Warriors' Early 2021 NBA Free-Agent Big Board

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 27, 2021

Warriors' Early 2021 NBA Free-Agent Big Board

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The most important NBA offseason in Golden State Warriors history is here.

    OK, maybe that sounds hyperbolic—and maybe it is hyperbolic. Then again, maybe it's not.

    The Warriors constructed basketball's most recent dynasty and continue to employ several of its principal players. That list includes Stephen Curry, who just won a scoring title and secured a top-three finish in MVP voting, and Draymond Green, a Defensive Player of the Year finalist. Sharpshooter Klay Thompson is in the mix too, yet his impact is to be determined since he lost the past two seasons to major leg injuries.

    Despite a lottery finish this season, Golden State could spend 2021-22 in the championship chase. But the Warriors need to ace this offseason for that to happen.

    While they will do their heaviest lifting around the draft and in the trade market, they will fortify the roster in free agency. Here's an early look at how their free-agency big board might shake out.

3. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted)

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Despite having Curry, history's greatest shooter who locked up his second scoring title, the Dubs did not have a good offense. They landed 20th in efficiency, light years behind the lofty levels that once defined this franchise.

    The culprit was easily identified: a lack of reliability around Curry. They didn't have enough shooting or consistent scoring around him, and they basically didn't function when he took a breather (101.8 offensive rating without him, which would have easily ranked dead last in the league).

    Patty Mills would help fix those deficiencies. The 32-year-old just averaged double-digit points for the third time in four seasons and splashed more than two triples per night for the second straight year. He also offers championship experience and familiarity with some of the read-and-react elements of this offense from his many years with the San Antonio Spurs.

    With the Spurs seemingly ready to lean into a youth movement this offseason, Mills could be on the move. The Warriors should make a serious push to sign him.

2. Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets (Unrestricted)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    It's tempting to say the Warriors need more size after watching what they just endured without it. Perhaps if they had a physical answer for Anthony Davis or Jonas Valanciunas, we would be breaking down their first-round matchup instead of plotting their offseason plans.

    Having said that, the Warriors have always been at their best playing small-ball, and that's where they thrived again this season. When Curry, Green, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney shared the floor, Golden State steamrolled opponents by 12.3 points per 100 possessions.

    "Of course we can win that way, you know, with the right roster," Curry said, per The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II. "So we'll address that in the offseason."

    Adding Paul Millsap would be a big step in the right direction.

    He thinks the game as well as he plays it, and his skill set covers all bases. At 36, his All-Star days are long gone, but so is his All-Star price tag. He might be in the market to ring-chase, and he might be getting squeezed out of the Rockies, with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon taking over the Denver Nuggets' forward spots.

1. Kelly Oubre Jr., Golden State Warriors (Unrestricted)

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Nothing went according to plan during Kelly Oubre Jr.'s debut season with the Dubs. His shots went awry, his reads were often a step too slow for this system and a wrist injury ended his campaign prematurely.

    This might make his next contract tricky to price, but it shouldn't push him out of the organization's plans. According to general manager Bob Myers, it hasn't.

    "We like Kelly and we'd love to be able to see him in our future plans," Myers told reporters.

    The Warriors need Oubre's cooperation, which could be hard to get if they can't show him a path to the opening lineup. But they should let him make that call.

    They could use him. He is long, athletic and hyper-energetic at the defensive end, and he could get a lot more interesting on offense if he rediscovers his outside shot. They could also use Oubre as an asset since the 25-year-old could drum up trade suitors if it doesn't work out. They also don't have an easy way of replacing him since they already have more than $154 million on next season's books, per Basketball Insiders.

    If he's willing to stick around, they should welcome him back.


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