OpinionMay 27, 2008

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2008 NBA Draft: Golden State Warriors Preview

By jphanned

One of the Cafe’s members recently created a thread on the forums with the following question: “Who do you think would be the best pick for the Golden State Warriors?” I set out to write a brief response to the topic at hand, but before I knew it, it had ballooned into a full-blown article.

To start off, I hope things go a lot smoother for the Warriors than last time around when we saw Chris Mullin essentially trade away Jason Richardson to Charlotte for Brandan Wright. If you are talking about pure statistical output from a fantasy perspective, Richardson finished 10th in the NBA in 9-category production this season. Not to say there were not any positives in the trade (Monta Ellis’ emergence and Wright’s future potential), but I do not think I need to go all Stephen A. Smith on you guys and go on an incoherent rant declaring the trade a bust. It is pretty obvious that instead of hitting it out of the park and building on the historical upset of the Mavericks, Mullin went all Rich Aurilia on us. That is, “I will swing as MIGHTILY as I can but still miss, but swing hard enough so that my momentum causes me to almost fall on my face on the opposite batter’s box”. It is really sad to have to revisit this article.

Back to this year’s draft, the options that the Warriors will have to select from at this point are:
Darrell Arthur, Marreese Speights, Joe Alexander, JaVale McGee, Brandon Rush

I doubt the Warriors go with Kosta Koufos, Donte Greene, or Nicolas Batum (at least I hope not). I have no faith at all in Koufos and see him as a big time bust, do not think that Greene’s game will translate well to the NBA, and do not have the patience to wait on Batum. I have seen Batum’s name thrown into the draft pool the past two or three years and as each year goes by I am less convinced. Aside from those three, the highest rated players include Robin Lopez (best case is he develops into a Anderson Varejao-type) and Chase Budinger (the softest player I have ever seen and the laughingstock amongst the “Zona Zoo”). 14th overall is also too early for guys like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Mario Chalmers, and Serge Ibaka.

I am seeing a lot of Joe Alexander hype right now due to his recent dazzling workout and it has made me a little skeptical about whether he will be available at 14. I just do not see how the Trail Blazers pass on him at 13th overall if he is still on the board. The thing is that even with all the hype, I am not convinced Alexander will pass the likes of Anthony Randolph, D.J. Augustin, DeAndre Jordan, and Russell Westbrook on the draft board. So considering there is a very slim chance that he gets drafted in the top 10, he could very well slip a couple spots. Alexander is a very intriguing prospect and he definitely has legitimate upside. He has got the quickness coupled with the size to be a threat from both outside (more mid-range) and inside. There are not enough forwards out there who have a high basketball IQ and can pass well, and Alexander is one of them. I think he will be great off the bench in the future spelling Stephen Jackson at SF. He has the versatility to play the 4 too.

I do not buy Darrell Arthur at all. A big problem the Warriors had this season was consistency from the supporting cast, and Arthur has a big tendency to disappear and have mental lapses when it comes to rebounding and defense. A spotty rebounder at PF coupled with an already very poor rebounder at SF in Stephen Jackson is going to be a disaster. He has a scorer’s mentality, but with his poor passing ability I am also worried he will end up being a black hole that will hinder the development of the Warriors’ core players (Monta, Biedrins, Wright).

I had my eye on Speights his freshman season at Florida when he was stuck behind Noah and barely got any playing time. He put up some crazy per-40 averages that year and showed us last season that those averages were no fluke. Even though he only got 24 MPG last season, he put up a very impressive line of 14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. The main knock on him is his conditioning, which is a legitimate concern because he only played 30+ minutes in 7 of 36 games last season. That is something that can be improved on though and will not be a big issue for the Warriors since they are not aiming to be extremely competitive with their young nucleus until 2010.

I wrote this about Javale McGee about a month ago:

Buy on JaVale McGee. I watched him play Santa Clara two years ago when he was a freshman and could tell right off the bat that he would be a special player even though he did not play much more than 10 minutes. I definitely see Andrew Bynum potential in him down the road. He is not NBA-ready yet but the upside is way too great to ignore and pass up on. Free throw shooting is something that can be easily fixed with him and you should not be putting too much weight on his percentage right now. I usually hate endorsing 7′0+ big men because the vast majority of them turn out to be busts, but I am definitely buying McGee. I actually think he is a bit underrated because not many people know who he is (plays for Nevada) and what he can do (14.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.8 BPG). It is easy to overlook a guy who plays for a school like Nevada — just look at Ramon Sessions.

Here’s a link to his highlight tape. Be amazed. I believe McGee has even more upside than Brandan Wright, as hard as that is to imagine.

The plan for the future is to trade away Baron Davis (or let his contract expire) and groom Monta into the PG of the future, something I fully agree with. I am hoping Monta is able to improve on his court vision and that he can learn to dribble with his left hand because those are two big holes in his game right now. Rush is a good prospect but I think if the Warriors plan to build their backcourt around Monta Ellis, Brandon Rush, and Marco Belinelli, it is going to blow up in their face and the team’s AST:TO ratio will end up being one of the worst in the league. My train of thought is that if the Warriors already have their young gunner in Belinelli, why go out and draft the same type of player the following year? If they draft Rush then they are basically saying that they do not believe in Belinelli anymore. And even though I am about 90% convinced Belinelli’s best case comparison is Brent Barry, it is still too early to tell and write him off like that. The Warriors need a shooting guard who can ease Monta with handling the ball and Rush certainly does not fit that bill.

So in summary, I will rank them like this:
1) Joe Alexander
2) JaVale McGee
3) Marreese Speights
4) Brandon Rush
5) Darrell Arthur

Note that I am higher on McGee than most and in all likelihood the Warriors will pass on him. I see him being drafted around 16th-20th overall. Realistically the Warriors will almost certainly draft Speights over McGee if it comes down to those two.

Justin Phan is an aspiring sportswriter and one of the Cafe's recognized experts. He grew up in the Bay Area and has been a Warriors fan since the Run TMC days. Justin maintains that Baron Davis' beard is without a doubt the greatest thing about the NBA despite the results of the BDL Bedlam Tournament. Currently a college student at Santa Clara University, Justin looks forward to many years to come in the sports writing industry. Catch up with Justin, who posts as Rounders Block, and many other great minds at the Cafe's forums.
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