Essay: Are The Warriors Beggars Or Choosers?
“I think we’re going to explore consolidating, looking at various trade possibilities,” [Warriors General Manager Bob] Myers said. “And that’s the nice thing about having the assets that we have going into this draft. You get in a room with guys like Jerry West, myself, our coaches … now we have the ability to put on the whiteboard endless possibilities as to what we can do. And that’s a good feeling.”
Sitting in the shadows of one of the sketchiest tank jobs in recent NBA history, Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors, had his jaw muscles clenched and his knuckles ghostly white as he waited to hear whether or not his team would be forfeiting the draft’s #7 pick to Utah. Karma was sitting on the roof with a sniper, but Lacob had something even more powerful temporarily shielding him: great odds.
The pick was top seven protected. The Warriors lost three of their final 19 games and won a coin flip tiebreaker with Toronto for the seventh spot. Before the ping pong balls were plucked, on Wednesday night they had a 72 percent chance of keeping the pick. Keep it they did.
(For those who don’t believe Golden State tanked, just stop. It’s been written about in extensive detail from several respected outlets, but here’s even more proof. The Warriors squared off against eventual lottery winner New Orleans in their 65th game of the season with a starting lineup of Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler, Mickell Gladness, Klay Thompson, and 20 minutes of Richard Jefferson. If that isn’t tanking, I don’t know what is.)
I’m not one to hate a player participating in a crooked game, but there was something “wrong” with watching the Warriors walk away with a draft pick they probably didn’t “deserve”. Instead of being in the business of building a team, the Warriors are star gazers, and right now they’re reportedly trying to mutate from beggars into choosers, dangling their high draft pick in exchange for someone who’s either already worn an All-Star jersey or appears destined to in the near future.
Along with the seventh pick, Golden State is slotted to make three more selections on draft night. This all but guarantees an imminent trade, and a few players who they’re supposedly interested in would instantly improve the team: Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, and Josh Smith to name a few. I’m not sure if the Sixers, Grizzlies, Pacers, or Hawks are interested in entering the lottery, but one might assume in the case of Memphis and Philadelphia, they’d like to get out of paying those hefty contracts. I’m not sure Indiana would be interested in parting ways with Granger, as he’s the toughest presence on a young, up and coming team that appears to be relevant for awhile. Imagine a starting lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, [Gay/Iguodala], David Lee, and Andrew Bogut. Then there’s Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Dorell Wright coming off the bench. Not too shabby.
So, if you’re the Warriors, which one of those guys would you most like to acquire. Well, if you’re serious about defending, as Mark Jackson claims he is, the obvious answer is Andre Iguodala. But if you want the younger, flashier, sexier, more exciting player, Rudy Gay would be a nice addition. With Iguodala, the other four starters already set to go wouldn’t have to adjust their own roles. Steph Curry would be the score first point guard, Thompson could continue his development as a deadly three-point shooter, David Lee could focus on getting his 18 and 8, and Bogut could thrive on the glass and as a rim protector with toned down expectations. Put Rudy Gay in there things get a bit screwy. He’s a talented player, but his primary form of contribution comes when the ball is in his hands. He has no valid reputation on defense, and I’m not sure he makes any of his teammate’s lives easier.
If the Warriors don’t end up moving their pick, they could still select a pretty good (yet non-established) player to start at small forward, or (gulp) sub in for Richard Jefferson. Who knows, maybe someone like Terrence Jones or Harrison Barnes could slide right in on a team that wouldn’t need all that much for that rookie season. It’s a tough decision to make, but if you’re a Golden State franchise attempting to win now with very little patience, bringing on a massive contract could blow up in their face no matter who it is they bring in.