Mo Harkless, the freshman small forward out of St. John’s, said it doesn’t matter to him where he’s drafted. Unfortunately for him, it probably matters to the Warriors.
Even though Golden State may like Harkless, their best-player-available mantra all but rules him out at No. 7. The Warriors could still get him if they want. They could trade down to snatch him up late in the lottery. They could use the No. 30 pick and their second-rounders (Nos 35 and 52) to get a pick in the middle of the round.
“I can bring a lot of energy,” Harkless said Saturday from the Warriors’ downtown Oakland facility. “A guy who plays hard, rebounds and can score in a lot of ways.”
Physically, Harkless is the prototype small forward, a position the Warriors have plans to address this offseason. He’s 6-foot-9, 208 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s a legit athlete, who scouts say runs the floor like a guard.
His physical attributes coupled with his current skills leave some in Warriors’ camp to believe Harkless, if he played another year at St. John’s, could have been a top-five pick in next year’s draft.
For Warriors’ fans, Harkless’ most enticing trait is his rebounding. He averaged 8.6 for St. John’slast season – and he did it while playing power forward for the undermanned and undersized Red Storm.
“It showed (my) toughness,” Harkless said. “Guys were 60 pounds heavier than me, and a few inches taller.”
But one word has kept Harkless’ name from being mentioned among the lottery: raw.
Harkless is just 19 years old. Though he had a standout freshman season for St. John’s, many question whether it will translate to the next level. He’s got some tools: solid mechanics on his shot, defensive tenacity and an ability to get to the rim. But he’s also lacking some of the tools needed to play small forward in the NBA, such as an ability to create offense for others and his inconsistent jumper.
Plus, Harkless has some competition. A couple other freshmen small forwards, Washington’s Terrence Ross and Baylor’s Quincy Miller, could make more sense for the Warriors than Harkless.
Harkless’ stock has climbed lately, but Ross is still widely viewed as the higher pick, and Miller, who worked out for the Warriors, has a similarly high ceiling thanks to his great size (6-10, 219 pounds) and guard-like skills. The Warriors would seemingly get better value by taking Ross at No. 7 or hoping Miller, Michigan State’s Draymond Green or Vanderbilt’s Jeffrey Taylor fall to the Warriors at No 30 – if they want to draft a small forward in the first round.
Harkless was supposed to match-up with Ross at Sunday’s workout. But Ross, who recently worked out against Harkless in Portland, pulled out of Golden State’s final scheduled workout, robbing Harkless of a chance to perhaps show up Ross and win over the Warriors.
Still, if Golden State really loves Harkness, it could still get him. However, it figures to take some maneuvering as No. 7 seems too high for him, even with his rapidly rising stock.