By Thursday night, the Warriors will know where they will be selecting in October’s NBA draft and be able to plan their offseason accordingly.
Draft analysts don’t consider the 2020 class an especially strong one, but that doesn’t mean a future All-Star won’t be found. The Warriors — who have a 14% chance at the No. 1 pick, a 40.1% chance at a top-three pick and are guaranteed a top-five pick — will be looking for a player who can crack a playoff-caliber rotation right away, but also provide significant long-term upside.
That means the Warriors draft board will likely look different than that of the four other teams picking in the top five that can afford more patience, though most of the top prospects should still be in consideration. This is not a big board, but here are 10 names to know ahead of Thursday’s draft lottery.
Consensus top three
1. Anthony Edwards, guard, Georgia (6-foot-3, 225 pounds, 19 years old): A productive scorer with top-end athleticism and the size to be a versatile defender, Edwards is the best plug-and-play option available. Though he was plagued by inconsistent shooting and wavering effort on defense in his one collegiate season, he could benefit by playing next to floor spacers like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and a demanding defender like Draymond Green. It’s easy to project Edwards in Golden State, slashing to the basket in the space created by his All-Star teammates or coming off the bench behind Andrew Wiggins and punishing second units.
2. James Wiseman, center, Memphis (7-foot-1, 240 pounds, 19 years old): At one point considered the top prospect of his class, Wiseman played just three games for Memphis before leaving the program in the wake of an NCAA suspension due to recruiting violations. Teams have just 69 minutes of film on Wiseman, who boasts an enticing physical profile but also faces questions about his work ethic and fit at the NBA level. Over the years, the Warriors have preferred to use several players to fill minutes at center before finishing games with Green manning the middle of the defense. Drafting Wiseman would signal a new approach, but could also be a long-term play with Green having turned 30 years old in March. Wiseman has the size and athleticism to become the Warriors’ rim protector of the future, but it’s unclear if he can switch onto the perimeter or pass well enough to function within Steve Kerr’s motion offense.
3. LaMelo Ball, point guard, Illawarra Hawks (6-foot-7, 190 pounds, 18 years old): If Wiseman is the most polarizing player in the draft, Ball is not far behind. A genius-level passer with a flashy YouTube highlight reel, Ball’s ceiling could be hindered by below-average athleticism, disinterest in playing defense and a shaky jumper. While his up-tempo style of play would help unlock shots for Curry and Thompson, Ball may not be able to make enough of an impact on offense to play without them, and could be too much of a liability on defense to play in the backcourt with Curry.
[The No. 1 pick would mean a big opportunity but significant pressure for the Warriors]
4. Deni Avdija, small forward, Israel (6-foot-9, 215 pounds, 19 years old): He’s a playmaker, strong finisher and high-IQ player coming off a championship and MVP season for Maccabi Tel Aviv. At worst, he could be a facilitator out of the post or a hub for a second-unit offense. At best, he becomes a second option in Kerr’s offense, replacing Kevin Durant as Curry’s dynamic pick-and-roll partner.
5. Tyrese Haliburton, point guard, Iowa State (6-foot-5, 175 pounds, 20 years old): After a highly-productive season at Iowa State (15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds in 36.7 minutes per game), Haliburton is widely considered one of the safest picks in this draft. However, due to limited size and athleticism, some analysts question his upside. Haliburton could play right away as a backup point guard for the Warriors, and has the defensive versatility to play alongside Curry while providing additional ball-handling.
6. Obi Toppin, power forward, Dayton (6-foot-9, 220 pounds, 22 years old): The reigning Player of the Year with a talent for scoring and a knack for rebounding, Toppin should regularly post double-doubles in the NBA. He would provide Golden State with a boost on offense and much-needed size in the frontcourt, but there are significant concerns about his defensive ability that could prevent him from playing in meaningful moments.
7. Isaac Okoro, small forward, Auburn (6-foot-6, 225 pounds, 19 years old): The best one-on-one defender in the draft, Okoro has drawn comparisons to former Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. He’s a physical athlete who should thrive cutting to the basket, but his outside jumper (28.6% 3-point shooter) and inability to create off the dribble is a major concern.
8. Devin Vassell, small forward, Florida State (6-foot-7, 194 pounds, 19 years old): He’s among the more prolific 3-point shooters and team defenders in the country and should be able to contribute right away on the wing for any team. If he adds muscle to his long frame (6-foot-10 wingspan), he could eventually play power forward. He’s shown some ability to create off the dribble, but that will be an area of development in the NBA.
9. Patrick Williams, forward, Florida State (6-foot-8, 225 pounds, 19 years old): Vassell’s less-heralded teammate, Williams is also a versatile defender but with arguably more upside. With a powerful frame and 7-foot wingspan, Williams should be able to play both forward positions right away. He’s also shown potential as an effective corner 3-point shooter. The second-youngest player in the draft, Williams is raw, but offers considerable upside.
10. Saddiq Bey, forward, Villanova (6-foot-8, 216 pounds, 21 years old): The Warriors like players coached by Jay Wright (Eric Paschall played three years for him at Villanova), and Bey draws strong reviews as a competitor and seamless fit on both ends. As a sophomore, he shot 45.1% from 3-point range on 5.6 attempts per game. On defense, he should be able to guard both forward spots. He’s a safe pick, but a lack of athleticism and ball-handling skills could cap his upside.
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