The only question is, what will they do?
No, it’s not the ridiculously improbable but still possible No. 1 and 4 scenario that Dub Nation dreamed about. But it’s still a good place to be sitting in a strong and deep draft.
For Bob Myers and Co., it’s not as simple as hanging out for the next month, working out some prospects, and drafting the best player on the board at two different slots. With the Warriors not just carrying two picks, but also being in the rare position of drafting in the lottery while planning on contending for a championship, they have a whole bunch of options.
Myers can steer the ship in any number of directions. Let’s take a look at them.
The Warriors could go the conventional route and just do the thing you’re supposed to do with draft picks: use them to draft players. With two lottery slots, the Dubs have ample opportunity to add pieces for the future, or even try to find a player in the Tyrese Haliburton mold who can help the team right away. That’s rare, but not impossible.
Even if the Warriors can’t add a Cade Cunningham or a Jalen Suggs with those picks, they can still swing for a nice player. After all, Steph Curry was drafted No. 7 once upon a time, and we’re only three years away from Michael Porter Jr. falling to the No. 14 pick.
Drafting with both picks is the default option, and if no good alternative comes along, it’s what the Warriors will do. It just means earmarking two more roster spots for potential projects.
If you’re an NFL fan, then you’re probably very familiar with teams packaging multiple picks for one better pick. It’s pretty rare in the NBA, where teams are only organically granted two picks per draft, and only one of them carries much value.
But with the Warriors having two lottery picks, it’s an option that could be on the table. If they believe that a franchise-altering player is available at No. 4 or 5, then packaging the two picks would be sensible.
It takes two to tango, though. In order for the Warriors to pull off the ol’ switcheroo, they need a dance partner that not only values having two picks to rebuild with, but that isn’t sold on the player available to them.
Probably not great odds of this happening, but something they should be monitoring.
Delay a pick
Having two lottery picks is a good thing. There’s no way to spin it as otherwise. But there are still some champagne problems that can be associated with it.
For the Warriors, those champagne problems are twofold.
First, two picks means dedicating two roster spots to project players, in addition to the spot likely designated for James Wiseman, and the spots potentially given to Nico Mannion, Justinian Jessup, and Eric Paschall.
Second, the Warriors are going to have a laughably — and historically — large tax bill, and lottery picks cost a fair bit more than minimum contracts. Having two lottery picks is a pricy game for this team.
One way to circumnavigate those issues is by delaying a pick. That would come in the form of trading one of the picks they have this year in exchange for a pick in a future draft. Even if it’s as simple as trading the No. 14 pick for a 2022 top-10 protected pick, the Dubs could save some money while spacing out their developmental projects.
Make a modest trade
This one feels a little bit unlikely to me. The cost of draft picks doesn’t quite match up with the value, so it’s hard to make a modest trade involving one of the picks. It’s nice to think of the Dubs adding a solid veteran role player in exchange for a pick, but they still have to match the salary of said role player.
That would likely mean trading the pick after the draft (when it has salary attached to it), in addition to Kevon Looney and a few other players. In other words, it’s an idea that’s good in theory, but not very good or practical in execution.
Swing a big trade
Now things get interesting. The Warriors can put together an enticing package in a trade if a big name player becomes available. Two lottery picks plus last year’s No. 2 pick, James Wiseman, is an intriguing package for a rebuilding team. Add in a fungible max contract in Andrew Wiggins that can be used to match salary, and the Dubs can at least present an interesting offer if a max contract player is on the table.
We’ve already seen the rumors about the Warriors using those assets to chase Toronto Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam. And there’s a decent chance that Ben Simmons will be on the market as well — I got a lot of flack for endorsing a hypothetical trade there, so I’ll lay out my thoughts about it later this week and you can throw internet tomatoes at me.
If the Dubs do swing a big trade, it will cost a lot. Wiggins is needed for salary matching purposes (barring the unlikely event that Kelly Oubre Jr. can be sign-and-traded), and he’s not exactly viewed as an asset on his current, bloated contract. In all likelihood, a trade for an All-Star level player starts with the No. 7 pick, the No. 14 pick, and Wiseman, but would likely need to include some other assets as well.
So put yourself in Bob Myers’ large shoes, Dub Nation. What do you do?