Don’t let the collective sigh of relief from the Warriors brass fool you—the work has only just begun.
While General Manager Bob Myers and co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber were happy to leave the NBA Draft Lottery
in New York Wednesday with the No. 7 overall pick in tow (the pick would have been conveyed to Utah via New Jersey to complete a 2008 trade had the Warriors fallen from their pre-slotted seventh position in the Lottery), they knew that they would be busy on June 28 regardless of how the ping pong balls fell. Watch the video below to find out what direction draft expert Chad Ford thinks the Warriors might go in:
Golden State swung a couple of deals at this year’s trade deadline, acquiring a first round pick from San Antonio
as part of a deal that netted Richard Jefferson and a second rounder from Atlanta in exchange for cash
, and now owns the No. 30 and No. 52 picks in the 2012 NBA draft to go with the previously acquired No. 35 selection (from Brooklyn).
Now, they’ll enter the draft with four picks
, a situation the franchise hasn’t been in since 1995.
“We now have 7, 30, 35 and 52—that’s a lot of good picks,” Lacob told Warriors.com following the Lottery. “We have a lot of opportunities. It gives us flexibility. We can package those picks, move up or trade, or use the picks. We’re going to do a lot of hard evaluation, obviously, over the next month here and figure out what the best thing to do is.”
With plenty of options at their disposal, it’s important for the Warriors to properly assess the talent level likely to be available at each of their four picks, a process that is already underway in the form of pre-draft workouts at the team’s practice facility
No two drafts are the same, of course, but those who don’t know draft history are destined to repeat it—for better or worse. In the Warriors’ case, No. 7 suits them just fine.
Just three drafts ago, Golden State used the seventh overall pick to select Davidson’s Stephen Curry, who’s already established himself as one of the game’s best shooters. Despite an injury-riddled 2011-12 season, Curry figures prominently in the Warriors’ future.
Chris Mullin had a Hall of Fame career after being the seventh selection of the 1985 NBA Draft. (Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty)
On top of that, of the franchise’s six retired jersey numbers, two of those were worn by players picked seventh overall: Chris Mullin in 1985 (the first year of the Lottery) and Tom Meschery in 1961.
In general, the No. 7 pick has been a good landing spot for talent over the last decade. Each of the last 10 players selected seventh overall remain in the league and, for the most part, continue to be significant contributors for their respective teams.
Last year’s seventh pick, Bismack Biyombo, demonstrated an ability to rebound and block shots in his rookie season with Charlotte, though his inaugural campaign fell short of the three preceding seventh picks: All-Rookie selections Greg Monroe (2010 Draft), Curry (2009) and Eric Gordon (2008).
The seventh players off the board from 2002-07 have gone on to have successful careers to date, even if it sometimes took moving to a second or third team to reach their potential. Corey Brewer (2007), Randy Foye (2006), Luol Deng (2004) and Kirk Hinrich (2003) all played important roles on 2012 playoff teams (Denver, L.A. Clippers, Chicago and Atlanta, respectively).
Likewise, Nene (2002) was a staple on a number of playoff squads in Denver before being shipped to Washington at this year’s deadline. Charlie Villanueva (2005) has shown flashes of his talent, but has not had the opportunity to showcase them in the postseason in stints with Detroit, Milwaukee and Toronto.
Other notables selected at No. 7 include: Chicago’s Richard Hamilton (1999), Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (1987), former Warrior Bernard King (1977), Miami Heat President Pat Riley (1967) and Boston Celtics great John Havlicek (1962).
While the seventh pick will rightfully garner the most attention this month, the value of picks 30, 35 and 52 is not to be ignored. Along with Cleveland and Portland, the Warriors are one of only three teams with four picks in the upcoming draft—but that doesn’t guarantee that the team will make four selections in June.
“We drafted three (players) last year, so that would be seven rookies in two years—probably too many, to be honest,” Myers told Comcast SportsNet following the Lottery. “That gives us a great opportunity to explore trades, to aggregate our picks ... I’d rather have four walking into the draft party than none.”
Those three rookies from the 2011 NBA Draft—Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins, and Jeremy Tyler—all earned significant minutes toward the end of the 2011-12 season, and the selections of Jenkins (44th overall) and Tyler (39th by Charlotte) demonstrate how teams can use later picks to round out the roster with young talent.
Another popular function of second round selections is to “draft and stash” foreign prospects who may not immediately intend to play in the NBA, a particularly appealing option for a team with plenty of youth looking to receive maximum value later in the second round.
Recent notable examples of such selections include Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic (2008, 31st pick), Memphis’ Marc Gasol (2007, 48th), San Antonio’s Tiago Splitter (2007, 28th), Phoenix’s Marcin Gortat (2005, 57th) and Houston’s Luis Scola (2002, 55th).
That’s not to say there won’t be quality players available right away for the Warriors, should they so choose.
Of the players selected from the college ranks with picks No. 30, 35 and 52 in the last three drafts, all saw action in the NBA last season. According to basketball-reference.com, 72.4 percent of players selected at No. 30 have ended up in the NBA or ABA; 62.1 percent at No. 35; and 47.4 percent at No. 52.
Gilbert Arenas turned out to be one of the top steals in recent draft history after the Warriors selected him at No. 30 in 2001. (Photo: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
The Warriors have previously had (or made) history with the 30th pick, which has been the last pick of the first round since the Charlotte Bobcats joined the league in 2004. In 2001, Golden State made Gilbert Arenas the 30th player off the board (Minnesota’s first round pick was forfeited due to prior salary cap violations). Arenas exceed expectations, averaging over 18 points and six assists per game in his second season with Golden State, prompting a contract offer from the Washington Wizards that the capped-out Warriors couldn’t match.
As a result, the NBA created the “Gilbert Arenas Rule,” which allows teams to sign restricted free agents with two or less years of experience via the Early Bird or Mid-Level exception by prohibiting others from offering said restricted free agent anything more than the average salary.
On the current roster, David Lee was selected by the New York Knicks as the 30th pick of the 2005 NBA Draft—a year that saw new Warriors center Andrew Bogut taken first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.
At No. 35, the Warriors got it right with the selection of Derek Smith in 1982—though it was the Clippers who were the beneficiaries of his 22.1 points per game in 1984-85 when Golden State waived him following his rookie season. Recent 35th overall picks include Orlando’s Glen Davis and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, a restricted free agent last summer whom the Warriors signed to an offer sheet (which was promptly matched by Los Angeles). And let’s not forget former Detroit Bad Boy Rick Mahorn (1980) and current Utah Jazz Head Coach Tyrone Corbin (1985), also chosen 35th overall.
Finally, with the 52nd pick, the Warriors can search for a solid role players like Rasual Butler (2002), Jarron Collins (2001), Fred Hoiberg (1995), Donald Royal (1987) or Steve Kuberski (1969), all of whom logged over 500 career games in the NBA (Royal played in 36 games with the 1996-97 Warriors).
Golden State officials may not yet know which direction they’ll go in with their four selections in this year’s draft, but they do have a rough plan in place for 2013. As Myers told Comcast following the Lottery:
“As much as I like New York City, I don’t want to come back (to the Lottery) and sit up on that dais again. That would mean we’re in the playoffs.”
The work toward accomplishing that goal has only just begun.