Well, this is puzzling. The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight, but for the first time in a dozen or so years, the Warriors will not have a shot at the number one pick. Of course, if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense that in this loaded draft, the Warriors have their lowest pick in years. But don’t abandon all hope, ye who enter here; in recent years, some gems have been unearthed in the #18 position:
- 2006 #18: Washington takes Oleksiy Pecherov (Ukraine) BUT the 20-25 picks were all solid contributors in their rookie year and look to have good careers in the league: Renaldo Balkman (NY), Rajon Rondo (Bos), Marcus Williams (NJ), Josh Boone (NJ) and Kyle Lowry (Mem).
- 2005 #18: Boston takes Gerald Green. Note: Hakim Warrick was the 19th pick.
- 2004 #18: New Orleans takes J.R. Smith. Josh Smith was the 17th pick and Dorrell Wright and Jameer Nelson were the 19th and 20th picks, respectively.
- 2003 #18: New Orleans takes David West, who is now a double-double machine and one of the better low post scorers in the league.
So, the conclusion is that it is possible to find a very good player in the 18 hole, but who will be available? The Warriors obviously need either an athletic big man or possibly another point guard (assuming Sarunas will be shipped). Here are some possibilities:
- Tiago Splitter (Brazil), PF: This will be the fourth consecutive draft that Splitter has declared for, and as in all prior years, there is a concern over whether the team will be able to sign him. Here are some of his positives (according to ESPN.com): “He’s very long and runs the floor well. He’s a good, but not great, athlete. He’s fearless and doesn’t mind contact in the paint. His athleticism and coordination are also improving. Despite his youth, scouts say Splitter plays like a 25-year-old.”
- Acie Law (Texas A&M), PG: He’s got the speed, the NCAA pedigree and the ball-handling skills that would thrive in Nellie’s system as a backup to Baron Davis. Having Law would also allow Monta Ellis to be a combo-guard, rather than forcing Ellis to run the offense during Davis’ inevitable injury time. But is giving up on Ellis as a point guard a wise move?
- Jason Smith (Colorado St), C: Scouts have dubbed him a sleeper, which is really just a euphemism for “might be good, might be a bust.” The big man played against second tier competition at Colorado State and scouts say he struggles against bigger, stronger players. We’ve already got Patty O’Bryant filling the role of skilled, weak big man with potential anyway. Plus, he kind of looks like Todd Fuller.
- Sean Williams (Boston College), PF: Probably (most certainly) a reach at 18, since he’s pegged to go in the late first/early second round, but Williams has athleticism, athleticism and athleticism. He could run and dunk and block to his heart’s delight in the Warriors’ system. But then again, he did get kicked off the BC team for disciplinary issues and he’s clearly a knucklehead. Put him next to the Beard and Stephen Jackson, and he might explode.
- Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech), SF: The springy swingman has what Bill Simmons described as “nuclear athleticism.” The freshman is reputed to be a great kid: smart and hard-working. Right now, he’s a bit of a tweener, reminiscent of Josh Smith. He’s also a lefty, which is fun. Despite our glut of swingmen, Young would be a great pick, wethinks.
- Joakim Noah (Florida), PF: Ok, as a UCLA fan, Noah’s been the bane of our existence for the last two years. It’s highly unlikely he’ll fall to the 18th pick, but if he’s there at 8-10, would a team like Sacramento swap the #10 pick for the #18 pick and say, Mickael Pietrus? We would think so. The reality is that Noah would be a great fit in the Warriors system. He would run the floor, bring intensity and cause that chaos that the W’s thrive upon.