Warriors' 2022 Free-Agent Big Board, Top Players to Target

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2022

Warriors' 2022 Free-Agent Big Board, Top Players to Target

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    The Golden State Warriors will carry a luxury-tax bill into the 2022 NBA offseason.

    Even if the organization wants to spend more on this roster, there are only so many avenues available to the front office.

    Still, with Bird rights on certain free agents and the taxpayer's mid-level exception, there are a few spots where the Warriors can (sort of) splurge.

    Once free agency opens, here is where the front office should put its focus.

3. Kyle Anderson

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    It's possible Golden State builds its summer strategy around talent retention. The Dubs are a contender as is, so trying to hold it together could make all kinds of sense.

    Having said that, it's possible they'll seek outside help—to either cover up an absence or upgrade some aspect of their squad.

    If the Warriors go that direction, then Kyle Anderson should appear prominently on the radar. His ball and movement skills are perfectly constructed for head coach Steve Kerr's system, which makes sense when both were forged under the direction of San Antonio Spurs skipper Gregg Popovich.

    The only knock on the 28-year-old is a somewhat shaky outside shot (career 33.4 percent), but everything else is solid or better.

    Anderson has the vision to feed open teammates, the versatility to defend multiple spots, the touch to convert most of his inside-the-arc chances and the veteran know-how to quickly assimilate to this locker room.

2. Gary Payton II

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    Gary Payton II was a world-class defender long before this season started. The problem was he couldn't find an offensive niche, which meant he couldn't carve out a big enough role to showcase his skills.

    That all changed in Golden State, where the 6'3" shape-shifter found offensive life as basically a (super-) small-ball big. He lurked in the dunker's spot, set screens and rolled to the rim or occasionally launched triples from the short corner. On defense, he routinely handled the toughest backcourt assignment and pestered those guards up and down the floor.

    The 29-year-old's unique versatility could soon get him paid. There's at least one prominent Warrior who hopes this club does the paying: franchise face, Stephen Curry.

    "We'll see [Warriors president of basketball operations] Bob Myers at the practice facility, and Steph will be like, 'Don't let that man go nowhere and have him guarding me in games. I don't need that, Bob,'" Payton wrote on The Players' Tribune.

    Provided Payton's market doesn't erupt—a distinct possibility since few clubs have the skill players and system to maximize his impact—he should almost certainly be worth the cost for the Warriors.

1. Kevon Looney

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    Golden State will invariably be linked to various bigs this summer—Rudy Gobert's name has already bounced around—and probably will keep doing so until James Wiseman proves he can handle the starting center spot.

    However, all of that chatter ignores one thing: The Warriors already have a more-than-suitable starter in Kevon Looney.

    Sure, the 26-year-old may not have tremendous size (6'9", 222 lbs) or a knockout-powered scoring punch (career 4.7 points per game), but he does have a doctorate-level understanding of the Warriors' way. He also has two championship rings already from his time with the team and could soon contribute to collecting a third.

    Looney has his limitations, but he's an effortless fit in this system at both ends. He has likely played his way into a pay raise, and Golden State should be ready to foot the bill.