NBA
September 3, 2020
BY Jason Michael Sanin

What Should the Warriors Do With the No. 2 Pick?

The Golden State Warriors have a big decision on their hands. 

After nearly winning the NBA lottery, the Dubs gladly settled for the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. 

It's quite rare to see one of the best teams in the NBA with a top-two selection in the draft. But, thanks to injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson last season, the Warriors find themselves in such a position.

With the pairing of two of the greatest shooters in NBA history coming back for next season, and a chance to improve their team with this draft pick, the Warriors have a host of options to choose from with the No. 2 overall pick.

Should they draft a young player with high upside who might not help contribute to another championship run this year, or will they deal the pick for some immediate help as they try to regain their crown?

The case for trading the pick

The first question that the Warriors need to answer is whether they should keep the second pick in the draft or trade it away. Both of these options can help the Warriors get materially better in a short period of time, with the only question being how the team wants to go about accomplishing that goal. If they were to trade the pick, the Warriors could bring a proven talent into their roster or acquire more draft picks to use in this draft and future drafts.

Trading the second pick for a current player could help the Warriors get back to their championship form faster than any other option. This decision would allow for the Warriors to bring in someone who already has NBA experience and can hit the ground running on a team with championship aspirations. 

This route could also help maximize the primes of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green at the top of the Warriors’ roster. By bringing in a mid- to high-level player in exchange for the second pick, the Warriors would immediately have one more scoring option to make opponents worry about. That would open up more opportunities for Curry and Thompson, potentially, helping Golden State to remain an offensive juggernaut.

The Warriors could put together an enticing package for potential trade suitors.

The Warriors have the No. 2 pick this year, the rights to the Timberwolves' 2021 pick and Andrew Wiggins to offer in a deal. 

Is that enough to get them a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo (if he asks for a trade), 76ers-should-trade-joel-embiid-291" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Joel Embiid or Bradley Beal? We're not so sure, but it's not out of the question. 

If the Warriors decide to keep Wiggins, they could look to smaller deals for a proven player, or to acquire additional draft picks that would allow the Warriors to bring in quality talent at a much lower price. In a league with a salary cap like the NBA, the key to building a successful roster is to find value whenever possible. If the Warriors can trade the second pick for multiple pieces, that would give them the opportunity to surround their stars with a cheap supporting cast.

If the Warriors are able to find some solid players with those picks, they could turn into attractive trade options if the Warriors want to go star hunting again — as they did with Kevin Durant

The case for keeping the pick

While there are multiple scenarios that could be attractive for the Warriors in terms of trading their valuable pick, there are plenty of reasons to make a selection at No. 2. By keeping the pick, the Warriors could get a potential star while paying them a rookie salary. 

If the Warriors were to keep the second overall pick, the question immediately turns to who they should select. There are several ideas floating around NBA mock drafts — including ours! — but there are a few choices that are better than the rest for the specific makeup of the Warriors. These players in particular could be impactful for Steve Kerr’s squad right away.

LaMelo Ball

While his father LaVar would likely be upset that he wasn’t drafted to the Lakers like his brother Lonzo, LaMelo Ball could be worth it for the Warriors. Ball has experience running professional offenses, thanks to his time playing in Australia while waiting to be eligible to enter the NBA Draft. And with the Warriors’ offensive scheme, Ball could be an excellent fit.

Golden State is a team that moves the ball around the floor better than virtually any other squad in the league. This requires defenses to rotate, getting them out of their preferred alignments and opening up looks for the knockdown shooters on the team. Ball may be the best passer in this year’s draft class, which would lend itself very nicely to what the Warriors like to do offensively.

Drafting Ball would allow Curry to spend less time with the ball in his hands, affording him more chances to run off of screens to get open behind the three-point line. 

Curry having more opportunities to take spot-up jumpers would be devastating news to the rest of the league, and Ball is the player who is best equipped to help facilitate that.

James Wiseman

James Wiseman is the top big man in this year’s draft class, and the highly touted 7-foot-1 center would fill a big need for the Warriors. 

Andrew Bogut, who was a key member of multiple championship teams in Golden State, is likely done playing in the NBA. Kevon Looney is coming off of an injury that shelved him for much of last season. Wiseman, meanwhile, does not have much of an injury history and took nearly all of last season off due to eligibility issues with the NCAA while at Memphis.

Wiseman, despite not having much experience playing basketball after high school, could serve as a rim protector and a quality rebounder based on his size alone. And with time to bulk up in the NBA, his defensive abilities should only get better. If he can work on a perimeter shot to go along with his size, something previous Warriors bigs lacked, Wiseman could be a perfect fit for the Warriors at second overall.

Obi Toppin

There are some criticisms surrounding Obi Toppin now that he has entered the NBA Draft, mainly regarding Toppin’s willingness to play defense. And while Toppin’s defending could be a major red flag to most teams at the top of this year’s draft board, the Warriors’ culture could render those concerns obsolete if they decided to snatch him up.

Steve Kerr is one of the best coaches in the NBA at getting players to buy in, no matter what egos he has on his roster. And with the always vocal Draymond Green not afraid to speak his mind, the Warriors might be the best candidate to whip Toppin into shape on the defensive end of the floor.

Offensively, Toppin would be a huge asset for the Warriors as well. He was one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball last season for a Dayton team that looked poised to be named the top overall seed in the canceled NCAA Tournament.

Put alongside the Splash Brothers and Draymond Green, Toppin would certainly have chances to let his offensive game shine as opposing defenders would be busy worrying about the other threats Golden State has on the court.

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards does appear to be the consensus No. 1 overall pick heading into this year’s draft. But, if he were to be passed over by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the top pick, the Warriors might jump at the chance to take the athletic Georgia guard. And while this is not a particularly star-studded draft class, the value of getting a player that many think to be the best available with the second pick would be too much to pass up.

When looking at the recent history of the Golden State Warriors, it is hard not to see Edwards filling the role of an Andre Iguodala or Harrison Barnes. At 6-foot-5, Edwards has position versatility, as he can play guard, forward or even stretch-four in a small-ball lineup. Edwards had no problem filling up the stat sheet at Georgia, where he averaged over 19 points per game as one of the few bright spots on a mediocre Bulldogs team.

The only concern for Edwards and his fit with the Warriors would be his issues shooting from long distance. 

Edwards shot just 29% from distance in his lone season in college, which would need to be improved to fit with the ball movement heavy, three-point focused offensive attack of Golden State. Of course, learning to get better as a shooter from Curry and Thompson could accelerate that growth.

Photo: Getty Images