The Warriors will need to scout the top of June's NBA draft much harder than they have in recent seasons.
Golden State entered Saturday with a 2-7 record, sitting second-to-last in the Western Conference and matching the winning percentage of the lottery-bound New York Knicks. If that pace continues, they'd likely be in a position to select one of a couple prospects currently playing against a longtime Warrior.
Former Warriors center Andrew Bogut returned to Australia after a playoff run with Golden State last season, and his league -- the NBL -- has brought in two highly-touted American prospects ahead of their draft year: R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball. Hampton, who plays for the Illawarra Hawks, and Ball, who plays for the New Zealand Breakers and is the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo, are considered consensus top-10 players in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Bogut played against Hampton during the preseason and had high praise for the 18-year-old in a conversation with The Athletic's Ethan Strauss published Thursday.
"I think he’s done a pretty good job," Bogut told Strauss. "I like his upside. As far as his length and athleticism, playing the point, I think he’s in that mold of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. His 3-ball’s not there yet, but he does a great job getting in the paint, he’s a willing passer and he’s very good defensively."
Bogut's Sydney Kings already have played the Breakers twice, but Ball didn't suit up in either contest. The 34-year-old has observed Ball from afar, noting that the 18-year-old's poor 3-point shooting is the only real knock on his game thus far.
"Obviously a player who knows how to read the game well," Bogut told Strauss. "You can tell when he gets in the lane and a guy helps, he can tell exactly where the guy is helping from and where the ball should go. Unbelievable passer and playmaker. I think sometimes very flashy, both positively and negatively sometimes. That flair in playmaking, that can help and hinder at times. That comes with the territory of being a young fellow."
Though Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are under contract through 2022 and 2024, respectively, their injury absences have shown that the Warriors need to start grooming the next generation of backcourt talent behind them.
D'Angelo Russell, who scored 52 points in the Warriors' loss Friday night, could be that player, but he has been the subject of trade speculation since Golden State acquired him in a sign-and-trade last summer. Ball or Hampton, then, could be options for the Warriors if they pick high enough in the lottery.
If they do, chances are general manager Bob Myers is going to call Bogut for some intel.