The Warriors finished a miserable 17-65 last year, and then lost the lottery going from 2nd to 5th. In this lottery that may not be the end of the world, with so many inexperienced kids in the draft the odds of nailing the right pick are no better than they were the year the Warriors took Joe Smith ahead of Kevin Garnett. The Warriors were praying for Jason Williams, with him NOT in the draft, not getting the first pick may be a blessing.
The past season was again filled with injuries and disappointments, we again led the NBA in missed games due to injury,
Larry Hughes and Danny Fortson being key losses.
Erick Dampier was hurt much of the year. Player disappointments ran the gamut, Hughes came off a promising year with an injury plagued year shooting just .383 from the field and .187 from 3 point range, the thumb was clearly a problem, but so was shot selection. A lot of talent but Hughes' name actually came up in trade talks so he MUST be healthy and improved this year. Fortson was off to a great start, 16.7 PPG, 16.5 RPG, in 6 games, when he again got hurt. Dampier never really got going with injury.
Blaylock continued to slide, and Vonteego Cummings had a horrible year 34% from the floor.
Marc Jackson was a major surprise,
oldest rookie in the NBA, nearly won the ROY if not for his own injury. Outstanding faceup shooter, tough, but undersized C.
Paul McPherson played in 55 games and was a pleasant surprise, over 48 minutes he put up 21 PPG and shot very well, everyone knew he could jump but I think his overall game was a bit surprising. Still can he do it again?
Another major key to the future of this team is
Antawn Jamison, huge numbers but major holes in his game, 44% from the floor, terrible defense, not a good or willing passer. And he showed some head issues too, sulking, complaining about the losing as if he wasn't part of the problem, he's not a guy to make his teammates better. But, he can score, he's a great rebounder, he generally plays VERY hard, and he and Hughes figure to be the 2 leading scorers this year.
The players who made up last years roster were :
- Antawn Jamison
- Danny Fortson
- Larry Hughes
- Marc Jackson
- Chris Mills
- Bob Sura
- Mookie Blaylock
- Chris Porter
- Erick Dampier
- Vonteego Cummings
- Adonal Foyle
- Chris Mullin
- Paul McPherson
- Corie Blount
- Adam Keefe
- Chris Garner
Obviously not the most talented team in the league, this team must get help in this draft and offload some vets to free up cap space. The ultimate goal is have a chance at Jason Williams in next years draft. Maybe Yao Ming or DaJuan Wagner, but Williams is the kid this team would truly love to get. He's not in this years draft so the Warriors will pick....
Zach Randolph C/PF Michigan State
I know the book says the Warriors won't take a young guy and Randolph's offcourt problems make him very unlikely to be picked, but with my choice, Chandler, off the board, Randolph is the guy. Diop is going to be the guy I'm supposed to pick but he's a major project, there's no guarantee he'll ever be any better than Brendan Haywood who would get laughter if I picked him this high, Diop has a body and little else right now. Randolph played sparingly and yet per minute was VERY productive at MSU with no plays being run for him. Reminds me a lot of Bob Lanier and not just because he's a lefty, seems to get his shot off no matter who's around, bangs but bangs subtly so he doesn't look like Shaq bowling over Mutombo. Yes he needs to get stronger, he's got some extra weight, he's not a great leaper and he was arrested prior to his freshman year(and nobody has yet to explain to me why the NCAA let him play last year), but he can score and rebound and he's only one year older than the other kids but more advanced offensively. The potential downside is there but the upside is he can get you points and rebounds and this team is likely going to draft 2 bigmen.
To be honest I'm not convinced the Warriors will take any of the 3 HS
bigmen (Kwame Brown and
Eddy Curry being the others) because St. Jean has admitted he's very leery of doing so. The Warriors were burned along time ago by Chris Washburn and despite none of the current powers that be having anything to do with that pick, it still weighs heavily on their minds, they don't want another Washburn on their hands and taking a kid straight out of HS terrifies them. If Duke's
Shane Battier is here they might pick him, there are other possibilities such as
Jason Richardson from Michigan State. One kid I do NOT expect the Warriors to take this early is
DeSagana Diop, much more raw than the big 3 HS kids, has great size but the Warriors do not want to take a kid that is so much of a project that by the time he's starting to develop, he's eligible for Free Agency. Curry, Brown and Chandler all figure to contribute on a regular basis before Diop based on everything I've read. Diop has a lot of talent but he could be the next Yinka Dare too, this franchise simply won't take that chance. If the Warriors seriously consider moving Hughes, Richardson seems like a very likely choice. I also would not be stunned to see
Joe Johnson from Arkansas moving up the draft charts and possibly be considered. Johnson is a much better shooter than Richardson, is bigger, and may turn out to be the player Atlanta thought Dermarr Johnson would be, a big SG. Richardson is more athletic but Johnson is one of the dark horse guys of this draft who may wind up better than either Richardson , Forte
or Gilbert Arenas when all is said and done. Probably has more potential to fail too, but his game may translate better to the NBA than any of them. I see the Warriors with 3 picks in the real draft taking two bigmen early and then a PG with the 3rd pick. If say Omar Cook is there at the end they'll take him and wait. Other PG's are simply too iffy,
Jamaal Tinsley can't shoot and turns it over way too much, great playmaker but the lack of a shot is a problem. Arenas may move to PG in the NBA but it's not his natural position. Cook has the tools but is also a weak shooter and one year out of HS, probably longterm the most likely PG from this draft to make it in the NBA.
Beyond that the goal is to dump big name vet salaries after this year, Chris Mullin, Dampier if anybody wants him, and create
cap room to improve ala Doc Rivers and the Magic. This team is MUCH more than one draft away, even 3 picks in round one means little in such an iffy draft, they have to find other ways to get better. Who knows if Dave Cowens is the answer or not given all the injuries and simple lack of talent on the roster the last 2 years, but another bad year could be it for Cowens. A healthy year from Fortson would sure make a big difference, this is a good rebounding team and he and Jamison together would allow them to play Jackson at C a lot, Marc is no great rebounder but Danny and Antawn would offset that. Key is Hughes has to take better shots, and Jamison has to become a more complete player, or they will lose a LOT of games again. Anybody expecting this draft to turn the Warriors around had better be patient, the talent is just too young, there's some clear talent but all the kids are coming out early and it's a crapshoot as to which of the kids will ever develop. Something has to give here, the draft is getting younger and younger and common sense has gone out the window, when I read that Jason Gardner is determined to stay in the draft even after being told he's 2nd round or undrafted at best, I have to wonder what's going on?