Grizzlies.gif (6914 bytes) Russ Smith is the GM for the Golden State Warriors.  Last year as the Warriors GM, Russ picked Brevin Knight which ended up being on of the best picks in the draft.  This year Golden State has the 5th pick and Russ selects Larry Hughes, SG, 6-5, Saint Louis.

I. Team Needs/History:

The Warriors are one of the worst teams in the NBA and this is a huge offseason because of their free agency situation. There are 10 current Warriors under contract, but this includes Muggsy Bogues, Duane Ferrell, Felton Spencer, and Bimbo Coles, all guys past their prime and much more valuable to a playoff team than a building team. With Erick Dampier and Todd Fuller under contract, and Dampier due a huge raise after this year, the team probably would love to move Spencer unless someone wants Fuller. What this team needs is essentially everything but a center, Marshall can play either forward position adequately but the guard play is mediocre(although Tony Delk was a nice surprise and Gerald Madkins is a UCLA alum), and they probably won't resign Clarence Weatherspoon so they need another forward. Basically they just need players, and lots of them. I'd rate PG as the biggest need but we don't pick high enough to get one this draft.

II. My Selection:

My selection is Larry Hughes from St. Louis University. Warrior fans might think me nuts but hey I got ripped for taking Brevin Knight over Adonal Foyle last year and now that's a no brainer. Hughes is IMHO going to be the best player out of this draft when it's all said and done. No question he's got holes, he's skinny, he shot only 41% as a freshman, and for some reason he reminds me of Mark Macon who was a complete bust, but his upside is enormous. First off he's a much better athlete than Macon, so that's not a fair comparison, looking at other SG's in this draft he's a much better ballhandler than either Paul Pierce or Vince Carter, has comparable range to both, and can get his own shot. I also see him down the line possibly sliding over to PG although at this point he clearly looks to shoot first. The USL offense was very much halfcourt work the clock so alot of his shots were rushed, but the main reason he shot 41% is he takes alot of difficult shots. He's a spectacular leaper, when he takes good shots he's a good shooter, and he's a gifted ballhandler. How well he plays defense is hard to say, he looked good in college but he clearly relies on his athletic ability now and he'll have to learn. Most importantly he seems to be a good kid with a level head who will work hard and get better. The day he announced I told some friends I might pick him #1 in the whole draft, hard to put a finger on it but something about this kid just says star to me.

III. Other Players I considered:

Carter and Pierce if they're here obviously, a guy like Antawn Jamison although Marshall is sort of a tweener himself so having another one might not make sense. Another kid who wouldn't be a bad pick here is Dirk Nowitzki the German kid, I haven't seen him play but those who have say he's dramatically better than any highschool senior in this draft, great shooter and very sound fundamentally. If he turns out to be on a par with say Detlef Schremp that's a hell of a value at this spot. My fear on Nowitzki is most European players suffer defensively, and the Warriors are already a bad defensive team. Obviously what the Warriors do in free agency impacts this pick alot, if for example they sign Brent Barry, Hughes would be an illogical choice. LaFrentz is a guy who will go very high but I personally don't think he fits the current Warrior club and I think with Fuller and Foyle languishing the club will be terrified to take another big guy who's not a can't miss. LaFrentz will be a solid player but he just isn't so clearly a stud that they'll risk taking him after the last 2 bigmen bombed. I'd toss in Jelani McCoy as a joke but lets just say after the Sprewell thing there's no way in hell the Warriors will touch a kid with drug rumors like McCoy. Obviously Bibby, Pierce, Olowakandi and LaFrentz are gone in this draft so I couldn't have picked them. In the real draft I think it's likely that one of LaFrentz or Pierce will be there for the Warriors. Also rumors have Nowitzki out of the draft if he can regain his college eligibility so he's likely off the board.

IV. Who the team will really take:

Carter and Jamison are getting a lot of local press, I'm not sure Pierce will be there. I figure Bibby goes first, then Pierce, Olowokandi and then probably LaFrentz or Jamison. I think Carter is a smokescreen hoping Pierce will slip, but I don't see it. Carter is a spectacular athlete and his 3 point % is very good but I have to say in the games I saw he rarely showed the ability to just catch and shoot. Most of his 3's (that I saw I know others who disagree) were the result of a packed in zone leaving him wide open daring him to shoot. If his off the dribble game was better I would really like him because he seems to have a strong enough frame and he improved every year in college. Pierce is a very good college player who screams Ed O'Bannon to me, not that he'll be out of the league that fast, but like Ed he doesn't do any one thing extremely well. I think he must significantly improve his range and release on his jumper, his ballhandling is shaky, and I'm not sure he's really going to cut it as a SG, I suspect he is a SF. I just don't see him making an easy transition to SG, and at SF I'm not sure he's going to be a star either. Nice kid who should have gone to UCLA but I question if he's ready for the NBA. This is just a really weak draft because everyone is here 2 years or more early, alot of these kids could eventually have been great picks, but they need the time in college. The 4 year guys in this draft are all primarily mid to late first rounders, guys like Jr Henderson or Toby Bailey who while productive as freshmen were obviously not good enough to go pro early and were told so repeatedly when they considered it. Most of these other kids are being told how good they are and unfortunately they all believe it. Rashard Lewis and Al Harrington among others all think they're the next Garnett but lets face it, they're far more likely to be the next Jermaine O'Neal.

V. Other moves the team should make:

Obviously the big decisions are what to do with Latrell Sprewell and what to do with Caffey, Jim Jackson, Spoon and the other free agents. If Sprewell can be traded for close to market value they have to do it, he's persona non grata no matter who is the coach and GM. They must lock up Dampier long term or they'll lose him after this year. They MUST get a young PG who can play, they keep bringing in old guys but they have to get a young one pretty soon. If it were possible to move up for Bibby they'd do it, I'm convinced Bibby is too slow defensively and his shot isn't quite as good as people seem to think. I'd actually prefer to trade for Steve Nash, he'd cost less in trade and give you pretty equal value. Bibby will probably be a better player but not by as much as you might think right now. Bibby is clearly a better playmaker but Nash is a better shooter and already an established entity. It's widely assumed the team will make a big run at Brent Barry, obviously the Rick Barry connection and that he's a local kid, but also he fits a need. However Barry's stock is down after not making the Heat playoff roster, he seems injury prone and inconsistent, and the team might not want him. I suspect they'll push to get Caffey but I think he might have played well enough to convince some better teams he's worth throwing some money at. He could be on the verge of blossoming into another Jayson Williams.

I personally am not a PJ Carlesimo fan but I think he'd have to do something terrible to get fired now after the Sprewell thing. Too many people are overlooking his mediocre coaching and complete lack of self control with his players, he didn't deserve what Sprewell did, but there are hundreds of guys who could do a better job with this team IMHO. I like Garry St. Jean although he might be too much of a nice guy to be a great GM. This team has to do something to generate some excitement. I'm a longtime fan(since the early 70's) and I didn't attend a single game last year and barely watched them the last half of the season (until they signed Madkins). The team is just treading water and they have to give the fans a reason to believe they want to get better. Hopefully this will be the year they make a good pick and use some cap room to sign players that will help this team. In Dampier they have a nucleus to build around, but Dampier is not an all star caliber guy and that's what intrigues me about Hughes, if he reaches his potential he's a perennial all star IMHO. Guys like that don't come along often and it's also no coincidence that he plays the same position as Latrell Sprewell. A year from now I might look back and think "why did I pick him?" but I doubt it.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner

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