'Acting As If': Warriors 2017 Draft Preview

In case you haven’t noticed, the NBA never sleeps.

There isn’t much ‘off’ to be had during the so-called offseason. Summer League commences at the beginning of next month, as does Free Agency. And before we get to all that, there’s the annual NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

For the Warriors, who literally just finished their crowning procession down the streets of downtown Oakland as the 2017 NBA Champions, the quick turnaround is an abrupt one. Some of the players are already back in the gym, and General Manager Bob Myers and his crew are mere hours away from one of their most crucial days on the NBA calendar.

“To be honest, I wish there was a little bit more of a pause,” Myers said earlier this week, “but that’s the price of winning, which you deal with.”

Now, as things currently stand, the Warriors are without a single pick in tomorrow’s Draft. Their would-be first and second round picks are owed to the Utah Jazz as part of the three-team trade that permitted them to acquire Andre Iguodala back in July of 2013 (Note: Utah has subsequently traded the second round pick to Atlanta as part of a separate transaction). However, the fact that the Dubs are currently without a draft pick does not necessarily mean they will go the entire Draft tomorrow without making a selection. Just last offseason, for instance, the Warriors purchased a second round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks, which they then used to take Patrick McCaw with the 38th overall selection. You might recall, McCaw played a rather vital role for Golden State throughout the season on their way to the Championship, and capped off a stellar rookie campaign with 12 crucial minutes in their Game 5 clinching victory.

To be clear, to get that kind of immediate production out of a 21-year old rookie second round pick is not commonplace in NBA history. Then again, this is your annual reminder Golden State selected Draymond Green with the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and look how that turned out.

All of this is to say, the Warriors have done a great job producing homegrown talent over the last several years, and the Draft is a chance for every NBA team to restock the roster with youth and potential. In addition to McCaw and Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones are all players on the current roster who have spent their entire careers with the Warriors after being drafted by Golden State.

So, will the Warriors add to that stable of homegrown talent tomorrow? It remains to be seen, but the Dubs’ brass is preparing to do so if an opportunity arises.

“We don’t have a draft pick,” said Myers, “but we’re acting as if we do.”

The post-lottery portion of the draft order is based on reverse order of regular season finish, meaning that even if the Warriors did have their original selections, they would have been the very final picks of each of the two rounds. That’s the same position Golden State has been in each of the last two seasons after finishing with the best regular season record in the league, and Myers recently gave some insight as to how the Warriors have approached selecting players at that point in the draft:

“Our thought on that is whoever the best player available is. When we drafted McCaw, we actually didn’t think he would be as ready as he was…it was more of who’s the best player, at this number, period. Whether they’re ready now or in a year. So that’s how we’ll approach this year.”

The fact of the matter is, given the collection of talent already on Golden State’s roster, they’re in a position where they can afford to draft the best player available (if they indeed do acquire a pick), rather than make a selection based on positional need. It makes it far more difficult to guess who the Warriors might have their eyes on, but like Myers said, that’s one of the byproducts of success.

It’s certainly possible that the Warriors do not make a draft selection tomorrow night. But if they do, you can be sure they believe whoever they select is worth the gamble.

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