Who will get to the playoffs faster, the 49ers or Warriors? My money is on the 49ers, but the Warriors could change the dynamic with shrewd moves in Wednesday’s NBA draft and in the ensuing trade market.
The Warriors’ needs are obvious:
» A great shooter who could be depended on to bury the winning basket in the final seconds.
» A more physical presence in the middle, offensively and
» A young point guard who could play when Baron Davis is injured — which is often — and push Davis to play better when he’s healthy.
It’s not likely they can address the first need in this draft. Adam Morrison, who would be perfect, won’t get past Portland at No. 4. J.J. Redick may fall some because of his recent DUIarrest, but most NBA observers think Houston will grab him — and Redick reportedly had a great pre-draft workout in Houston.
The second need may be the most likely to be filled. When I talked to Warriors executive Rod Higgins last week, he specifically mentioned Patrick O’Bryant, a 7-foot sophomore center from Bradley, as one of the players who might be available to the Warriors with the ninth pick.
If they can’t get a shooter or a big man, the Warriors would likely go for a point guard, and either Marcus Williams or Randy Foye will
probably be available.
Then, the Warriors need to define their team better. They have some good individual pieces, but not a coherent team.
The void in the middle is a major problem. Because Adonal Foyle is undersized and Troy Murphy
doesn’t like to play inside, the Warriors have no inside presence on either end of the court.
No matter who they get in the draft, they should move Murphy, who’s a fantasy league player. If you’ve got a team in one of those leagues, you love Murphy because of his statistics, but in an actual game, he has little impact.
The Warriors’ No. 1 draft choice in 2005, Ike Diogu, was a scoring and rebounding machine in college and he excelled in both aspects when he played last season. He should be the starting power forward, backed up by another 2005 rookie, Chris Taft.
If O’Bryant is drafted, he should get a shot at the starting role. If he isn’t, the Warriors should move Andris Biedrins into the starting position and have Foyle as a backup. Biedrins is still growing and will probably be a legitimate 7-footer by next season. He has no shot, but he has very quick feet and hands and will probably score 12 to 15 points a game just by putting missed shots back up.
If Williams or Foye is drafted, the Warriors will have their backup point guard and perhaps Davis will be pressured to play in his most effective pattern, driving the lane and either passing off for easy shots or taking it to the basket himself, instead of throwing up ill-advised 3-point shots.
Meanwhile, I’d like to see more of a lineup with Monta Ellis, a budding star, at shooting guard with Jason Richardson sliding over to small forward. That would make Mike Dunleavy the sixth man, a role to which he’s better suited than starting.
Then, maybe, the Warriors could beat the 49ers back to the playoffs.