With so much of the next season in flux, with injuries and free agency, this draft is very important for the Warriors ability to remain competitive.
They can’t afford another missed draft like they have had the last two seasons. Jacob Evans and Damian Jones both gave them nothing their rookie years, and while they still may be salvageable NBA players, it’s been a rough couple years for Warriors rookies.
Golden State needs someone to step in immediately and provide some value. And with the 28th pick, there should be some intriguing options even though many consider this draft class pretty weak.
Grant Williams, 6-foot-7 forward, junior, Tennessee
It’s gotten to the point that every year any short, stocky power forward who led a fast break one time in college is branded as the next Draymond Green. It’s really inevitable.
But with Grant Williams, the comparison actually seems to fit. Williams was the do-it-all man for a Tennessee team that went all the way to the Sweet 16.
He averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. That’s pretty similar to Green’s stat line his senior year at Michigan State, but comparing two players based on the stats they put up is how you get those lazy Green comparisons.
You have to dig a little deeper.
Williams and Green measured the exact same height at the combine and their standing reach come within a half-inch of each other.
And Williams actually tested better athletically posting a faster lane agility and three-quarter sprint time than Green, and came in with half the body-fat percentage. That showed on the defensive end as Williams was a major disruptor on that end of the floor.
He shows good instincts and is a really smart, which the Warriors look for since they play a more complex defensive system. On the offensive side, he flashes good vision and passing, setting teammates up for easy looks out of the high post and off pick-and-rolls.
He also may be the most physically strong prospect in the draft, and he uses that brute force to bully his way to the rim and can finish with soft touches or get to the line.
He also knows how to use that strength and his body to get good positioning inside for post ups or rebounds, and is one of the best screeners in this class. His jumper looks pretty fluid as well and is comfortable extending out to the college 3, while being hyper efficient from midrange.
For now, the similarities in offensive play style is all theoretical since Williams was not used to his strengths at Tennessee.
Rarely was he initiating the break or playing as the primary creator with the ball in his hands. Instead, he was asked to post up and make plays out of the high post.
The concerns about him center around his ability to shoot the ball from NBA range, something he was not able to show during his collegiate career. He shot just 46 3’s last season at a 32-percent clip, not nearly enough to draw any conclusions about his potential there.
He’s also not an explosive athlete. While he’s far from a stiff he won’t blow by anyone on offense and may not be quick enough to switch out on point guards on defense.
And although Green has seemingly rid the NBA of the negative connotation of the tweener label, it’s still prevalent. At just 6-foot-7 and a 6-foot-9 wingspan, there’s some concern to what Williams will be in the NBA.
Obviously, the Warriors need shooting, that was very apparent during the 2019 NBA Finals. While Williams doesn’t really fit that mold, they also just need players who can contribute.
Even if he’s never able to extend his range to above the break 3’s, at the very least he can hit the corner ones at a decent clip.
And he’ll be a high level team defender, which is something the Warriors sorely miss from any of their bigs. Jordan Bell can’t be trusted as evidence by the handful of minutes he played in the Finals and Damian Jones is a walking foul.
Neither of them has shown any understanding of the Warriors’ defensive schemes, so having a competent player on the backline is something the Warriors need.
Also, with Andre Iguodala and Green in the last year of their contracts the Warriors might need someone to replace them not only in the closing lineup, but in their secondary playmaking role.
Cam Johnson, 6-foot-8 wing, redshirt senior, North Carolina
Any scouting report on Johnson begins and ends with his shooting, and with good reason. He might be the best shooter in this draft class. He shot 45.7 percent from 3 on almost six attempts per game, while averaging 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Tar Heels last season.
He actually led the Tar Heels in scoring on a team that had lottery talents Coby White and Nassir Little. His shot comes out lightning quick with very little motion and his footwork setting up his jumper is excellent. He’s adept at coming off screens in a sprint and still being able to set his feet.
Johnson also measured at a tall 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, and he used every inch to his advantage, rising up and shooting over smaller players with ease.
That length helps him on defense where he can bother shots and play passing lanes. And once he gets those steals, he runs hard in transition, creating open looks for himself and teammates.
Rebounding has been another area Johnson has improved every year he’s been at North Carolina, going from a little over four boards per game his first year to nearly six this past season.
In a league where kids are being drafted as 19-year olds, being 23 is essentially a senior citizen coming out of college. For instance, Kevon Looney is about to sign his third NBA contract this offseason and he was born just a month before Johnson.
Fair or not, at that age teams will conclude that there’s not much development left for Johnson, basically what he is now is what he’s going to be. That’s a tough sell for teams who can dream of potential of the younger players.
It also doesn’t help that Johnson’s shooting is his only above average skill. He’s a bad ballhandler, an average athlete at best and has a skinny frame.
