2021 NBA Draft: 5 Key Questions for the Golden State Warriors

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports Images

The NBA offseason is here and with the draft approaching (July 29), FortyEightMinutes is examining the key questions for each team heading into the big night. Today, we’ll take a look at the Golden State Warriors.

Warriors 2021 Draft Picks

  • No. 6 (From Minnesota; lottery pending)
  • No. 14 (own selection)

1. What’s at stake for the Warriors in the lottery?

Golden State finished their season in devastating fashion dropping two Play-In games to the Lakers and the Grizzlies which made them fall outside of the playoff picture even with Stephen Curry’s historic season.

The Warriors could end up with either one of two lottery picks depending on how the lottery shakes out. The franchise owns the Timberwolves’ top 3 protected selection as a result of the D’Angelo Russell trade last season. Minnesota finished with the 6th-worst record in the NBA, meaning that they have 27.6 percent chance at moving into the top-3 and keeping their selection.

The NBA Draft Lottery on June 22 is as important for the Warriors as any team in the league.

2. Should the Warriors trade their draft assets for immediate help?

This is an interesting topic that has been brought up a lot recently with news revolving around the NBA Draft. The Warriors will have star shooting guard Klay Thompson returning to the team sometime in the early part of next season. Due to several injuries Golden State fell into this lottery level spot. Although the roster is pretty well put together and is structured around All-Star Point Guard Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Golden State doesn’t have many gaping holes in their starting lineup or even off the bench with young Jordan Poole, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Kent Bazemore having very underrated seasons. If the Warriors end up where the odds are favoring them too, if they don’t see a guy that can clearly fit into the team they have moving forward I wouldn’t be shocked to see Golden State trade back or trade the pick or picks for a proven player who can fit into the role they envision moving forward and that could just be the best thing for them. 

3. Will James Wiseman be a centerpiece going forward?

James Wiseman had a solid rookie season averaging 11.5 PPG, 5.8 REB, and 0.9 BLK per game in only 39 games played. Although Wiseman did show signs of promise throughout the season to say he had the season that was expected when he was drafted? Is probably not all that accurate.

Wiseman was selected with the 2nd overall pick in 2020 and he was expected to have a pivotal role especially with a depleted Warriors team from injuries and uncertainty. I wouldn’t say he lived up to that hype. Now I’m not going to tell you the Warriors should trade James Wiseman and GM Bob Myers said he has no intention to either according to Cody Taylor Of USA Today Sports . But if somehow Evan Mobley falls into their lap and he’s the best available player should they consider it? Possibly. 

In 39 games you can only show so much and due to a foot injury, he was playing through a lingering pain. It’s fair to say that we haven’t seen the best version of James Wiseman yet. But realize that at the University Of Memphis playing under Penny Hardaway he opted out after only a few games to prepare for the draft so we didn’t see much of him in college either. Wiseman has a lot of upside in this league. But is the right fit with Golden State where he won’t see a heavy workload with the ball when they have several shooters around the outside? This will be a continued discussion as the draft approaches and will be interesting to see how Head Coach Steve Kerr uses Wiseman in year two. 

4. How does Kelly Oubre’s free agency impact decision-making?

Kelly Oubre Jr will become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. Word from his camp is that they think Oubre can make 20+ million a year with a long-term deal. This was reported only a week ago by Michael Scotto Of HoopsHype and if the Warriors somehow end up with 2 draft picks, a healthy Curry, Klay,  and Wiggins, what is the need to pay Kelly Oubre 20 million yearly over a long term deal?

Oubre averaged 15.4 PPG and 6 REB in roughly 30 minutes of average playing time. Oubre also ended the season injured. Which is really when we saw Jordan Poole emerge into that key offensive bench role. He exceeding expectations. Poole was consistent in his playing time and didn’t hold back once he stepped on the court and was key too Golden State’s late-season success. They were playing their best overall basketball all year long which led them into the Play-In Tournament.

With how cheap Poole, Toscano-Anderson are and possibly two upcoming draft picks it doesn’t seem to make much sense that Golden State would be willing to pay Oubre what he’s looking for. Especially to just come off the bench after what we saw from him last season. Especially considering Golden State’s plan to extend Stephen Curry’s contract which will take even more money off the table. It’s becoming more of a reality that Oubre may be on a new team next season. That’s if in fact Golden State can maintain and land the two top 14 draft picks in the Lottery. 

5. Best prospects for Golden State to target? 

If Golden State ends up where they are likely to some candidates that the Warriors could take a look with their first pick start with Evan Mobley or Jalen Green if somehow they fall to Golden State. Although the odds of either of them finding their way to the Bay Area is slim considering where they are projected to go.

At No. 6 – Someone more realistic to watch out for is Jonathan Kuminga. The Warriors are gonna look for someone who isn’t going to be ball-dominant and also willing to come off the bench; Kuminga, who stands at 6-foot-8, fits that role perfectly. He’s still in the developmental process as a player and is growing each game he gets under his belt.

His only weaknesses are that he is trigger-happy at times, which can lead to some bad possessions and some bad shots, and his three-point shooting consistency. Warriors will need scoring off the bench if Oubre ends up elsewhere and the duo of Kuminga and Jordan Poole would fit very well together in Golden State’s second unit.

The other name that fits is Scottie Barnes from Florida State. Scottie came off the bench as the 6th man all year long for a very good FSU team. As a true freshman, he still managed to average 10 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game.

Barnes is known for his talent on the defensive end. At 6’9 227 lbs. I could find nobody else better to groom him and put him under their wing than Draymond Green.  Scottie Barnes is well known for being productive off the bench as well. I think this fit would be ideal for Golden State. This is probably my favorite fit for them in this upcoming draft.

At No. 14 – This is a spot where the Warriors have a lot of breathing room with the pick and someone who jumps off the board as a reasonable target is Ayo Dosunmu. The dominant All-American from Illinois showcased a range of skills this past season, averaging 20.1 points and 5.0 assists. He also shot 39% from the three-point line and 48% from the field. 

One other intriguing name is Kai Jones 6-foot-8 center from Texas. He left school after his sophomore season to declare for the draft with two years of eligibility left. Jones only averaged 8.8 points per game but he has the ability to do things beyond the range of a traditional center, hitting 38 percent from three and 58% from the field this past year.

Jones is a product in the making but his upside is almost as high as anybody else in this draft. His game style is exactly what the NBA has slowly transitioned to over the last few years. Kai Jones would fit perfectly with Golden State off the bench or starting in the future. However, Jones as a fit in Golden State is largely dependant on what they decide to do with Wiseman moving forward.

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