POSTED: Jun 6, 2013 8:16 AM ET
The Warriors' future is very bright thanks to drafting Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Nothing can go horribly wrong this time in that in-your-face way that has become strangely commonplace. At least probably nothing. The Warriors so far do not have a draft pick for June 27, and so the Kings are safe for now from the other neighborhood contrast.
The standings are antithesis enough -- Golden State in the playoffs and positioned for a long stay, Sacramento still wearing ankle weights in the lottery. But the draft history. Now we're talking contrast.
Not just interesting contrast, either. Kings-Warriors on draft night has become a ground-shifting series of events, all the way to league-altering in the way Golden State has grown into a new presence by seizing on leftovers.
The Splash Brothers
Harrison Barnes last June. Klay Thompson the year before. Stephen Curry two years before that. Three starters on a team that just reached the second round of the playoffs.
That kind of league-altering.
This has gone from geographical curiosity to the strangest of coincidences because the franchises are separated by 80 miles, or by light years, have picked in very close proximity in each of the last five Junes, the Warriors have been second in line every time, and it hasn't mattered. Golden State has a large window for the future specifically because it climbed on the back of its neighbors.
Close on the map, close in the draft, but not really close in the draft. And all by waiting.
The Kings scored a clear victory in 2008, with Jason Thompson at No. 12 before the Warriors took Anthony Randolph 14th. Thompson has mostly started in his five seasons while Randolph has yet to find a home in stops with the Warriors, Knicks, Timberwolves and Nuggets. It has been a very good outcome for the Sacramento front office that faced a lot of second-guessing for taking a solid prospect over a player with more upside, and obviously more risk.
And then ...
In 2009, the Kings took Tyreke Evans at No. 4 and got the immediate dividend of a very impressive debut season and Rookie of the Year by a physical point guard with the potential to develop into a good defender. And the Warriors took Curry seventh and got the point guard who would turn into the best shooter in the game and an underrated passer. Curry's potential is already becoming reality, while Evans has been shifted from the point to small forward to shooting guard and has an uncertain future in Sacramento as a restricted free agent.
In 2010, the Kings took DeMarcus Cousins fifth and the Warriors went with Ekpe Udoh one spot later. Cousins has at various times showed why he was considered, at worst, the second-best prospect in the class, behind top pick John Wall, and also showed why a lot of teams stayed away. He remains an enigma with talent and attitude in constant battle against each other, but he does remain. Udoh was sent to Milwaukee in March 2012 as part of the Andrew Bogut deal. Udoh has been a key reserve for the Bucks.
In 2011, the Kings took Jimmer Fredette at 10, a pick that officially belonged to Bucks, as part of a three-team deal with Charlotte and Milwaukee. (The Kings selected Bismack Biyombo on behalf of the Bobcats). The Warriors took Thompson 11th. He became a lethal shooting partner in the backcourt with Curry and also a standout on a fast-improving defense. Fredette improved in his second season, but faces an uncertain future in a backcourt in transition and still searching for a dependable starter at the point.
In 2012, the Kings took Thomas Robinson at No. 5, said they were prepared for the time it would take him to develop, and then eight months later traded the power forward to the Rockets. The Warriors went Barnes two picks later. He was voted first-team All-Rookie by coaches.
Golden State was three spots or fewer behind the Kings in each of the last four drafts and will have the better outcome in three of those, pending a big Fredette comeback and a really, really big U-turn on Curry-Evans. The Warriors are set up to be playoff regulars largely because of it.
At least Sacramento will probably get away from the comparison this year. Golden State does not have a pick in either round, though could jump in late, while the Kings are choosing seventh and 36th.