The Warriors had their pick of several players who were expected to go higher. San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard, Kansas combo forward Marcus Morris, and Florida State small forward Chris Singleton.
But the Warriors chose the guy they had on their eye all along: Klay Thompson.
RILEY: “We’ve said before that we like him as a shooter, as an athlete, as a basketball player. He has the NBA skill and he will develop further skills … He has a good pedigree. Comes from a basketball family. This guy will have a good amount of success in the NBA. He has a very good upside. Should be able to play as a rookie and make a contribution to this basketball team.”
Certainly, Thompson figures to bring something to the table. He will immediately help the Warriors on offense because he can shoot. If nothing else, they can put him in the corner and spread the floor for the starting guards, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
They clearly were not deterred by Thompson’s expected defensive struggles, though they’ve been preaching adding defense and physicality all offseason. Leonard, Morris and Singleton all are expected to be better defenders than Thompson. But the others had knocks the Warriors felt were greater.
Morris — who I think was doomed by his tweener status, weak workouts — is pretty good at a few things but not really good at anything in particular. Though I liked him, he admittedly would have been tough to blend in. No definite place to put him.
Singleton is perhaps the defensive stopper they need. But though he is reputed for a nice set shot, they did not like his offense. He is behind on that end of the floor. And, you know, the Warriors already have guys who can’t score well. They don’t think they need any more. I think what really hurt Singleton: Warriors like small forwards who are play makers. He is not.
The guy who, in some ways, fell to them, Leonard had the athleticism and size to play some defense. He also is pretty good in the open court and slashing. But, apparently, they weren’t enamored with him anyway. And he didn’t allow them to become enamored with them by declining to workout with the Warriors.
RILEY: “He was not an option. He was never an option on my list. It’s just probably a difference of opinion with some other people. I felt we needed a guy with an NBA skill.”