaos up close, waiting for the right moment and the right player.
And for the second consecutive year, the Warriors paid a team for its 38th overall draft pick, sending a reported $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Oregon big man Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
“Everybody we talked to had a lot of good things to say about him,” president/general manager Bob Myers said. “He’s one of the few guys we looked at and really wanted to see if we could get. I actually was not optimistic we would be able to get him. But somehow it came to fruition.”
Myers added that the Warriors, along with many mock drafts, projected Bell as a first-round pick.
Bell led the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (63.6) while shooting almost exclusively in the paint. The 6-foot-9 center/forward was sixth among Pac-12 rebounders at 8.8 per game and 13th in steals at 1.3 per game.
The Long Beach Poly High product possesses a wingspan a fraction shy of 7-feet and bears, by some accounts, a resemblance to Draymond Green inasmuch as he is a defense-first player with a deep reservoir of energy.
It’s a comparison that Bell, asked about it, embraces.
“Draymond, because people always say I’m undersized,” Bell told Basketball Insiders last month. “He’s one of those players you can’t really say what position he is, but he’s a force on defense.”
Moreover, Myers cited Green as one of the players best suited to mentor Bell.
“Draymond is a good one,” the GM said. “He’s not afraid to tell players what he thinks. He’s going to be a good teacher.”
Bell in three seasons became the Ducks’ all-time leader in blocks. He blocked eight shots in a Midwest Regional win over Kansas that sent Oregon to the Final Four. He became during the NCAA Tournament the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon (in 1985) to snag at least 12 rebounds in five consecutive tournament games.
“Defending is one of my best attributes,” Bell told Basketball Insiders. “Being able to switch 1-through-5. Play small ball. Blocking shots. Timing. Decision-making on offense.”
These are the characteristics that prompted the Warriors to put a red-letter “B” next to Bell’s name on their draft board -- even though his offensive skills are unrefined.
“We love his ability to defend,” Myers said. “He could probably defend most positions, and in the NBA that’s huge. To be able to switch pick-and-rolls, rebound, block shots, finish, there are a lot of boxes he checks.
“ . . . We just like the way he plays basketball. We’ll find a place for him.”
The Warriors also are closing in on a deal for one of Bell’s Oregon teammates. Forward Chris Boucher is expected to sign a two-way contract with the team.
“That’s something we’re trying to move toward,” Myers said of Boucher, who is rehabilitating an ACL surgery.
“But we like players that win. We like players that can play. I don’t care what school they are or what their background is, or what position. Winners. That’s what we’re trying to do, is win. If we end up getting that done, that’s another player that was on a very good team.”