1 December 2020

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Draft Preview: Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors are in the Lottery for the first time since 2012. Their trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Daymond Green brought them three championships and five straight finals appearances. Of course, the addition of Kevin Durant in 2017 also played a part in two of their championships before Draymond essentially guaranteed that he’d leave.

Not only did Durant leave the Warriors last season, but Klay Thompson had torn his ACL in game six (the last game) of the NBA finals when he was fouled on a dunk attempt by Danny Green. His ACL tear meant that he would be out for the rest of the season.

This leaves just Curry, Draymond, and new addition D’Angelo Russell to do what they can to return to the playoffs. 

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Or so they thought.

On October 30th, Curry would break his hand, sitting him for the bulk of the season. Draymond Green would also be in-and-out of the lineup as he struggled with injuries this season.

D’Angelo Russell would go on to have another great season, but he would be traded for Andrew Wiggins at the trade deadline.

This whole process has managed to give the Golden State Warriors the best odds in the lottery by four games. This means that they have a 14% chance at the #1 pick and a 52.1% chance of getting a top-four. The Warriors are hoping to use this pick to fill one gaping hole in their lineup.

As of right now, the Warriors lineup for 2020-2021 is looking to be Curry, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond, and a Center. A player like Marquese Chriss could provide some solid minutes, but if they want to contend again, they’re going to need someone better.

If you’ve put two-and-two together, you’d understand where this is going. The Warriors are probably going to draft a Center! They could surprise everyone and go with someone else, but unless they can find a Center in free agency with the limited money that they have, it’s almost certain that the Warriors will take one.

Here are the top three choices for the Warriors to take varying on their pick.

3. Obi Toppin (Dayton)

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If the Warriors worst fears are realized and they fall out of the top four, they’d have two options to choose from. 

Obi Toppin is one of them at 6’9, he could play as a small-ball Center, something Golden State had been doing for years. The 22-year-old redshirt sophomore had enjoyed a breakout season before the NCAA cancelled their tournament.

Toppin had played 31 games this season and could make an argument for the best player in the NCAA this year. He averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. He has also shown himself to be a great shooter with percentages of 69.8% from two and 39% from three.

He helped lead Dayton to the top five in the NCAA and was hoping to get them even more. That may never happen, but he really made a name for himself this season. 

Toppin’s play best mirrors that of a 2019 Blake Griffin. He is an incredibly skilled offensive player who can lead a team as far as he can. His athleticism and skill in the pick-and-roll looked exactly like Blake.

If Toppin were to be drafted by the Warriors, he’d become an immediate fit at the Center. Although he’s only 6’9, he’s very strong and could put up a fight against the bigger Centers. He’s also a great shooter so he could force his bigger opponents to the perimeter and then sweep past them for a rebound.

2. Onyeka Okongwu (USC)

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Okongwu is their other option if they fall to four or five and Wiseman is already taken. Okongwu isn’t nearly as good as Toppin, but his ceiling could be higher. Unlike Toppin, Okongwu is only 19 and has raw athleticism that Kerr could mold to fit their system.

Okongwu has played just one year at USC but has declared for the NBA draft and is a likely lottery pick. The Golden State Warriors have already made it clear they intend to draft a Center so Okongwu could end up in the top five if the Warriors are desperate.

Not that Okongwu is much of a punishment to draft. At just 19, he’s averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks. He is one of the most talented defensive prospects in the NBA draft this year as he also snagged 1.2 steals per game. He’s a very efficient scorer as well, shooting 61.6% from the field, but his three-point shot needs work as he barely shot any last season.

His play mirrors the play of Andre Drummond. He’s a strong, slightly undersized Center who has slightly inflated defensive stats and is a great rebounder. That being said, he’s still a good player who could help a team if he’s in the right role.

He definitely could surpass Drummond as he has loads more potential and is more athletic. Okongwu is one of the only players in this draft that could surprise everyone and become a superstar as his potential is limitless. That being said, his floor is lower than most floors as well since he is only 6’9 and has limited range.

1. James Wiseman (Memphis)

AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht

Everyone saw this one coming. Wiseman is the clear best Center in the draft and is virtually guaranteed to be a top-three pick.

Wiseman is the perfect fit for Memphis as he is a strong, athletic, defensive-minded Center. We only had a three-game sample-size of his play at Memphis as he dropped out to prepare on his own after a minor injury, but in the three games, he averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks while shooting 76.9% from the field.

Wiseman would fit in as the rim-protecting rebounder for the Warriors. Curry and Klay, as everyone knows, are the best pair of shooters in NBA history, but they still miss roughly 60% of their threes. Wiseman will be great at rebounding those, then either dunking the put-back or kicking it back out.

His play mirrors Rudy Gobert’s play. He’s a great inside presence who gets the majority of his points in the paint. He’s also a terrific shot-blocker who makes everyone question whether or not it’s worth it to drive the lane.

The 19-year-old is the perfect fit for the Warriors. If the Warriors keep their pick in the top three, expect the Warriors to grab him with no questions asked. Wiseman is the missing piece that could potentially make the Warriors start another dynasty.

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