OAKLAND — After three championships and two utterly disappointing NBA Finals losses, Bob Myers can still rattle off every pick he’s made as a general manager for Golden State. Many of those selections have turned into contributing players for the Warriors while only a few have proved to be flops.
“Well going back to Draymond — that obviously worked,” Myers said with a chuckle. “Festus [Ezeli] I thought was good. He helped us play and obviously had an injury but I think he was a good pick. Now [Nemanja] Nedovic probably wasn’t”
Myers has helped make a total of seven draft picks for the Warriors and on Thursday, he’ll prepare to make two more with the No. 28 and 58 slots. But considering the crippled state of their existing roster and the restrictions they face with the salary cap and luxury taxes, this could be the most important draft of Myers’ career.
“These decisions we make tomorrow and in the next couple of weeks, will affect next year, and the following year and the following year,” Myers said. “You really have to be on point.”
It’s been a total of six days since the Warriors fell to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. And just 24 hours after that franchise-shaking game, Myers struggled to fully wrap his head around the task before him.
Now nearly a week removed from that ordeal, his, and the Warriors focus has shifted towards the New York and the NBA Draft, which could spell reinvigoration for several franchises in the league, including Golden State.
“We’ve got a lot of good people that have been focussed on it all year,” Myers said. “You rely on the people you work with, they’re very good… But the draft is always really fluid and constantly changing.”
Ready seems like an odd word to use, considering that no one in the Warriors organization could have been “ready’ for the situation they now find themselves in.
Along with losing for the second time in five trips to the Finals, the Warriors also watched two key contributors in Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant go down with catastrophic injuries, putting their roster in a tail-spin midway through June.
With Durant and Thompson both out for the majority of the 2019-20 season with Achilles and ACL tears, respectively, the Warriors are also confronted with re-signing both of them to max contracts. This will cost Golden State upwards of $375 million in luxury taxes if, in fact, they can find a way to ink the pair.
According to Myers, money should not as much of an issue as it is for other teams in the NBA thanks to the Warriors owner, Joe Lacob, who has been open to any and all options that Myers has reasonably pitched to him over the last five years.
The options that Golden State does have in their back pocket, though, are the mid-level exception (MLE) and the disabled player exception (DPE), which will afford the Warriors $5.7 million (MLE) and $9.2 million (DPE) to offer free agents.
The Warriors exercised their MLE on DeMarcus Cousins last season and with Durant expected to be out for a full calendar year, Golden State would qualify for the DPE.
All things considered, the current state of the Warriors roster also makes their draft that much more essential with a playoff bid still set as a goal for the 2019-20 season. With this in mind, according to Myers, they want players who can play now. This, in part, has been the reason why Golden State has hosted between 30 and 40 prospects for workouts over the last few weeks leading up to the draft.
But selecting quality players may not be all that easy, especially when you look at where the Warriors will be picking. With the 28th and 58th overall selections, Golden State is fighting against history as very few players have produced within that range.
While gems like Tony Parker have been found as late as the No. 28 pick, there have been far more duds. Just in the last decade, players like Donte Greene, who has been out of the NBA since 2012, C.J. Wilcox, who’s appeared in a total of 66 NBA since 2014, and Perry Jones III, who spent only three seasons in the NBA and averaged only 3.4 points per game have been picked at in the No. 28 spot.
And the odds of picking a usable player at 58 get even slimmer.
“There have been guys drafted there that can change the course of a franchise,” Myers said. “It does happen. It’s rare. And we try to do that every year. We hold ourselves to the highest standards that we can.”
One thing that bodes well for Golden State is the fact that they have, in a way, hit on late-round picks over the last eight years.
Most notably, as Myers pointed out was Green, who the Warriors drafted with the No. 35 pick in 2013. Since then, Green has developed into a cornerstone piece for the franchise after starting on three championship rosters and earning a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2017.
Along with Green, the Warriors have also found production from Ezeli, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones, who have all seen starting roles on the team and have contributed to the banners that now hang at Oracle Arena.
But in that same breath, the Warriors do know that not every pick will go well and some players, like the Nedovics of the world, can turn into flops.
Despite this fact, the Warriors are determined to add players who can make an immediate impact on their team, which is a task that may be easier said than done.
“The point is that we’d like to get them all right. We try. But I don’t think anyone is that good,” Myers said. “Don’t report that anybody can get all of those right. If you look at the numbers, the chances of success at that range are pretty low. If you get it right, it’s a huge payoff.”