Was having a pretty good discussion over on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gswscribe) about who the Warriors should draft.
The assumption, or the hypothetical situation, is that the Warriors get the No. 1 pick in the draft (which they have a good chance of doing, considering they have one of the worst records in the league). What should they do? The most popular options in the discussion were the following:
* Take the guy considered far-and-away the best player in the draft, Kentucky PG John Wall, and create room for him by trading guard Monta Ellis and/or Stephen Curry
* Trade the pick and get a player at a position they need more, such as Ohio State swingman Evan Turner or Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins, and run the risk of passing on the player many expect will turn out to be one of the greats
* Draft Wall and play him with Ellis and Curry, creating an explosive-yet-tiny perimeter
For the record, if they get No. 1, I say cash in on the Wall hype and get the No. 2 plus whatever you can. Then with the No. 2, take Evan Turner.
Some think that’s crazy. How do you pass on John Wall? How do you risk walking away from the guy predicted to be the next great, great point guard? Stephen Curry is how.
From my end, the Warriors have a good young point guard. That position is set for years to come. Is John Wall an upgrade? Possibly. He is certainly physically and athletically superior. But he is that much better to justify discarding Curry? I don’t think so.
Among other things, the Warriors need a playmaker at the small forward or shooting guard positions, especially someone with size. They need another guy who can make plays from various spots on the floor (the top, from the wing, from the post) and facilitate the offense when they have a mismatch. Stephen Jackson was that guy. Evan Turner might wind up even better than Jackson. At 6-foo-7, 205 pounds, he has all the tools. Put him at SF, you can have Curry and Ellis, or even Morrow, on either side of him. You put him at SG, you have the backcourt of the future with him and Curry. A traditional backcourt. And a cheap one for the next three years.
Of course, that means moving Monta Ellis. But imagine what you could get for Ellis (with four years, $44 million) if you tack on the No. 1 pick. Obviously, it all depends on who get No. 2. But do you think the Knicks would do a sign-and-trade with David Lee for a chance at John Wall? Would Minnesota give up Al Jefferson?
Here is my thinking: You don’t have to have the best point guard to win big. You just need a really good one. If you already have one, why grab another one? The times where teams are burned by passing up the best available player is usually when the back-up plan is a relative stiff or a project. If you get a pretty good player, passing up a great one is not so bad. People always talk about how Portland blew it because they drafted Sam Bowie over Jordan. No one talks about how Houston, who had the No. 1 pick, also passed up Michael Jordan. Because they drafted Hakeem Olajuwon.
Did Toronto blow it by not taking Dwyane Wade at No. 4 in 2003? No. They got Chris Bosh. Oklahoma City passed up Tyreke Evans just like Memphis did. But Memphis drafted Hasheem Thabeet and Oklahoma City, which already had Russell Westbrook, drafted James Harden. Did OKC make a mistake? I don’t think so.
Evan Turner is, by most analysis I’ve read and from what I think in the few games I’ve seen, is going to be pretty good. If you walk away from the draft with Curry, Turner and a third player as a result of trading Wall (and maybe Ellis), that is a respectable route to take.
Of course, if Turner turns out to be a bust and Wall a star, the Warriors would never hear the end of it. But I history would be harsher on the franchise if it gave up Curry for Wall, and Curry turns out to be a star while Wall turns out to be a bust. That is just the risk of the draft.
I am not a fan of the small backcourt. To me, it doesn’t produce championships, which is the ultimate goal. Therefore, any backcourt combination of Wall/Curry/Ellis is not ideal. It creates too many problems on defense, since neither are taller than 6-foot-4, and defense is necessary for true basketball success. Sure, they would be explosive and exciting and fun to watch. But they won’t win big. Because in the end, you have to defend Kobe, and Brandon Roy, and Manu Ginobili, and J.R. Smith, and O.J. Mayo, and Kevin Martin, and, eventually, Marcus Thornton.
I think Wall is a beast. But you don’t have him to win. Curry is turning out to be really good, and is better than Wall in a way that pays big dividends. What do you hear about just every PG who comes into the league? He needs to learn to shoot. Well, the Warriors have a PG who can shoot. I think it is way too risky to give up that guarantee you have in the bank, for – essentially – more athleticism and physical dominance at the position.
I will say this. I am certainly not opposed to drafting Wall and trading Curry and/or Ellis. If the Warriors decide to go with Ellis at shooting guard for the future, they need a solid PG next to them. I wouldn’t be mad at all if they drafted Wall and went with him and Ellis. Because of Wall’s athleticism, and size, I think those two have a better chance of excelling as a small backcourt than Curry and Ellis. I still think Wall would have to be the undisputed point guard and Ellis would be the SG.
My only concern is at the end of the day, unless you parlay Curry into something really good, you only have two positions addressed – the same two positions you already had addressed. Even if you are now better in the backcourt, you still need to address the frontcourt. If you roll with Curry as your PG, and trade down for Turner (especially if you include Ellis or even Anthony Randolph), you can potentially fill a third position for years to come – whether it’s SF or PF or C. And maybe cut money while you do it.
Of course, none of this matters unless the Warriors get the No. 1.