Warriors apply logical NBA draft strategy with championship clock ticking

Warriors apply logical NBA draft strategy with championship clock ticking originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – There are hundreds of examples, in every major professional sport, of draft-day misjudgment, of flowery self-flattery that in a matter of months turns to regret and, often, an executive losing his job.

So, the Warriors on Thursday utilized their limited options in the 2024 NBA Draft to make decisions that won’t light up social media but make a statement about their sense of urgency.

They made moves that reaffirmed their commitment to maximizing the remaining years of the Stephen Curry era.

Golden State added three 20-somethings that carry resumés. Average age: 24.

“We’re not sitting here just trying to draft older dudes,” general manager Mike Dunleavy said during a news conference at Chase Center. “We’re trying to draft guys that are good basketball players. If it takes just a short amount of time to evaluate that, or a longer period, we’re less worried about age.”

With no first-round pick and, therefore, little chance of finding a future All-Star, Golden State collected players that defy the NBA draft trend of seeking teenagers with “upside.” Another logical trend in what was widely considered an unexceptional draft.

The Warriors on Thursday morning traded their only pick, 52nd overall, to Oklahoma City for 26-year-old Lindy Waters III, a wing who has endured three years of pro hoops, the last three in the Thunder system.

“I don’t think we would have traded for a guy using a draft pick if we didn’t think that (he can compete for a spot in the rotation),” Dunleavy said. “With his skill set and the way he plays, it fits how we play. We feel like he’s a guy we can plug and play.”

On Thursday afternoon, they reacquired that No. 52 pick (which OKC had traded to Portland) and selected 24-year-old Ouinten Post, a 7-foot center who began his journey in the Netherlands before playing 124 games at two Division I colleges in the United States.

“We identified him as a guy who can shoot the ball and stretch the floor, and he’s got really good size,” Dunleavy said. “We think he rebounds. He defended at the level at the rim that is NBA-acceptable. Good passer. Fits a lot of things we look for.”

Less than one hour later, the Warriors reached an agreement on a two-way contract with 22-year-old Reece Beekman, a 6-foot-2 point guard who started 121 of 126 games at the University of Virginia and was voted ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and as a senior.

We can’t know how much these three acquisitions will contribute to the Warriors, but the strategy of drafting “experienced” prospects is entirely logical for a franchise more invested in 2025 than 2030.

A franchise that is trying to fill the gaps between at least two decorated veterans, Draymond Green and Curry, and the four youngsters – Trayce Jackson-Davis, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Brandin Podziemski – the front office cites as keepers.

That was the plan entering the week. And remained so through the end of the draft.

The Warriors, you may recall, selected five teenagers over the three drafts ending in 2022. James Wiseman (2020), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (2022) and Ryan Rollins (2022) were traded. Only Kuminga and Moody remain.

Kuminga is 21 now and last season flashed enough visible improvement to move into the starting lineup. Moody turned 22 last month and proved himself capable of a spot in the rotation.

But this draft exercise was about finding players who might not be bound for stardom but have a chance to contribute quickly. The three members of Golden State’s four-ring club are aging. Curry is 36, Green is 34. Klay Thompson, should he return, is 34. Then, too, the Warriors are maneuvering for the possibility of adding another accomplished veteran.

They know what they want. And they know they need supplementary players with salaries that are easy on the payroll. This was a case of low-risk gambling, with the hope of high rewards to come. And soon.

“For me, as an evaluator, the more things a guy can do well, the more I like a guy,” Dunleavy said. “As opposed to some of these guys who don’t do a lot of things, or have only done it for a short period of time.”

Waters, Post and Beekman offer an abundance of videos for evaluation. Reduces the element of mystery, which for these Warriors, at this time, is a risk too high.

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