He’s relegated to being a catch-and-shoot player since he can’t get any separation off the dribble. His 36.5 vertical is pretty good and he had the fifth-fastest lane agility time at the combine, but he also had one of the slowest shuttle run times, which measures acceleration and burst. And despite his vertical, has trouble finishing at the rim and through contact.
Let’s be honest, the fit is obvious. Outside of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant the Warriors didn’t have anyone who could shoot the ball that they could play in crunch time — and two of those players are free agents and out with injury.
With those injuries and free agency, the Warriors have a huge need on the wing. Quinn Cook showed he could shoot but the team was so reluctant to play him because of his defense that they relied on Shaun Livingston and his negative spacing in the Finals.
Johnson would immediately be the best shooter the organization has drafted since Thompson in 2011. He could fill Livingston’s role of the tall bench piece, except he can actually make defenses pay for leaving him alone at the 3-point line, something the Warriors desperately need.
Dylan Windler, 6-foot-7 wing, senior, Belmont
Belmont may have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round, but Windler put his skills on full display during their loss to Maryland.
Windler is a deadeye shooter, who shot 43 percent from 3 on over seven attempts a game. He was the star for the Bruins and led the team with 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Those 10.8 rebounds were the 10th-highest average in Division I and illustrate his fight on the court. Even though he’s an effortless scorer he also does the dirty work, fighting for rebounds and setting screens.
And for as much as he had the ball in his hands, he turned the ball over just 2.1 times per game.
He has an easy lefty shooting stroke that he can extend out past NBA range. But he’s not just a catch-and-shoot player, he has a tight handle that he uses to navigate pick-and-roll, as well as attack the basket on straight drives. And when he gets to the cup he can finish in traffic with his nice touch.
Last season he even showed off a stepback that looked unguardable.
On the other side of the ball, he uses his 6-foot-10 wingspan to harass perimeter players.
And for a shooter out of a mid-major school, he’s a good athlete. Windler posted a 37.5-inch vertical and had the fifth-fastest shuttle run of the entire combine.
While he has the height and length that looks NBA ready, he is also super thin. He needs to pack on weight if is going to sustain the rigors of an 82-game season.
His thin frame also makes it harder for him to absorb contact at the rim and allows opposing wings to push him off his drives.
The way Belmont used him was often times as a safety valve, where if nothing was going, clear out for him and let him create something. Because of that, he, at times, takes wild shots, but that seems like it’s a product of the system and could be coached out.
It is also unknown if he’ll be able to be a true switch player in the early years of his career. He’s likely to get beat by quicker point guards and doesn’t have the girth to have any chance at defending bigs.
Of the three players, Windler looks like the best fit for not just the Warriors but the modern NBA.
He’s tall; he’s long; he’s athletic. And can knock down 3’s at a high efficiency. That’s everything the Warriors want, and he fills a big need on the wing.
While he may not be the most prototypical switch defender right now, he’s smart and would fit seamlessly into their defensive schemes.
And he’s someone who can play on that second unit in place of Thompson or with him when he comes back, and be the primary initiator in pick-and-roll.
If They Fall
Keldon Johnson 6-foot-6 wing, freshman, Kentucky
Right now, Johnson is pegged to go somewhere in the first 20 picks. He was one of 20 players to get an invite to the green room on draft night, which usually signifies the NBA is confident he’ll get picked there.
He’s good at everything on the court, but not great at any one thing. He can shoot it, defend and plays with high energy. The drawback: he isn’t much of a creator at this point, with a loose dribble and the inability to make reads.
But he just makes winning plays and the Warriors would gladly pounce on him should he drop — but that seems unlikely at best.
Kevin Porter Jr., 6-foot-6 wing, freshman, USC
Aside from Bol Bol, Porter may have the most volatile draft projections in the 2019 class. On one hand, he has the ability to be a highly effective offensive weapon with his elite shiftiness. He changes speeds at will and leaves defenders stumbling, and he can finish plays with either a vicious dunk or a stepback 3.
On the other hand, he got suspended indefinitely midway through the season by USC for an undisclosed off-court violation, and had some spats with the coaching staff before that. He averaged just 9.5 points and started just four of the 21 games he played in.
He’s a boom or bust prospect, but this late in the draft, he’d be someone the Warriors would definitely take a long look at.
Nic Claxton, 6-foot-11 center, sophomore, Georgia
A month ago, Claxton would have been easily been at 28 when the Warriors were making their pick. But since then he’s shot up draft boards due to his athletic testing and workouts.
Everything about Claxton’s pro career is all about projection. He’s the prototypical modern-day center who can protect the rim, switch out on the perimeter and space the floor. But he really only showed the rim protection while at Georgia. Then he showed out at the draft combine, impressing with seven points, seven rebounds and seven blocks during one game.
He also showed off ball-handling ability that he had when he was a guard before he hit a growth spurt a few years ago.
After watching the Warriors struggle to find any useful center outside of Kevon Looney, Claxton could provide a longterm solution there.