The Warriors’ first pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft is just the start of their rebuilding process.
New general manager Bob Myers had emphasized at a pre-draft meeting with media last week that it’s important to have what Jerry West calls “assets,” players that are good enough to help you, but also enticing for other teams if you want to make a trade.
That description would seem to fit their No. 1 pick, North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, a smooth shooter and all-round player. ESPN analysts thought Thursday night that Barnes might be a better pro player than he was in college.
Barnes looked like a pro player when he was in college, and his only flaw might be a lack of aggressiveness. He’s also a good 3-point shooter, coming to a team that is already one of the best in that department.
He was expected to go higher, probably at No. 5. When he became available, Myers said his phone suddenly got very busy with teams wanting to trade for him. Myers said thanks, but no thanks.
The one thing the Warriors have clearly needed is a big man in the middle who can score, rebound and play defense. There was one big man available, 6-foot-11 Andre Drummond, but his value is measured in potential, not actual performance so far. That’s often true of big men, but Myers also made the point last week that drafting for need instead of getting the best player available is never a good idea. Warriors fans who remember picks like Joe Barry Carroll (No. 1) and Chris Washburn (No. 3) would certainly agree.
Drummond was the one player available at that point who had the biggest upside, but Myers had noted earlier that there was no way of knowing whether he would fulfill his potential. That’s the biggest problem with the NBA Draft. Because the players are so young — Drummond came out after his freshman season at Connecticut — it’s much more difficult to judge their potential.
While the season was ongoing, the Warriors made a trade for center Andrew Bogut, who was injured and out for the season. Bogut is the scorer the Warriors have lacked in the middle for years and a good rebounder, though not a great defender. Given his injury history, it would still be a good idea for the Warriors to look for a backup at center.
For physical and emotional reasons, Andris Biedrins is a lost cause.
There was one other intriguing player, point guard Damian Lillard of Weber State who was expected to be available when the Warriors drafted, but instead went to the Portland Trail Blazers one pick prior. Lillard is from Oakland, which has a history of producing good point guards, including Gary Payton and Jason Kidd, who played at St. Joseph’s in Alameda but whose family lived in Oakland. Lillard would have been a popular choice, but we’ll never know if the Warriors would have taken him.
We’ll know only in hindsight whether this draft will be a good one for the Warriors, but they have good decision-makers, especially with Jerry West in the mix. I think their future will be bright.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.