The Warriors introduced their three newest members Monday at their practice facility in Oakland, and while Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green will contribute in their own ways on the basketball court, they do share a common trait that made them attractive to the team.
“We feel like in this draft we hired three great people that are very skilled at their profession, but that are also great character people,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. “I put these three up against any three in the entire draft as far as who they are and what they stand for.”
Myers said several times he didn’t expect Barnes to be available when the Warriors had their first pick, at No. 7 overall, but that everyone in the club’s draft room was excited about picking the small forward out of North Carolina when they had the chance.
Barnes has been praised for his shooting ability, and he mentioned several times the advantages of playing alongside fellow shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Having attended both an Earthquakes game and a Giants game since arriving in the Bay Area last week, the 20-year-old rookie already has a one-word description of the local sports fans.
“Crazy,” he said. “That’s the first thing that came to my mind. They are just so passionate. The fans want to win so bad. They just want to go to the playoffs. I really feel like with this team herek, if everyone can stay healthy, I think all the motivation around us and the fact that no one’s really looking for the Warriors to be a powerhouse, we kind of have that underdog mentality that we’re just trying to make the playoffs.”
Barnes used the term “if healthy” on multiple occasions Monday, a problem the new draftees may be able to help with. Ezeli, for example, finished his four-year Vanderbilt career as the schools all-time leader in blocks, something Andrew Bogut is expected to contribute when he makes his Warriors debut this fall.
Ezeli, a native of Nigeria whose family moved to Sacramento, said working with Bogut is something he has been looking forward too since draft day.
“He’s someone that I can play against every day,” he said. “He’s going to make me better. That’s what my game has always been, is improvement every year. I just think that the sky’s the limit for me.”
The Warriors may need Ezeli and his fellow rookies to push those limits if they are to continue the turnaround the new owners envisioned when they took over the franchise and hired coach Mark Jackson before last season.