I just talked with a couple of people in the know from the Warriors about why they went with Baylor PF Ekpe Udoh over Georgetown center Greg Monroe. I tried to ask all of the questions I’ve seen, and get the answers that weren’t prepared for the press conference.
For the record, I don’t agree or disagree with any of these answers. My opinion is once DeMarcus Cousins went No. 5, this draft was over. It didn’t really matter, because the Warriors needs are greater than what this draft could provide. It was either a trade, or just grab whoever and move on. That’s what the Warriors did, though many don’t believe they grabbed the best.
Anyway, here are the explanations I received to the questions surrounding their pick:
If you need a center, why not get Georgetown center Greg Monroe?
From what I was told, the Warriors liked Monroe. He had some tools they liked. But his negatives gave them pause. He’s not athletic enough. And his game is better suited for the Princeton-style offense he played at Georgetown. The Warriors don’t need a high-post big man. They need a beast inside to get buckets, match-up with an opponents’ inside beast and protect the basket. Monroe wasn’t that. They did say he will be good, though. He just wasn’t the best fit and they didn’t have an interest in waiting for him to develop.
Why Udoh then?
He really impressed at his workout, and no one did anything to supplant him as No. 6 on their board. Not Xavier Henry. Not Paul George. Not Patrick Patterson. One person said it was very clear that Udoh was the best player at that spot. They like his defensive ability, especially because he can guard multiple positions, and he’s got a good enough offensive skillset that they didn’t feel like they were drafting a specialist.
OK, you liked Udoh. But why not trade down and get him later in the draft?
One person I talked to was convinced that Udoh would not have been around later in the draft at 10 or 11. One said Detroit would’ve taken Udoh. Another said he wouldn’t have gotten past Utah, who took Gordon Hayward.
(This is me talking: Riley said he wanted a player in exchange for the No. 6 pick. He didn’t want to just swap No. 6 for, say, No. 11. He wanted No. 11 and a player. He didn’t want No. 11 and a second-round pick. And, obviously, No. 11 and cash didn’t do the trick.)
You said you needed a small forward, why not draft a small forward?
They were not that impressed with the small forwards in the draft, at least not their ability to come in and contribute. The preference is for a veteran small forward, maybe even a beast, who can come in and make a difference. Whichever small forward they would’ve gotten, outside Evan Turner or Wesley Johnson, he would’ve taken a while to get to the point where he could have a key role.
(Me again: Expect the Warriors to make a play for a Rudy Gay or Andre Iguodala. Or even a third-tier SF type, like John Salmons or Rudy Fernandez. UPDATE: After the new owner is identified.)
Why draft another PF when you have two already?
They, simply put, considered Udoh as the best player available and they took the best player. If Monroe was the best player in their mind, they would’ve drafted Monroe, even though that would’ve meant a fourth center (behind Biedrins, Turiaf, Gadzuric). Instead of missing on a guy by filling a need, they wanted to get the best player available in their mind and worry about how it fits later, kind of like Washington did (though on a different level of best player available). And the reality is, one person said, they have to consider all trades because it is their only means for adding a difference maker. So loading up on talent gives you flexibility to be ready to go either way.
Will Udoh even see the floor?
I was told twice he will. Because he plays both ends, he will see some time. No one expects him to beat out Randolph or Wright, but he will cause them to have to be on their game. And one person pointed out, reluctantly, that no one knows how Brandan Wright will be coming back. That is why he is playing in summer league. He hasn’t played since January 2008. This person made it clear that they expect big things from Brandan Wright and that his progress has been good. But it’s not like an insurance policy is a bad idea.
(Riley said at the press conference that he cam see the Warriors using two PFs instead of a true center because of the length.)
Why not trade up and get Cousins?
Nothing was there. They tried, I was told, but the top five teams weren’t budging.
Why didn’t you draft for potential insted of a 23 year old?
“We just don’t need any more projects.” The sense I got was that management is kind of tired of waiting on guys and developing guys. They want some guys who are ready to play. They will be looking to add a couple veterans, a key one in a trade and maybe a vet with the midlevel, to give the team some level of experience. One person said it was important to give Stephen Curry some reliable horses. He can be even better if they get him some playmakers and consistent performers with him.