The Warriors may not have any draft picks in Thursday’s NBA draft, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be active.
Armed with the maximum $5 million to trade, the Warriors will almost assuredly use some or all of that to trade into the second round, much like they did last year when they bought the pick that became Patrick McCaw.
With the Warriors’ core commanding hefty salaries, they look to be a team capped out every season in the near future, so getting rotational players on cheap second-round salaries for multiple years is imperative to their success. And with what’s considered a very deep draft, here’s a look at who the Warriors could target.
PJ Dozier, 6-foot-6, 200 lbs., PG/SG, South Carolina, Sophomore
With a 7-foot wingspan and the ability to guard three positions, Dozier would be very useful in the Warriors positionless style. His season averages of 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists won’t wow you, but the fact that Dozier led the seventh-seeded Gamecocks all the way to the Final Four speaks volumes.
During that run, Dozier played almost exclusively at point while shooting over smaller guards and using his good speed to blow by bigger ones. If that sounds familiar, Warriors fans, it’s because Dozier is almost exactly like Shaun Livingston, someone who could potentially depart in free agency. Nbadraft.net even lists Livingston as his NBA comparison.
Like Livingston, Dozier isn’t much of a 3-point shooter, 27 percent for his career. But if he were to slide into the same minutes as Livingston, he would be paired with Stephen Curry so his shooting would be less important.
Where Dozier could make the biggest impact is on the defensive side, where his quick hands, good instincts and long arms could wreak havoc on any backcourt.
Tyler Dorsey, 6-foot-4, 185 lbs., PG/SG, Oregon, Sophomore
Dorsey landed on every scouts radar after an incredible NCAA tournament run, helping lead the Ducks to the Final Four. While Dillon Brooks got all the accolades throughout the season, it was actually Dorsey who led the team in scoring and hit numerous clutch shots, including the game-winner in their Sweet 16 victory over Michigan.
He averaged 14.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists during the regular season but pumped up his scoring average to 23.8 during the NCAA tournament.
While his numbers are eye-popping, his NBA future lies as a scoring guard off the bench. He’s too small to offer the position flexibility that the Warriors covet, but the one thing they are lacking is a shooter off the bench, even if they brought Ian Clark back, which seems very unlikely.
Dorsey would slide very nicely into that same role, guarding point guards on defense, while playing off the ball on offense. As a career 41 percent shooter from the 3-point line and a blistering 60 percent from deep in the tournament, Dorsey should feast on the open looks the Warriors offense creates.
He’s not a perfect prospect though, as his aforementioned size will give him fits at the next level where he’ll be forced to defend point guards, but may not have the quickness to be an above-average defender.
He’s also sort of a black hole on offense, averaging just 1.8 assists for his career, but if he can shoot with the same consistency that he showed in the tournament, the Warriors can deal with everything else.
Semi Ojeleye, 6-foot-6, 240 lbs., SF/PF, Southern Methodist University, Junior
The bouncy forward is almost a prototypical stretch-4 for what the Warriors want to do. He can create off the dribble, shoot from the outside, finish above the rim and crashes the offensive glass hard. Ojeleye is also a very good athlete as he showed at the NBA combine, placing in the top four of all forwards in standing vertical, max vertical, lane agility and three-quarter sprint.
The Warriors could use another stretch big with almost all of their current centers up for free agency, but Ojeleye also offers versatility to play on the wing should all of their bigs re-sign. His 42 percent from the 3-point line on close to five attempts a game point to someone who could roam the outside in a pinch.
The concerns with Ojeleye have to do with his just one good college season. Before this year, he played at Duke for two season where he did almost nothing. He’s also close to an all-offense player, something that will have to change should the Warriors draft him. He averaged just 0.4 blocks and steals for the season and considering he played against less than stellar competition, is not a great sign for his defensive prowess in the NBA.
Ojeleye is already a man in terms of his body, there’s no projections there. An important quality for any Warriors picks, as they just need players who can contribute if called upon and won’t be completely overmatched physically when thrown into a game, since we know Steve Kerr loves to play his entire bench.
Kobi Simmons, 6-foot-4, 170 lbs., PG/SG, Arizona, Freshman
See a trend here? It’s no secret that the Warriors need to balance their roster, which means less centers and more wings. Considering both their bench guards are free agents, it only makes sense for them to start drafting replacements.
Simmons is the biggest lottery ticket of this group as he’s a Top 25 high school recruit and was a big part of Arizona’s early season success.
But like lottery tickets, you could easily end up with nothing, as Simmons averaged just 4.3 points per game during the team’s last 15 games. And once the Pac-12 conference tournament kicked off, he logged double-digit minutes just one time in the team’s six games. He also showed some attitude concerns when he started to pout after being moved to the bench midway through the season.
But another p-word is what makes Simmons so intriguing: potential. He can flat-out score the ball, which is something the Warriors have been missing on the second unit.
Their Achilles heel all year has been bench scoring, especially when they give both Kevin Durant and Curry a break simultaneously. Combine that with his ability to defend multiple positions and he has a chance to be a Shaun Livingston light minus the passing ability. He’s also got one of the quickest first steps in the draft and his 32 percent from deep is not horrible.
The tools are all there for him to be a contributor, but he needs the right organization to sand his rough edges. And with the Warriors history of being able to mold players, they could be just the right fit.