The Golden State Warriors have added a third pick to what is shaping up to be general manager Bob Myers’ most important NBA Draft to date.
Already armed with the Nos. 28 and 58 picks in this evening’s draft, Myers traded a 2024 second-round pick and cash considerations — reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi to be $1.3 million — to the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 41 overall pick.
For the first time since 2012, Golden State will have at least three draft picks. With nine free agents and possibly two max players unable to play next season due to injury, the Warriors will need to back-fill their roster with cost-controllable, playable assets if they want to make the playoffs next season — to say nothing of a deep run. Acquiring another pick gives them another way to do that.
Guard Klay Thompson is likely to miss much of the season due to an ACL tear. DeMarcus Cousins is “open to” returning, but with likely more lucrative options elsewhere, that’s a big question mark. Whether Kevin Durant opts in to the final year of his deal or signs what’s expected to be a five-year max contract with Golden State, he’ll miss all of next season with an Achilles rupture. That means Golden State is likely looking for a guard, a wing and a big man.
Myers said that Golden State worked out upwards of 40 draft prospects at the team’s practice facility in downtown Oakland, demonstrating the lengths to which the Warriors are going to make sure they get these picks correct.
The Warriors have several options open to them at No. 28, whether they want to go with a guard, a wing or a big. The most intriguing prospect is arguably Washington small forward Matisse Thybulle, who skipped the NBA Draft Combine and did not publicize any team workouts. If the Golden State is looking for defense, Thybulle would be a very good pick, leading the nation with 3.4 steals per game.
Georgia’s Nic Claxton could also be an option at No. 28, as a pass-first big man with a nose for rebounds, in the mold of a Draymond Green.
As for the newly-acquired No. 41 pick, Jordan Poole, a shooting guard out of Michigan, has been very inconsistent, but he can create his own shot at a very advanced level, so might be an option. LSU freshman forward Naz Reid could also be available at the new pick, but he’s still a bit raw with his shot selection, and concerns about his effort, conditioning and defense have dropped him out of first-round projections. That said, he could be a good value pick for his size, offensive skill and shooting.
Another possibility at No. 41 could be Zach Norvell out of Gonzaga, a shooting specialist who needs work in ball handling and defense, but could be an efficient wing off the bench (37% on 3-pointers, 87% at the free throw line).
It would be far from a surprise if Golden State used the No. 41 pick on 18-year old Serbian big Alen Smailagic, who spent last season with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors. Highly skilled and, until recently, very much unknown in NBA circles, he may very well not have been available for the Warriors to pick at No. 58. He could easily be developed over the next two years in the G League, and make Golden State look very smart in a few years’ time.