The sun has not been shining much for the Golden State Warriors over the past few seasons. As many Warriors fans have expressed, they are not exactly happy with the direction the team has been moving in as of late. The most notable expression of their discontent came earlier this season when fans started booing owner Joe Lacob during Chris Mullin's jersey retirement.
With all that being said, Golden State could sure use a good draft night in a class littered with talented prospects. The Warriors barely held on to their lottery pick at number seven and also have the last pick of the first round to go with their two second-round picks. That gives the Warriors some solid shots at picking talent to lift their team up from the basement of the Western Conference. However, there's also a chance that the Warriors could whiff completely in the draft and end up with the wrong fits for their team. Let's break down the best and worst case scenarios for Golden State heading into the NBA draft later this month.
Best Case Scenario:
The Warriors have quite a few needs to fill in the offseason, but perhaps the biggest one is finding their small forward for the future. Luckily, there are plenty of players to fill that need for the Warriors, and the player within their reach at number seven in the draft would be Harrison Barnes from North Carolina.
Barnes is a no-doubt lottery pick, but some could argue he belongs in the top five the draft. This is where the best case scenario would play out for Golden State. With so much upside and several SF-hungry teams ahead of the Warriors—like the Kings and the Wizards—there's at least a decent chance Barnes is off the board before the Dubs get on the clock.
Not in this scenario, though. In this scenario, the Wizards take the higher-ranked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the third pick and the Kings decide to go with the raw prospect Andre Drummond. Portland, who is one pick ahead of the Warriors, shows no interest in the small forward position and opts for the best remaining big man on the board. This is where the Warriors find their man in Barnes and get a solid piece for the future.
What makes Barnes such a great fit is that he could ease into the offense as a member of the Dubs, and the pressure to carry the team on offense would not be bearing down on him. He has a versatile offensive skill set to work with and he moves well without the ball. The biggest asset Barnes brings is his defense and work ethic, which would both be key in adjusting Golden State's reputation as a high-scoring, low-defense team.
The Warriors and their fans are rejoicing in their great new talent and now look at the bottom of the first round to continue on their great start. That's where they could find some much needed depth at the power forward position and pick Arnett Moultrie, who may be sliding down draft boards. Moultrie has the potential to be a big sleeper in the draft and gives the Warriors some good, youthful depth in a frontcourt with a history of injury problems.
Moving forward, the Warriors can find a good backup shooting guard to play behind budding scorer Klay Thompson. With their pick, the Warriors draft Kevin Murphy from Tennessee Tech.
Like Thompson, Murphy is a swingman who can play either shooting guard or small forward and can definitely score the basketball from just about anywhere on the court. Murphy could provide a scoring lift for the Warriors when their primary scorers, like Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, are on the bench.
After catching some breaks and adding some quality players, the Dubs and their fans can rest easy knowing their team has taken the right steps to move forward and progress out of their rebuilding stage.
Worst Case Scenario:
This is the flip side of the coin, where things take a turn for the worst for the Warriors on draft day. Instead of having Harrison Barnes fall into their laps, the Kings take him at number five, and now the Warriors are stuck having to fill another, less important need with their pick. Panicked, Golden State tries to trade away their pick in hopes of getting a veteran SF who could lead their young team. However, no one is biting with any lucrative offers, and the Dubs are stuck at seven.
With their pick, the Warriors decide to go for a big man and get Andre Drummond. While he could potentially end up being a great power forward/center, there is a lot of work to be done with Drummond. He may not fit in too well with the Warrior's offensive system, and his lack of motivation and work ethic could hurt his performance a lot on a team that may not do so great next season.
At the 30th pick, the Warriors are hoping they can still find a good small forward lurking in the shadows of the first round. They decide to reach on projected second-rounder Darius Miller, hoping he can develop after a successful championship season at Kentucky.
Fans might be upset with this pick, as Miller does have upside but may never progress into anything more than a role player in the NBA. He has demonstrated a lot of lapses in effort on both sides of the ball and could be a hard mind to work with for second-year head coach Mark Jackson.
The second round doesn't prove to be much different for the Dubs, and they decide to go with a shooting guard to play behind Klay Thompson. With the fifth pick in the second round, they go with Jared Cunningham from Oregon State.
This pick is doomed from the start. Cunningham shows good promise, but his scoring ability isn't strong enough to translate to the NBA. His small frame will get bullied around by the bigger guys, and he will struggle to get a lot of scoring opportunities, thus limiting his impact as a rookie.
With that, the Warriors have blown their shot at taking a big step in rebuilding and are now facing a very raw team without much of an identity. If this is the case, look for more booing from Dubs fans at Oracle.
Weighing both scenarios, it's easy to see how the draft could take a dramatic turn for the Warriors, considering their position in the early first-round. Golden State will have to plan around other teams' selections, unless they decide to give up some players and picks to move up and ensure they get their man. The fate of this team in the coming years could be highly impacted in the draft this year, and I'm sure Warriors fans are hoping the best case scenario becomes a reality come June 28th.