Warriors

Why Warriors' strategy in 2019 NBA Draft could differ from past years

Why Warriors' strategy in 2019 NBA Draft could differ from past years

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The offseason of uncertainty has begun.

It has been quite awhile since the Warriors have had to go into an NBA draft looking to add pieces that could potentially play substantial roles on the team next season. But with the Warriors well over the salary cap and restricted from bringing in much talent from the outside, this Thursday's draft is more important than ever.

The Warriors probably will see a lot of roster turnover this offseason. Even if unrestricted free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were to re-sign -- Klay is fully expected to return, while Durant is much more uncertain -- they both would not be available to play a majority, if not all, of next season after suffering major injuries. The loss of those two will leave a crater-sized hole in the Warriors' scoring ability, as the two combined to represent nearly 50 points per game in the regular season.

Their absence will also significantly hinder the team's defense, as they both played key roles in the team's ability to switch and guard any opponent. The Warriors will now have to fill the void of two starting positions, but that is not where the draft will bolster their team.

The Warriors instead will draft players to help fill the gaps in a potentially barren bench. Assuming that Andre Iguodala remains on the team next season, there is a high likelihood that he returns to the starting lineup. If Shaun Livingston were to retire or be cut from the team, Jacob Evans would be the only bench player firmly under contract next season (assuming Damian Jones returns to the starting lineup).

The team has a very inexpensive option for Alfonzo McKinnie, which would make him seem like the perfect candidate to remain on the squad. After that, the list of Warriors that are unrestricted or restricted free agents includes DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, Jonas Jerebko, Quinn Cook, and Andrew Bogut, who will return to Australia to play for the Sydney Kings of the NBL.

Other than Looney, whom the team values highly, it is unknown who the Warriors will attempt to bring back. A couple more names to pay close attention to are two-way players Damion Lee and Marcus Derrickson. Both players can provide highly-coveted long distance shooting, and both have developed nicely over the last year. 

So, keeping the major turnover and absences in mind, what will the Warriors look to add in the draft? The easy answer would be NBA-ready talent, most likely in the form of a wing, that can shoot from deep and play defense.

It was quite evident throughout the playoffs that the Warriors were in desperate need of spacing to allow Steph Curry and Draymond Green to feast on the opposition. The problem for the team, however, is that NBA-ready "3-and-D" wings are in high demand in today's game, and the Warriors will not make selections until the No. 28 and No. 56 picks in the draft.

More likely than not, the Warriors will have to select players that have low ceilings, but are ready to step into a game immediately and contribute in specific areas of need. If they are able to select an impressive shooter, it will probably be someone that is limited in playmaking or individual shot creation, meaning they are in the mold of pure spot-up shooters that can play adequate defense.

Look for these to be mostly four-year college players that are on the older-side of the rookie class, making them less desirable for teams building from the bottom. 

Also, don't be surprised if the Warriors buy more picks in the second round like they did to select Pat McCaw and Jordan Bell. The team needs to acquire as much talent on the cheap as possible, and selecting second-round prospects is the perfect solution, even if the players are a bit of a crapshoot.

If the Warriors mostly focus their draft sights on guards and wings that can shoot, one area that the team can effectively ignore is the center position (unless the talent is too hard to pass up). Even with the uncertainty regarding the futures of Looney and Bell, it has become apparent over the last few seasons that defense and rebounding-first front court players are easier to acquire on the free-agent veteran minimum.

Free-agent skilled shooters usually have more demand in the NBA, making them hard to sign on the cheap.

[RELATED: NBA mock draft 3.0]

When the Warriors had a fully-healthy star-studded team, the draft was largely important in that the team had a chance to pick players that they could develop and try to turn into future contributors on inexpensive deals. If the Warriors intend on competing next season, they no longer have the luxury to wait and develop players.

They will need NBA-ready players who aren't afraid of the spotlight so early in their careers. That means Bob Myers and the front office will have a tough task ahead of them Thursday.

Steve Kerr knows hard work just starting in fighting racial injustice

Steve Kerr knows hard work just starting in fighting racial injustice

The eyes of the world are on police brutality and institutional racism in the United States.

Protests have erupted around the world in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody last Monday, with demonstrators taking to the streets across the country and all over the globe ever since.

Outspoken Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday that the hard work is just beginning.

"I think that that's our job, really, is to make sure that it's not just a press conference and a Zoom call, and then back to normal business," Kerr said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America: A Candid Conversation." "I think what David (West) was talking about earlier (on the panel) was working with the grassroots organizations. I think being committed -- if you're a corporation, taking on that commitment of building a relationship with these grassroots organizations.

"Not just, 'Hey, here's a check for [$5,000], we're proud of you.' Build a relationship with the grassroots organizations, build a relationship with city government and continue this work. That's the whole key, and that's what I'm going to try to do. That's what the (NBA) coaches association is doing. We're trying to build lasting relationships so that the work can continue, even beyond the emotion of the aftermath of something like this."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died last Monday after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who has since been fired, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin was arrested a week ago, and he has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three officers at the scene were arrested this week and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man, also dying. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home, while two white men allegedly followed and murdered Arbery as he jogged in his Georgia neighborhood.

The NBA has the highest percentage of African American players of any of the four "major" professional sports in the United States, and it's also the closest to returning since the leagues paused their seasons in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA Players Association approved the league's plan to return to the court Friday, agreeing to resume the season beginning in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex with a 22-team format.

Former Warriors big man David West doesn't think the NBA season resuming to the court will stop players from speaking out.

