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.