A year to forget.
That's exactly what 2011-2012 has been for the Golden State Warriors. From the lockout which affected the entire league to the contract negotiations and ultimate trade of star-player Monta Ellis to the embarrassing events that occurred when Chris Mullin was getting his jersey retired, this year has been a disaster for the Warriors.
And then, there's the team's overall record.
It truly has been tough for the men at Oracle Arena this season. The good news is that the Warriors, when healthy, are a team that still has a good amount of talent to build around.
Stephen Curry is a strong player who, because of the unpopular trade of Ellis, will likely see more shots and more opportunities to score. David Lee is a fantastic and underrated power forward who is nearly averaging a double-double for the W's this season. Andrew Bogut has the ability to provide a strong defensive presence on the inside, while adding his solid offense.
The rest of the team is stocked with young players who have shown some promise, like Klay Thompson and Jeremy Tyler, as well as talented role players like Dorell Wright and Nate Robinson. However, these players haven't done enough on their own to help the team win. Adding a couple pieces in the draft could change the Warriors from a playoff spectator to a playoff participant.
The problem is that the Warriors won't be able to take advantage of the high draft picks that come with a bad season due to trades they have made. The Utah Jazz own the W's first-round pick which currently sits in the ninth position if the ping-pong balls bounce the way they should. The good news for the Warriors is that pick is top-seven protected, so if the Warriors somehow manage to get one of the top-seven picks, they will be able to select a player in that spot.
The other bit of good news is that the Warriors now own the Spurs' first-round pick because they were willing to take Richard Jefferson this season.
The Warriors also do not own their own second-round pick, as it was dealt to the Nuggets by way of the Knicks in the David Lee deal. Fortunately, the W's will be able to select twice in the second round, once with New Jersey's selection and once with Atlanta's selection.
So the Warriors have a bit of a scrambled mess with their draft situation, but in the end, it leaves them with three chances to add players to improve the team. The following are the areas the Warriors should look to supplement their already talented team in order to get back into contention in 2012-2013.
(This article is written with the assumption that the Warriors will lose their first rounder, and therefore select toward the end of the first round and twice in the second round.)
It's no secret that the Golden State Warriors need help on the defensive side of the ball. Currently, the Warriors are the fourth-worst team in the NBA in opponents scoring, allowing 100.4 points per game. They need help on the defensive side of the ball badly.
Not only are they allowing all of those points, but they're allowing opponents to shoot 47 percent from the floor, and a whopping 37 percent from behind the three-point line. Perimeter defense is not the team's forte.
The backcourt for the Warriors isn't exactly loaded with players who have an interest in playing solid defense. Stephen Curry is an offensive stud, but it seems like that's where his interest ends. He's quick and can occasionally jump a passing lane, but he lacks the strength and size to keep up with the bigger guards in the NBA.
Klay Thompson has the length to bother some shots, but he also struggles with his strength and quickness to really affect the game. Nate Robinson doesn't have the ability or the will to have any impact on defense, and Dorell Wright is on-and-off at best.
The pickup of Andrew Bogut should help the team's overall defense if he can stay healthy, but the team needs to improve on the perimeter to give their big men a chance to excel defensively.
The first player the Warriors should look at, assuming they will lose their early first-round pick, and instead be selecting later in the first, would be Vanderbilt's Jeffery Taylor.
Taylor is a freakishly athletic swingman who takes pride in his defensive abilities. Add that to a solid offensive game and Taylor could step in and make an impact over Wright or Thompson on day one.
Other players to consider in the first round include Washington's Tony Wroten, another talented and athletic wingman who is aggressive and physical on defense and Kentucky's Darius Miller, who has shown he can be an effective defender when he shows determination on that end of the court.
Any of these players should be able to step in and improve the horrible defense the Warriors play on a nightly basis.
The thought of having Andrew Bogut and David Lee as the starting center and power forward for the Warriors next season is an exciting prospect for a team that hasn't really had two solid big men like that in recent memory.
The Warriors need to be sure to have a contingency plan in case that starting front line is short lived.
A former No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Bogut's injury history is well documented. Expecting a guy like Bogut to participate in 82 games is a bit of a stretch. The Warriors do have other decent big men, like promising youngsters Jeremy Tyler and Chris Wright, but they certainly could use more depth, especially if they lose either Bogut or Lee to injury.
Andris Biedrins has had several years to develop into a player who really contributes, but he has seemed to actually take steps backwards in terms of his progression.
The Warriors have an opportunity to add another big man to the roster through this draft, which has no shortage of talented big men.
