Over the course of the quarantine, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has taken the time to interview NBA Draft prospects via Zoom.
Thankfully for them, their train wreck of a season virtually guaranteed them a top-5 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. That pick was going to be traded to Brooklyn, but since that pick is a top-20 pick, it is protected.
Prospects such as James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball are going to be lottery picks and I am sure that the Warriors have done their due diligence and scouted all three of them. But there are other players in this draft that are NBA ready that the Warriors can use, and that Steve Kerr should be looking to talk to, if he has not already. Let us take a look.
Obi Toppin is my personal favorite because I think that he would be a great fit in the Warriors offensive system. Over the last five years, they have use big man spot to operate in the high post in dribble handoffs, hitting the open cutter and stretching out the defense with their long-range shooting. Toppin can do all of these things. I can see him being a viable piece in a small-ball lineup.
He averaged 20ppg while shooting 63% from the field and 39% from three-point range. He was the best player in college basketball. It is pretty easy to see how the Warriors will be back to having one of the top offensive teams in the league next season with Toppin on the team.
Although the NCAA Tournament was canceled and we didn’t get to see how he would handle the competitive environment of March Madness, the Dayton Flyers went 29-2, proving that he is a winner and I am sure the Warriors love that about him.
Toppin does have flaws, however. Defensively, the 6’9 Toppin is a bit undersized for the center position but does not have the lateral quickness to stay with guards or wings. He’s a freak athlete, throwing down vicious windmill dunks on people, but his timing when it comes to shot blocking is not great. His footwork and timing can be coached up, possibly, but his lateral quickness and his length will have to be worked around. Who better to coach him up than an undersize center such as Draymond Green?
It was rumored that Steve Kerr was set to take a European scouting trip before COVID-19 hit. He was going to scout Killan Hayes and Theo Maledon, which is off the table now. Along with that Ethan Strauss stated that they were most likely going to send Kirk Lacob to Israel to scout Deni Avdija.
The 6’8 forward is a playmaker who can lead a fast break, run the pick-and-roll and pass out of the post. He is a tough defender and is intelligent as well, which will help him in the NBA, even though his is not super athletic.
One of the reasons why Avdija is NBA ready is because he is playing important minutes in the EuroLeague, which is the highest level of competition outside of the NBA. He averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in the Israeli Baksetball Premier League, but his production did dip a little bit when he transitioned to the EuroLeage, where he averaged 7.7 points and 4.1 rebounds. He did shoot 51% from the field.
While he is versatile, intelligent and ready to play, there is a concern with his outside shooting and free throw shooting. He would need to be a reliable shooter off the ball, because if he were to be on the floor with Steph and Klay, those open shots are going to be there and he is going to need to knock down enough shots to keep the defense honest.
The 6’5 playmaker from Iowa State is long, intelligent and has a nice feel for the game. He can score the ball, defend and stuff the stat sheet. I like what he brings to the table. He averaged 15 points, nearly six rebounds and six assists while shooting 50% from the field and 41% from three.
He is thin, which means when he gets to the NBA, he will not be able to be as physical when driving to the basket and may get pushed around. That is an easy fix, just get in the weight room.
His shot release is low, and his mechanics are a bit funky, but the shot is quick, and it goes in. In the NBA, his shot may have to be tweaked a little in order to have success.
If the Warriors do want to draft Haliburton, they will possibly have to trade down to get him. He is projected to be selected as a top-5 pick, so if they are in a position where it is the best decision to trade down, Hailburton is a guy to take a look at.
It has been reported that the Warriors are higher on Okongwu than they are James Wiseman. When I look at his highlights, I believe that the 6’9 big man from USC is well-suited for the Warriors style. He can play either the power forward or the center position.
Onkongwu averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals in his one season as a Trojan while shooting 62% from the field and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
He is a lob threat, and Draymond Green loves to throw lobs, he is a terrific rebounder and can protect the rim. Another thing that stands out with him is that he can guard multiple positions.
Looking at him play, you see a resemblance of Bam Adebayo or Montrezl Harrell. Just a relentless force down low with a motor that does not turn off.
What sets him back is his lack of offense outside of the paint. He has not perimeter shot, which will ultimately lead to lack of floor spacing. However, the Warriors have just enough perimeter shooting in Steph, Klay and Wiggins to space the floor.
While he is undersized to play the big man position, that is easy to disregard because he has a 7’1 wingspan and nearly a 40-inch vertical. Also, the Warriors played their best basketball in the past with a 6’6 center in Draymond, so size isn’t really a concern, as long as his IQ is high, and it will only get higher learning from Draymond Green.
This is a sleeper pick. Drafting Nesmith probably only happens if the Warriors trade down and out of that lottery pick. If they were to do so, the 6’6 wing from Vanderbilt is a guy they will want to take a look at.
The Warriors are known for having shooters on the roster. Unfortunately, with the injuries to Steph and Klay, their three-point percentage went down, shooting around 33% from three. With Steph and Klay, that obviously would be a higher number, but if the Warriors add another shooter, it could bolster that number even higher.
Nesmith only played in 14 games due to an injury, but in those 14 games, he shot 52.2% from three on about eight attempts per game. He made seven or more three pointers in four games during this collegiate season.
He moves well without the ball and will still let it fly if there is a defender in his face, which reminds me of Klay. Adding a shooter like Nesmith alongside Steph, Klay and Wiggins would really cause problems for opposing defenders.
Another small name in this draft but could potentially be good for the Warriors due to the fact that behind Steph and Klay, there is not a lot of backcourt scoring off the bench. I love Jordan Poole and what how he has improved over the course of this season, but him alone will not be enough. They need another scorer. This is something that has been an issue for the Warriors over the last three years. However, it had never really been exposed because they had such a star-studded starting lineup when they added Kevin Durant. When he got hurt, their lack of depth showed in the NBA Finals. Strength in Numbers is no more, at least not at the moment.
Riller is a 6’3 guard from Charleston that averaged about 22 points on just about 50% shooting in his senior season for the Cougars. He can create his own shot, has a tight handle and is a great finisher.
Because of how well Eric Paschall played in his rookie campaign, it would lead me to believe that Bob Myers would consider taking another chance on Riller, who is also a four-year college player.
The Warriors would most likely have to trade down in order to get this guy, but it might be worth taking a look. The Florida State wing is definitely not a household name, but his skillset easily translates to the NBA. He can shoot and he can defend. He is long and agile and has the ability to defend guards and wings.
Vassell is 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan and led Florida State in both scoring and rebounding this past season. Vassell could be a valuable option off the bench and will make any team that is contending for a championship a better team.
With Iggy and Shaun gone, it was obvious that the Warriors needed role players that can defend and also get you an occasional bucket or two. Vassell could fill that need for the Warriors.
Outside of Wiseman, Edwards and Ball, this draft is considered to be weak due to the lack of household names. Could be true but look at the 2011 NBA Draft and see how many stars or solid players came out of that draft. Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler have all panned out to be star players and earned max contracts. I bring up that draft to say that there could possibly be some stars in this draft, but there is a big question mark as to who that is going to be.
The Warriors are in a unique position because they can keep their lottery pick, or they can trade their pick, which they are open to doing, and go after players they believe could be the best fit for their team.
Warriors fans, familiarize yourself with these names and watch their highlights and scouting report breakdowns. Also remember that the Warriors do not necessarily have to go after the best player in the draft, they have to go after the best player in the draft that will make an impact on their team immediately.