What was once one of the Golden State Warriors organization’s biggest strengths might now be its biggest challenge.
The Warriors built the foundation for their dynasty in the NBA draft. Stars such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all came to the Bay Area via the draft. Their development seemed to be a credit to Golden State’s scouting department and player evaluation methods.
Now, the challenge is how best to build around that foundation. The Warriors used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on James Wiseman. Though the former Memphis center showed flashes of potential, he was prone to fits of inconsistency and suffered a season-ending meniscus injury in April.
The draft once again marks a pivotal juncture for Golden State as it hopes to return to the ranks of the top contenders in the Western Conference. However, the front office appears to be quite torn on how to handle the No. 7 and No. 14 picks, with Baylor guard Davion Mitchell being the source of internal disagreements.
The Warriors front office is split on Davion Mitchell
Davion Mitchell’s draft stock has risen considerably after a tremendous showing during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Mitchell anchored Baylor’s run to the national championship, serving as the team’s top playmaker and harassing opposing guards with a suffocating brand of perimeter defense. He can create off the dribble and score at the rim, and his 44.7% three-point clip is yet another reason to suggest he has two-way upside.
However, Golden State’s front office is concerned about making him their top draft choice because of his age.
Mitchell will be 23 in September. Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that some organization members view his age as a positive and an indicator he can be a “ready-made contributor.” Others, however, appear concerned about Mitchell’s ceiling and have reservations about him being a top-10 pick.
Drafting experienced players can be valuable for NBA teams. It might be even more valuable for a Warriors team hoping to contend in 2021-22. That said, the Dubs also have to prepare for life after Green and the “Splash Brothers.” They might prefer to take a chance on a younger prospect with star upside.
Golden State hoping to package first-round picks for impact player
Then again, it’s entirely possible the Warriors don’t make either of their first-round selections.
A league source told Letourneau that “Plan A” for the Warriors would involve packaging the No. 7 and No. 14 picks to acquire a “starting-caliber player in his prime.”
This might not be new information. One Western Conference insider told Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer the Warriors could package the picks before the Minnesota Timberwolves selection translated to Golden State at No. 7.
However, the reported internal split on Mitchell and other possible options at No. 7 might prompt the Warriors to get more aggressive in the trade market. Fischer reported the team hasn’t had internal discussions regarding Wiseman, but that might change if including Wiseman (along with the two picks) netted the Warriors a star-caliber player. Or, perhaps the Warriors try to trade up the board.
The 2021 NBA Draft is pivotal for the Warriors
Regardless of what the Warriors ultimately decide to do with their picks, it’s important president of basketball operations Bob Myers makes the right choice.
Golden State should be in a pretty good spot heading into the 2021-22 season. Curry is coming off an MVP season. Thompson will be returning from an Achilles injury that cost him the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign. Green still sets the tone on defense, while Andrew Wiggins made gains on that end of the floor.
Still, the Warriors will need to make roster upgrades to keep up with the rest of the Western Conference, particularly with new contenders like the Phoenix Suns coming into the picture.
Golden State might ultimately decide Mitchell is the best selection at No. 7. Or, the Warriors might pull off a blockbuster. Either way, the Dubs have an opportunity to make a splash.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference.