3. Golden State Warriors

With the third pick in the 1993 Usenet draft, the Golden State
Warriors select:

    Jamal Mashburn, SF, 6-8. Kentucky.

The Warriors are represented by Co-GM's:
    Mike Moore

Terry Wong

================================================================= Team Needs: ----------- The Warriors have immediate needs in the following areas: - Shot Blocking - Low Post Offense - Interior Defense - Rebounding - Good Luck Charms for Good Health The Warriors are one of the easiest teams in the NBA to analyze because they have a glaring need at one position -- need we say it, center. They are at least adequate if not in excellent shape at all other positions, and they have plenty of depth. The Warriors have one of the most potent offenses in the NBA, particularly in transition, but also one of the worst defenses. The reasons for their poor defense extend through their whole team. Except for Latrell Sprewell, their perimeter defenders are average to poor. Their best shotblocker is 6'7" Chris Mullin. The undersized Warriors are consistently pushed around in their own paint area. While one player won't fix all their problems, a shot-blocking defensive-minded center will go the furthest towards fixing their ills. The Warriors are also a very promising team with a lot of young talent that is still getting better. Chris Mullin is the old man on the team and he is just a shade short of 30. The most positive aspect of the injury-wracked season was that most of the Warriors' youngsters got significant playing time. The youth of the team also led to a significant increase in mistakes, most notably in turnovers where they were 2nd worst in the NBA. The Warriors play an exciting up-tempo offensive game that when everyone's healthy, is among the most potent in the NBA. However, they score best in transition and have a poor half-court game. One of the Warriors' strengths in previous seasons, their outside shooting, suffered considerably in 92-93. Losing Mullin, Marciulionis, and Hardaway for large stretches of the season didn't help. However, even at the start of the season, the dropoff was noticeable. Letting Rod Higgins and Mario Elie go in the off-season certainly didn't help. Despite acquiring Sprewell and Houston to play defense and assistant coach Greg Popovich to teach defense, the Warriors did not show significant improvement in this area. The Warriors did improve their rebounding significantly. In fact, their team averaged a positive rebounding difference of +1.1 rpg, good enough for 11th best in the league. This should dispel the myth that the Warriors are a poor rebounding team. Center ------ The Warriors would be tremendously improved if they could even acquire an average player at this spot. As it stands, they have nobody who can block shots, who can defend the other team's center, or who can post up. Victor Alexander played most of the minutes here but at 6'9", he is just too short, especially at the defensive end. On the offensive end, the Warriors made good use of his outside shooting ability to draw the opposing team's center away from the basket. Victor's scoring and rebounding both improved markedly over the 2nd half of the season. Victor still needs to be consistently more aggressive, particularly when rebounding and on defense. Both Tyrone Hill and Chris Gatling played some minutes here but were usually physically overmatched and foul-prone. Power Forward ------------- The Warriors don't have an ideal player at this spot, but have a few players that can provide some good minutes here. Tyrone Hill rebounding improved markedly this season as he started playing away from the basket on the weak side. Hill was the first Warrior since Larry Smith to average more than 10 rebounds a game over a season. However, Hill still will never be much of an offensive threat, especially outside of the paint, and he is only a so-so defender. If the Warriors manage to acquire a center, this will free Victor Alexander to slide over to his more natural position of power forward. Alexander was planning to lose another 10 to 15 pounds over the off-season in anticipation of this move. Byron Houston showed why he was on the Big 8 all-Defensive Team, capably guarding larger players like Karl Malone and guarding smaller players on the perimeter. His 6'5" height is his main limitation and he has yet to figure out how to score against much taller players under the basket. Though foul-prone at the beginning of the year, his fouls dropped considerably by season's end. Gatling and Owens can provide some minutes here too, as long as the opponent's PF is not too physically powerful. Small Forward ------------- The Warriors have a jam-up at this position with Dream Teamer Chris Mullin and future all-star Billy Owens both best suited to play this spot. This is also stringbean Chris Gatling's best position. Mullin is the Warriors (and perhaps the NBA's) hardest worker; he is perhaps the most dangerous shooter in the NBA today; and his court sense and passing are superb. His biggest weakness is his slow feet which enables opponents to easily pass him on the way to the basket. However, Mullin is a good team defender and executes double-teams and switches extremely well. His great hands somewhat make up for his feet as he one of the best shot-blockers/ stealers from the small forward spot. The versatility of Owens makes him a very special player. However, the 92-93 season was a bit of a wash-out for him, due to missing half the season with a knee injury. Slowed by his injury, Owens did not show much improvement over his rookie season. But even before his injury, the Warriors were unhappy with his performance. He came into camp overweight and did not improve his jump-shot or free throw shooting over the summer. Besides his shooting, Owens must learn to use his right hand and develop a consistent move to the hoop. The 92-93 season was also a bit of a disappointment for Chris Gatling who had started to come on strongly at the end of his rookie season. Perhaps his hand injury over the summer stunted his development, but Gatling played very poorly at the beginning of the season. He started coming around in mid-season, but is a player without a well-defined position. He's too thin to play center and power forward, and doesn't shoot well enough to be a small forward. He has a reputation as a shot-blocker but only had 53 blocks all season. On the positive side, both his rebounding and shooting were improving at season's end. Gatling's best role is as a spark off the bench. He can raise the teams' spirits with one of his over-the-rim power jams. One of the biggest pluses arising from all their injuries was the opportunity for the Warriors to try out 6'8" swingman Andre Spencer. Spencer, who had kicked around Europe and the CBA for 7 years, demonstrated versatility in playing the 2 to 4 spots, and ability to shoot, pass, rebound, handle the ball, and defend. Other teams around the league also took notice and Spencer received a flood of offers from them. If he decides to stay with the Warriors, he has a good chance of playing significant minutes. Sean Higgins, picked up as a free agent during the season, showed good offensive talent. At only 24, he has plenty of potential. However, his propensity to turn over the the ball and his poor decision making may cost him a spot on a very deep team. Shooting Guard -------------- The Warriors also suffer an overload at this position, especially if Mullin is moved into the backcourt. The biggest bright spot of the Warriors' season was the development of Latrell Sprewell. Drafted as a defensive specialist, and with very limited prior experience at guard, Sprewell improved dramatically in all facets of his game during the season. Sprewell's shooting from the perimeter and his acrobatic moves to the hoop just got better and better. He also showed he could handle and pass the ball when he took over at PG after Hardaway's injury. Sprewell was also rated by his coaches as the Warriors' best defensive player. Sprewell proved so invaluable at both ends of the court that Nelson could not take him off the court for many minutes of a game. Sprewell is on his way to becoming one of the best all-around two- guards in the NBA. Marciulionis is one of the best offensive sparks off the bench in the NBA. When healthy, he is unstoppable going to the hoop. His outside shooting is also accurate. Marciulionis is a very good passer, having played point guard on two Olympic medalist teams. His Achilles heel is his lousy matador defense. Marciulionis is making over $2 million per year. The Warriors, saddled with salary cap problems, may not be able to pay so much to a non-starter and will probably look to move him. Jeff Grayer provides some good backup minutes. His biggest weakness is his outside shooting, but he does have some good moves to the hoop. Jud Buechler will have a hard time given his inconsistent play. Both will have difficulty making next year's roster. Point Guard ----------- The Warriors are in fantastic shape here. Tim Hardaway is one of the top 3 point guards in the NBA. He was the only NBA player to average over 10 assists and 20 points per game. He is the best ball-handler in the league. When he's on, he can completely take over a game. He should be the one untouchable on this team. The Warriors have to be careful to limit his minutes due to late season fatigue and a knee problem. That's where Keith "Mister" Jennings may come in. That is, if he can come back from a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury. Even if he does return, his minutes may be limited with the development of Sprewell's ability to play the point. His 3 point shooting is a key factor here. Our