Golden State Warriors' Draft: A Big Decision

Sean StancillSenior Writer IMay 6, 2009

Heading into the offseason, the Golden State Warriors will be presented with a number of decisions. Do they trade or release Monta Ellis? Will Anthony Randolph start? or do they attempt to once again try to trade for Chris Bosh?

They also finished as one of the worst teams in the league and thus garnered another opportunity at a Top 10 pick in June's draft.
With that being said, and the backcourt already intact for next season (Ellis and Jackson), the Warriors will most likely focus on picking out a big man.
Golden State had a plethora of young, athletic big men on their roster such as Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright, and Anthony Randolph but Wright and Biedrins missed significant portions of the 2008-'09 season with their respective injuries and Anthony Randolph was commonly inserted at the 3 and ordered to play point-forward.
The Warriors were also out-rebounded by their opponents for the six straight year and haven't won the rebounding battle against their opponent since 2003-'04.
The Warriors also had Ronny Turiaf, who proved to be a fantastic addition as he averaged over two blocked shots per game but he too was bitten by the injury bug.
Keep in mind that Head Coach Don Nelson has an infatuation with hybrid big men, meaning a forward who not only can operate from the post but can step back and knock down long-range shots (similar to Al Harrington's skill set).

Here are a few prospects that maybe on Golden State's radar:

Earl Clark

During College Basketball's most recent season, Clark was been the most consistent player on Rick Pitino's team. He's hoisted 10 or more shots ten times this season and has nine games in which he grabbed eight rebounds or more.

At 6'9" and added strength across his body, allowing him to absorb contact and score around the basket. Though he only scored 10 points against Kentucky, he showed how versatile he can be.

He only made two shots in the contest but both of them were layups in the paint and the remainder of his production came from the free-throw line where he shot 6-for-8. He only scored one point after halftime, and turned his focus to defense, grabbing eight boards and blocking a team-high three shots.

Clark has all the tools of a swiss-army-knife; he's long, has great lift, an excellent rebounder, understands positioning on both sides of the floor, and is a great team player. Like a shot-creating defensive-minded Lamar Odom.

His next step is to improve his jump-shot and work on his ball-handling which appears stagnant at times and allows the defense to exercise trapping methods against him.

He's already warming to the task of shooting. In the Cards' win over South Florida, Clark hoisted 13 jump-shots making 3-of-8 from long range. Though he didn't convert all of his perimeter shots, Clark's showing displays glimmers of confidence which is beginning to protrude out onto the court.

He's already a lottery pick. If he can upgrade his ball-handling and shooting, a Top 10 selection doesn't seem far-fetched.

B.J. Mullens
While Mullens doesn't yet posses a consistent mid-range shot, he's long, super-athletic for a center, and was a McDonald's All-American coming out of High School.
He had a subpar freshman season at Ohio State but showed the right amount of potential that scouts are craving at the moment. Not many centers in basketball have the grace that allows them to put the ball between their legs on a dunk, so Mullens is already an elite prospect.
Mullens also was one of the faster five's in the league in transition and he also showed great offensive awareness and solid defensive awareness as well as good body-control and reaction time when blocking shots.
If selected by the Warriors, Golden State could implement him in their starting line-up by sliding Andris Biedrins down to the 4, Anthony Randolph to the three and keep the starting back-court of Ellis and Jackson intact.
The only drawback is that UNC draftee Brandan Wright would either be moved to the bench or traded to a different squad.
Mullens is definitely talented enough to vindicate the Warriors' selecting him and he should really help Golden State on the boards and in transition for years to come.

James Johnson

For a player his size, he has immaculate ball-handling and loves advancing the ball up the floor (channeling his inner Len Chappell). A multi-dimensional scorer, No. 23 can drive to the rim, convert on put-backs, and post up any defender thanks to his envious strength.

He’s also a plausible jump shooter and likes to sense his opponents as he backs them down before relying on his patent fade-away ritual from the baselines.

He’s also an underrated rebounder and uses his immense upper body to position himself around the glass.

Johnson also can step-back and nail the three and his addition to the Warriors would bring another dimension that Golden State lost once they dealt away Al Harrington to New York.

Selecting Johnson as high as No. 7 is a big reach, so perhaps the best thing for the Warriors would do is to attempt to trade down and acquire more chunks of real estate which they can use for their foundation in the future.