Fab Melo out of Syracuse could be a tremendous addition in either the late first or early second round. Melo is a player who certainly plays above the rim, unlike Lee and Bogut, and would add a real element of toughness to the frontcourt.
If the Warriors want to stick with the more skilled players like Gasol and Lee, they could go after Mason Plumlee out of Duke. Plumlee doesn't bring a lot of toughness to the table, and he certainly won't help the defensive efforts, but he is a phenomenal player offensively and could fill in nicely for either of the starters.
The second round could have very talented big men like Festus Ezeli and Herb Pope waiting for the Warriors. Regardless of when they decide to add that big man, it is something that needs to be a priority this year.
With Klay Thompson and Brandon Rush left as the only true shooting guards on the roster after the team traded Monta Ellis, it's time for the Warriors to consider finding an upgrade at the position.
With Stephen Curry playing the role of point guard and playmaker, the Warriors need to find a shooting guard who can knock down open shots when Curry drives and kicks and who can also pick up the slack for Curry on an off night.
Curry, Bogut and Lee should all be able to focus a lot of the opposing defense's attention on the paint when they're on the court at the same time. A knock-down shooter on the outside waiting for open looks will really be able to space the floor and create some matchup problems for those opponents.
Thompson is a pretty good prospect at this point, but his shooting abilities weren't as good as advertised before the year, and he struggled creating for himself on offense. Brandon Rush is a player who has always been solid but sort of overlooked in his NBA career. If the Warriors feel that Thompson is better than Rush at this point, then they could certainly do better in this draft.
Kentucky's Doron Lamb may be around toward the end of the first round. Lamb is a terrific outside shooter who can seriously make opponents pay if they focus too much on the other Warriors. Lamb will need to get stronger if he's going to defend NBA shooting guards, but his presence on the court would make the Warriors just that much more dangerous on offense.
John Jenkins is another great option for the Warriors at shooting guard. The Vanderbilt product is as good of a shooter as there is in this draft, and he actually puts forth solid effort on defense. Jenkins isn't the most athletic or physically gifted player, but he plays with control and intelligence that would make him a serious perimeter threat in Golden State.
Alex Young, Kim English and William Buford may all be around in the second round if the Warriors decide to go a different way in the first. Any of these players could at the very lease provide depth for the Warriors or potentially step in and make big contributions right off the bat.
The Warriors are the worst rebounding team in the NBA this season. With a fairly potent offense, it would be huge if the Warriors could improve their rebounding and get themselves more possessions.
Currently, the best rebounder on the team is David Lee, who is averaging just under 10 rebounds per game this year. The next best rebounder is Dominic McGuire at 3.1 rebounds per game. That kind of production (or lack thereof) on the boards is a major reason for concern for the Warriors franchise.
Once again, Andrew Bogut, for as long as he stays healthy, will certainly help the W's in this category. Bogut averages 9.3 rebounds per game for his career. Put him next to Lee and you have a very nice 1-2 punch on the boards.
Unfortunately, nobody else on the team really shows any interest in crashing the boards and pulling in rebounds. The team traded two of their better rebounders in Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh. They need to find a way to replace those players and get themselves more looks if they're going to have any chance to compete in the Western Conference in the near future.
The obvious choices here, at the end of the first or early second rounds, would be Fab Melo and Festus Ezeli. The Warriors should also keep their eyes on Drew Gordon from New Mexico, Draymond Green from Michigan State and Quincy Acy from Baylor. Each of these players have shown toughness and rebounding abilities throughout their college careers. Add that to the Warriors and it would fill a big hole on the team.
The Warriors are a team that really lacks quality depth that can come off the bench and fill in for starters without falling behind to opponents. Players like Nate Robinson, Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson are all decent players, but they don't contribute to wins the way you'd like your main bench players to.
Golden State should use this draft to build depth. Even if they can't find three starters, this draft would be a success if they found players who could contribute off the bench. When looking at the depth chart, there really isn't a position that couldn't use some depth or an upgrade.
In all honesty, several of the current players probably won't be around when the team rights the ship and starts contending again. The key is going to be for the Warriors to be able to find young players who they feel give them a chance to win in whatever role they play. That way, they can cleanse the system, so to speak, and move on with a strengthened core group.
No draft is completely full of can't miss players, but this draft, from top to bottom, is stacked with players who were main contributors to their college teams. Guys like Jeff Withey from Kansas could be had in the second round for defense and rebounding. Jae Crowder from Marquette or Robbie Hummel (if he could just stay healthy) could provide a small forward spark and will probably be around for any of the W's picks.
If the Warriors stay patient and decide to improve their depth, they could really make a big splash in this draft and set themselves up for another extended playoff run.