Selection: ------------ Jamal Mashburn, F, Kentucky Others Considered: ---------------- The choice is among Jamal Mashburn, Anfernee Hardaway, Rodney Rogers, Calbert Cheaney, J.R. Rider, Acie Earl, or Vin Baker. The two biggest needs for the Warriors are a shot-blocker and an inside defender. None of these guys fit the bill. Rogers is probably the best low-post defender but he's only 6'7" if that. Mashburn is a tremendous scorer from both the outside and inside, but his best spot is small forward, and the Warriors already have a logjam at that spot. He could play some power forward, but the Warriors already have a small power forward in Owens. However, Mashburn is IMHO a better player than Owens so that could free the Warriors to trade Owens. Hardaway may well be the best overall basketball player in the draft, (he's certainly the most versatile), but again do the Warriors really want another swingman? Rodney Rogers would help provide the Warriors with a tough powerful inside presence, but he's a little short for a prototypical NBA power forward. They already have a similar player in Byron Houston, although Rogers is a better player than Houston. The Warriors have been watching Bay Area product, Rider, since high school, and they are in love with him. They think that he will be a superstar in the NBA. Cheaney is another excellent player. However, neither of these guys have the versatility of Hardaway or the power game of Mashburn and Rogers. Both Baker and Earl play the correct position. Earl is too "unskilled" (in Nellie parlance) and Earl is more of a small forward type (i.e. Brad Sellers, etc.) Neither really meets the Warriors needs and could probably be obtained by trading down in the draft. Who They'll Probably Take: ---------------------- As last year's draft proved again, trying to guess what Nelson will do is an exercise in futility. However, with the increased pressure from the fans and the media, Nelson must make a move to obtain a quality post player. The two guys, Webber and Bradley, that the Warriors really wanted will have already been taken. Therefore, if the Warriors retain their #3 pick, (which we think is unlikely), they will have their pick of Jamal Mashburn, Anfernee Hardaway, Rodney Rogers, Calbert Cheaney, J.R. Rider, Acie Earl, or Vin Baker. None of the above 7 really fit the Warriors' needs, so it's a bit of a tossup. They'll probably take the guy they think has the biggest trade value. Therefore, it is our humble guess that the Warriors, with this pick in the draft, would also take Jamal Mashburn. If they take Mashburn, that would also free them up to consider trading Owens. Other Moves: ----------- Due to the "Ted Stepien" rule, the Warriors may not trade away this year's 1st pick without receiving another 1st in return since they are obligated to give next year's first to Dallas (assuming the Warriors make the playoffs.) There are so many possibilities at the moment that it's very hard to predict the final outcome. Even the Warriors themselves don't know what they are going to do. With the #3 pick and a wealth of talent on their bench, the Warriors have a lot of room to maneuver. Some possible moves by the Warriors may be: - Draft a player on behalf of another team with a subsequent trade. This byzantine move, suggested by John Hillyer in the Examiner, could provide an excellent vehicle to obtain a veteran player with the right skills plus free up room in the salary cap. - Exchange 1st round picks with one or more players involved. By combining their pick and other players, they might be able to tradeup to get the #1 or #2 picks. Orlando certainly can't afford to pay another #1 pick, but they can't afford to take on a big salary either. Any trade with Orlando would have to be creative, probably involving a third team. The Warriors may also consider trading down. They could trade their #3 pick for a lower pick and a player. Nellie is interested in Acie Earl and Luther Wright and may be happy getting a pick that is likely to snare one of these guys, as long as they also get a decent established center with that trade. - Keep their pick and make a big deal. The Warriors are currently capped and must make room, particularly if they are to sign the #3 pick in the draft. Also, Nelson may feel uncomfortable with a young team getting younger. Those factors may combine to compel Nelson to make a big deal involving one of the Warriors top young players to get some veteran leadership. The deal for Alton Lister is a prototype. Due to their salary cap restrictions, it is very unlikely that the Warriors will pursue an expensive free agent (are there any other kind? :-) And, finally, the unthinkable: sign their pick and keep the team intact. Mind boggling! ======================================================================

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner