Heading into the 2020 NBA Draft, no prospect was seen as a surefire star. Few people saw LaMelo Ball being an instant sensation, Anthony Edwards had his warts and James Wiseman was oh so green.
The Warriors went with the upside play, drafting the then-19-year-old Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick. As is often the case with young centers, Wiseman had a few impressive moments but showed his youth and relative inexperience throughout a 39-game rookie season that ended with a meniscus injury.
As talented as Wiseman is and as high as his ceiling might be, the Warriors know their window to win with Steph Curry in his prime is now. They also are acutely aware of how long it can take to develop young prospects, and that they very well could have two lottery picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
So after Wiseman's rocky rookie season and with Curry's prime clock ticking, will the Warriors be OK with potentially adding two more teenagers to a roster that clearly lacked experience when getting bounced from the NBA play-in tournament?
"It depends on who they are," president of basketball operations Bob Myers said Monday at his end-of-season press conference. "It depends on what else we do. It depends on what is available. It depends on what optionality exists. The truth is you can look at a lot of different things and some come to fruition and some don't.
"I do know we need veterans. And the one area I can say without equivocating is that we have to add some veterans in free agency. We just have to. We're well aware of it and we will try to do it. We actually tried to do it last year with a few guys, so it wasn't as if that mindset didn't exist. We were in second place with quite a few guys who were veteran, could have helped but they chose to go to a team after Klay's injury that they thought they could win with."
After missing the postseason, the Warriors are slotted into the No. 14 spot in the NBA draft lottery and have a 2.4 percent chance of that pick jumping into the top four. But they also own the rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected first-round pick. The Wolves finished in the No. 6 spot and there is a 72-percent chance their pick will convey to the Warriors.
It is not usual for a team with legitimate title aspirations to be adding multiple lottery picks in consecutive years, and the Warriors are aware of the hurdles that come along with developing high-talent, young prospects.
"I think it's always challenging," Myers said. "I wasn't here when Steph was a rookie but I was here with Draymond and Klay, obviously Jordan Poole a little bit, Harrison Barnes, some of the guys I'm thinking of that we brought in that were higher picks, although Draymond was a second-rounder. It happens when it happens and it's hard to predict. I was wrong because I didn't know Jordan would help us as much as he did this year. I don't know what is going to happen in the course of these guys -- how fast? How slow?
"There's an unknown to what we do. But you have to predict something, right? You have to make some educated guesses, and so it's really about being helpful in some way. Helping the team win. I think that would be the goal with any rookie we add, can this guy lead to winning in the minutes he is on the floor? And that's what we kind of -- Steve uses the term thread the needle -- but at the same time, to say it's easy on him or the player or the veterans or the young player is not fair. It is a little unusual for a team that is as mature as ours to have high picks. That is the part that's unusual. So we look at that all the time. We'd like to think they can help us and that's how we are going to approach it.
"But that's how we view it."
As the Warriors plot their course back to the top of the NBA, they will have to weigh the likelihood that Wiseman and potentially two other young prospects can provide substantial help to a team with an aging championship core and an all-time great playing at the peak of his powers.
If the honest answer is yes, then the Warriors will have to find a successful way to blend young and old, something they struggled to do with Wiseman this past season.
But if the answer is no or is uncertain, then the Warriors will have some tough decisions to make during a critical offseason.