Since drafting Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green in 2012, the Golden State Warriors have made only five NBA draft selections, with little cost-controlled depth to show for it.
Aside from free-agent-to-be Kevon Looney, Golden State hasn’t been able to develop its recent draftees into consistent contributors, with Patrick McCaw gone, Damien Jones and Jordan Bell failing to contribute at the back end of the roster and Jacob Evans barely getting on the court. Instead, they’ve been over-reliant on G League signings like Quinn Cook and Alfonzo McKinnie.
With an avalanche of free agent decisions looming on July 1, Golden State needs to secure a mature prospect at pick No. 28 who can step in and immediately contribute, while fitting into the team’s culture.
Which prospects will catch the eye of Steve Kerr and Bob Myers on draft night, June 20? Here’s two guards, two wings and two big men who they should focus on.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue
Terence Davis, Ole Miss
Carsen Edwards has been a popular pick for the Warriors on multiple mock draft websites, and rightfully so. Edwards reeled off games of 26, 42, 29 and 42 points during the Boilermakers’ run to the Elite 8 — eyebrow-raising to say the least.
He profiles in the NBA as a bench scorer with out-of-the-gym range and the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.12 is alarming, especially when coupled with his lack of height at only 6 feet tall. But in a more limited role, Edwards should thrive as a spot-up shooter and off-ball scorer peeling off screens.
While the hype train on Edwards is already strong, Terence Davis is a sleeper prospect who is gaining steam in scouting circles. The 6-foot-4 senior’s bulldog defensive mentality and soft shooting touch give him a coveted 3-and-D profile that has impressed Warriors’ brass enough to warrant two pre-draft workouts.
The very last invite to the G League Elite camp, Davis has aced the pre-draft process with a combination of strong play in 5-on-5 exhibitions, solid open gym workouts and bigger hands (9.5 inches long, 10.75 inches wide) than top center prospect Jaxson Hayes.
With a dash of playmaking acumen to his game, the Warriors could identify Davis as an immediate contributor.
Matisse Thybulle, Washington KZ Okpala, Stanford
This pair of Pac-12 wings should garner attention from the Warriors, but for completely different reasons.
Matisse Thybulle is a true lockdown defender who led the nation with 3.4 steals per game while coming in at No. 20 in the nation with 2.3 blocks per game. With a 7-foot wingspan and elite anticipatory skills, Thybulle dominated foes as a free safety in Washington’s zone defense.
With major athleticism, the ability to guard multiple positions and an underrated outside shot, Thybulle has been compared to a poor man’s Andre Iguodala, which would make him an ideal get for Golden State. He is nothing more than a role player on offense as a ball-mover, screener and lane filler, but his athleticism and tenacity give him transition upside.
Conversely, Golden State could look across the Bay and be tantalized by KZ Okpala’s offensive skill set and room to grow on defense.
A point-forward for the Cardinal as a sophomore, Okpala showed pick-and-roll decision making skills and a tight handle while shooting 37 percent from three. He’s at his best when operating in space with the ball in his hands, but also shoots well in spot-up situations.
Okpala brings 6-foot-9 size and a 7-foot-2 wingspan on defense, which will allow him to play as a small-ball power forward if he can add some strength to a thin, 210-pound frame.
Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
Nicolas Claxton, Georgia
With Green and the oft-injured Jones as the only big men currently under contract for next season, the Warriors could opt for size in the draft if the fit is right.
McDaniels profiles as a versatile small-ball big who excites due to his fluidity as a ball handler and shot-making off movement. At 6-foot-10, McDaniels pops on film with dexterity around the rim, a penchant for making pull-up jumpers and switchability on defense that the Warriors crave.
He’s undersized at only 192 pounds, so true big men will go after him in the post. He also has a knack for taking bad, contested mid-range jumpers and will need to stretch his range to the 3-point line. If he can add weight and develop his outside game further, he could be lethal as a modern big man.
Speaking of modern bigs, Claxton is yet another player of that mold who handles the ball well, can switch on defense and protect the rim.
Golden State often likes to camp bigs out on the high post and use them as playmaking catalysts, which would be an ideal role for a guy who was forced into a primary playmaking role on a squad without a point guard.
Big men like Green, who can turn on the jets and make plays in transition after defensive rebounds, are hard to find. Pairing him with a 7-footer like Claxton who can do the same would unlock even more ways for the Warriors to attack creatively in transition.