"I think [commissioner Adam Silver] gives guys the space and the room to be people," West said Friday. "I would expect him to be, or the NBA to be in that same vein. I don't think they're gonna try to restrict guys. I think they'll talk it through with guys -- a lot of guys are flustered. They don't know what to say. They know what they feel, they know what they're seeing is not right, but they don't know what to say. The NBA does a good job of helping guys with their message, so I don't think that there's gonna be some restriction.

"I think that players, as they are compelled, will continue to lend their voice because ... [the] grassroots organizations have to do the work, the elected officials have to do the work. We have to do our part in terms of being citizens, but I just think that the players are too in-tune to just turn it off and go back to playing basketball. I think guys want to be a part of the narrative in terms of changing this society and pointing it in a different direction."

[RELATED: Kerr criticizes Trump for 'drawing battle lines' for election]

Protests will continue before the NBA season tips off again, and Kerr is encouraged by those who are leading the way on the ground. When Kerr looks at demonstrations, he sees a young, diverse coalition making their voices heard.

That gives him hope for the days ahead.

"I have great faith in the younger generation that's coming up behind us," Kerr said. "David mentioned this: They're more connected than any generation before them (because of social media). They're also more diverse. Just naturally, the demographics in this country are changing dramatically. What I've seen in my kids' lives, hearing their stories, watching the protests and seeing the diversity that's involved in these protests, I think the young generation is just ... looking at the older generation and they know that we're full of you know what.

"They just do. I mean, how could you not, right? And I think they want a different future, and I think they're gonna get it. I believe in the way they've educated themselves, how tolerant they are, how different they've been raised compared to us 30, 40 years ago. So, I have great faith in the young generation and in the coming decades, I think they're gonna get a lot more things done than we've ever been able to do."

Steve Kerr criticizes Trump 'drawing battle lines' for 2020 election

Steve Kerr criticizes Trump 'drawing battle lines' for 2020 election

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has not been shy about criticizing President Donald Trump.

Since Trump assumed office in 2017, the two have been at odds. Kerr has criticized countless Trump policies, and the President called Kerr "a little boy" after the NBA's suddenly contentious relationship with China following  Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting in support of protestors in Hong Kong. 

Trump recently caught the ire of Kerr is once again in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody. During a Tuesday protest near the White House, U.S. Park Police, the Secret Service, the National Guard and other federal law enforcement agencies cleared demonstrators from the area using tear gas as Trump walked to take a picture in front of the damaged St. John's Episcopal Church. Kerr called it a ploy for Trump's reelection campaign.

"Trump is drawing the battle lines for the election," Kerr said during NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America: A Candid Conversation" on Friday. "He's now just paving the way for, 'I'm the law and order president, and you've got to vote for me unless you want the chaos to ensue.' Which is ironic because chaos has ensued under his own administration. But clearly, this is the beginning of what's going to be a chaotic campaign. Trump, as he's been doing for not only his presidency, but for much of his adult life, he's just trying to divide people and stir up the pot. And as I said, he's drawing the lines and trying to bring his supporters to the side."

Floyd -- a 46-year-old African American man -- died after fired police officer Derek Chauvin -- a white man -- pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while he pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Floyd was detained after a store owner alleged he used a suspicious $20 bill, and police initially alleged he resisted arrest. Nearby surveillance footage disputed those claims.

Bystanders filmed Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck as three others looked on, and the video sparked protests around the globe. Some demonstrations in the United States have drawn the presence of the National Guard, escalating tensions between protestors and law enforcement.

Trump has criticized the demonstrations, calling protesters "thugs" in a tweet on May 28. The president tweeted "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" a day later, and Trump faced additional criticism from Kerr.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted "[we] will always stand for the right of Americans to peacefully protest and let their voices be heard."

Kerr immediately criticized Pence for hypocrisy on Twitter, as Pence staged a highly publicized walkout of a 2017 game between the 49ers and Indianapolis Colts due to San Francisco players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and institutional racism. At the time, Pence tweeted he wouldn't "dignify any event" disrespecting the flag and the national anthem.

"When you're incapable of being authentic, you're just throwing stuff at the wall and you don't even really care," Kerr said. "But this is the problem, that truth and facts have sort of gone out the window. So anybody who is paying attention knows full well that not only did the administration not accept peaceful protests, but they turned it around and turned it into an anti-American act.

"So, we all saw that and then to then fast forward four years and say, 'No, no, we actually definitely feel strongly that Americans should be allowed to peacefully protest.' It's just like an utter lack of concern or conviction for anything in terms of your truth. There is no truth. So, no character, no conviction and that's a big part of the issue right now, is that the people leading our country are just speaking from both sides of their mouth and just saying whatever they want to say."

For much of his Warriors tenure, Kerr has been outspoken on social issues and disagreed with Trump's policies. In 2017, he criticized Trump's executive order restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim nations. Trump mocked Kerr last year after Morey send out a tweet in solidarity with Hong Kong.

“I watched this guy, Steve Kerr, and he was like a little boy, he was so scared to be even answering the question,” Trump said in October. “He couldn’t answer the question. He was shaking. ‘Oh, oh, oh, I don’t know. I don’t know.’ He didn’t know how to answer the question, and he’ll talk about the United States very badly."

[RELATED: Ex-Warrior West explains his biggest fear as black father]

Kerr tried to curtail his comments towards the president during last season, privately declining to comment on Trump's impeachment hearings in January. Nonetheless, he continued criticizing Trump on Twitter after the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus in March.

Kerr said Friday he hopes for a change in leadership in the Oval Office.

"This is how it works in politics, it's just unfortunate that this is how people in power can think because we would like to," Kerr said. "Or at least hope to believe that we would have people who are in it for the right reasons, trying to actually lead us in a positive direction, but that hasn't been the case."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]