‘Little Tank That Could’ Looking to Draft Basketball Jones
During their 2011-2012 season, the Golden State Warriors might not have bought into a quality defensive team effort but they did manage to execute Operation Tank to near perfection. Outside of a hiccup win against the Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves, the Dubs really poured on the losses at the end of the season. Sitting at a pedestrian 18-21 on March 14th, the Warriors dropped 22 of their final 27 games to help accomplish their ultimate goal: retain their Top-7 protected 1st Round draft pick owned by the Utah Jazz.
The Basketball Gods shined in the Warriors’ favor when they won the coin toss against the Toronto Raptors earning them the 7th worst record in the NBA outright (this improved their chances of keeping their pick to 72.4%). Then miraculously, David Stern’s historically befuddling mysterious Draft Lottery slotted the Warriors at #7, offering a communal sigh of relief throughout Warrior Nation. And just like that, your Dubs pulled off the improbable in incompetent fashion. Disaster averted! Competitive losses! Attababe!
Forget scouting; simply prognosticating a NBA Draft dominated by 18 year-old young men can be difficult. But here we are. And here’s my take.
According to my extremely complicated and highly confidential personal NBA Mock Draft, I have the first six picks unfolding as follows:
1. New Orleans Hornets Anthony Davis (18) 6’10” 220LBs PF Kentucky
Forget the limitless potential, Anthony Davis has a higher floor than most of this fellow draftee’s ceilings. Shot-blocking ability, a solid jumper and the ball-handling of a guard? Where can I get me one of these? He’s the obvious choice.
2. Charlotte Bobcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (18) 6’7” 232LBs SF Kentucky
When it’s all said and done, I think MKG could end up being the best player in this draft. He’s got the heart of a champion with a permanent chip on his shoulder.
3. Washington Wizards Thomas Robinson (21) 6’10” 240LBs PF Kansas
The Wizards need all kinds of help. Giving John Wall a monster rebounder and athletic big man like Thomas Robinson might be just what the doctor ordered.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers Harrison Barnes (20) 6’8” 210LBs SF UNC
Had Barnes come out last year, he could have been drafted #1 overall over Kyrie Irving. Pairing a Tar Heel with a Duke Blue Devil would definitely put people in the seats in Cleveland.
5. Sacramento Kings Bradley Beal (18) 6’3” 207LBs SG Florida
A prototypical shooting guard, this is too much of a value pick for the Kings not to take Bradley Beal here at #5. He has as high a ceiling as any in this draft. The Kings will have to find a way to get Beal on the court even with the emergence of Marcus Thornton, or make a trade.
6. Portland Trailblazers Andre Drummond (18) 6’11” 275LBs C UConn
Run for the hills, Andre! The Trailblazers are drafting another center in the lottery! This can’t be a good Oden omen. Nevermind the terrible luck the Blazers have had with big men, they’ll be silly not to take Drummond here. He could really be special and is still just a pup.
Now, these players are obviously high ceiling guys and potential stars. I’d draft any one of them if they fell to #7. Unfortunately for them though, from tip-ball they’ll be asked to step in, produce and perform at a much higher level than they’re used to. That comes with the territory of playing for their respective teams at the bottom of the totem pole. This is where the Golden State Warriors are a curious case.
Let’s take a step back and project the Warriors’ Starting Five and compare it to their starters on the last game of the season:
PG Steph Curry (Age: 24) PG Charles Jenkins
SG Klay Thompson (Age: 22) SG Klay Thompson
PF Dorell Wright (Age: 26) SF Chris Wright
PF David Lee (Age: 29) PF Jeremy Tyler
C Andrew Bogut (Age: 27) C Mickell Gladness
Night and day, right? Suddenly the Warriors have legit size, talent and upside. In my opinion, Bogut is capable of being a Top 5 Center in the NBA when healthy. That is a big ‘if’ though. With Bogut down in the blocks, David Lee will be much better served playing his natural position, the power forward. Steph and Klay on the perimeter just stroking jumpers? Sounds like a plan.
So with the 7th overall selection, the Warriors will look to add an impact player at the small forward position. General Manager Bob Myers has stated many times that they won’t shy away from trading their pick(s) for a veteran who can fill the void. But in terms of this year’s draft, the Warriors will likely be choosing between Ekpe Udoh’s old Baylor teammate, Perry Jones III, and Kentucky Wildcat Terrence Jones. Monday morning, the Warriors held a try-out with each and according to sources, “they were going at it.” Both have plenty of question marks but here’s the bottom line: I don’t think the Warriors are particularly “jonesing” for either.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford: “The Warriors have a history of taking long, athletic players who are more about upside than production. I don’t see that happening this year — not under the new ownership and new front office.”
As a McDonald’s All-American, Perry Jones III was one of the premiere high school recruits in 2010. At 6’11” and 220LBs, he might be the biggest risk/reward player in this entire draft. All scouts are split on him so it’s hard to determine where he’ll fall. He could turn into an Anthony Randolph-type bust or blossom into Lamar Odom. There are questions surrounding his motor and motivation as he frequently went ghost at Baylor on both ends of the floor. Can PJIII’s skills outshine his questionable fit? We’ll see.
Terrence Jones was also a 2010 McDonald’s All-American and had a short but decorated tenure at Kentucky. As a sophomore, he was the SEC’s preseason “Player of the Year” over teammates Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Some scouts had even been discussing him as a potential #1 overall pick. And like Perry Jones III, he has enough athleticism to play the small forward but probably is better suited to play the 4. Terrence’s upside is a smaller Josh Smith. He has great awareness on the court, is a proven winner at every level and is also a defensive stalwart. That last one is a big plus.
Keeping up with the Joneses will be difficult for the Warriors. Come draft day, I think the Dubs ultimately trade down and hope one of them slips further. You’ll find that many mock drafts have the Warriors taking Ohio State’s portly yet punishing Jared Sullinger. Syracuse’s combo guard Dion Waiters is also shooting up draft boards as a poor man’s Dwyane Wade. But again, I don’t believe the Warriors are particularly enamored with them either.
The thing to take away from all of this hoopla is that the Warriors are a lot closer to “win-now” territory than they are rebuilding. Fortifying the small forward position is a must. In a perfect world, I’d like to see the Warriors trade down and select Terrence Jones. I like his drive and swagger. In my opinion, his talents were stunted and overshadowed by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at Kentucky. With all of this said, if Harrison Barnes is on the board the Warriors would be silly not take him. Don’t be surprised either if the Warriors try to make a splash and trade the ranch for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, an ideal fit for them.
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