Golden State Warriors Must Seek 2012 Draft Lottery Pick in Any Potential Trades

Josh FuCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2011

Harrison Barnes, a second-year forward for UNC, will likely be among the top draft prospects in 2012.
Harrison Barnes, a second-year forward for UNC, will likely be among the top draft prospects in 2012.Nick Laham/Getty Images

With a unusually solid draft this June, the Warriors addressed many positions of need and added valuable depth to a bench that was lacking last year. However, the roster is still far from being a finished product in terms of making a serious playoff run anytime soon.

Keep in mind that this year's draft was considered to be lacking top-notch talent by most draft analysts, and a big reason why was because many top prospects returned to school with a potential lockout looming this season.

Big names that withdrew just before the draft this year like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger are sure to pop up again come June 2012.

Aside from the players that pulled out of the draft this year, also consider the number of phenomenal potential one-and-done prospects that will be coming out of major college programs in 2012.

The number of super-talented freshman prospects that could come out for next year's draft is appalling.

Kentucky's Anthony Davis and North Carolina's James McAdoo are among the freakishly athletic big men that could be available in 2012. It is also projected to be a good draft for guards as well, with big names like Austin Rivers and Marquis Teague poised to light up college basketball next season.

All signs point to next year's draft being a great one for teams positioned in the lottery.

For this reason, the Golden State Warriors must seek to obtain a lottery pick next year by any means necessary.

The three main processes which a front office can build a great team with are through free agency, through trades or through the draft.

Since the Warriors are too financially tied down with big contracts to make a serious run at any big-name free agents and also lack great trade pieces to offer other teams (aside from Monta Ellis), the most logical way for the team to build is through the draft.

Because of the 2008 trade for point guard Marcus Williams (who is no longer with the team), the Warriors essentially gave up their first-round pick in 2012 to the Utah Jazz. Technically, the pick is top-seven protected so the Warriors can still retain the lottery pick with a massive tank job this season.

Realistically speaking, the team will likely lose their 2012 first-round pick. With the depth that they added through the draft and no major roster moves as of yet, the core of the team remains mostly unchanged and even slightly improved. Barring injuries, the team will do better than last year's 36-46 record.

It isn't totally out of the question that the Warriors could sneak into the playoffs with the eighth seed this year. This kind of improvement would almost assure that the team would place lower in the lottery, if not out of the lottery entirely, and therefore lose their only first-round pick in a potentially great 2012 draft.

However, true Warriors fans should feel that a mere playoffs appearance performance isn't enough. Great teams are built to make repeated, deep playoff runs and therefore create legitimate chances to win it all.

Sure, making the playoffs will provide a temporary publicity boost for the team, and a short-term morale boost for the long-suffering fans of the team, but this roster as it stands cannot match up with the best teams in the West when it comes playoff time.

Can the Warriors best the Mavericks, Thunder, Lakers or even the Grizzlies in a seven-game series with their current roster? Probably not. Therefore, a brief playoff appearance will lead only to a disappointing first-round exit, lost chances to nab top draft picks and several more years of mediocrity.

With an improved roster, the Warriors should obtain a better record in 2011-12, if the lockout doesn't eliminate the season entirely. Therefore, the team's best bet to nab a lottery pick in a loaded 2012 draft is through a trade with a team that is likely to land in the top 14 picks next year.

Great teams build from the ground up, and adding a potential franchise-changing player in 2012 could push the Golden State Warriors into the upper echelon of elite teams in the NBA.