The Golden State Warriors may have missed the playoffs for the second-consecutive season after falling in the Play-In Tournament, but I don't think there is anyone who would argue against the franchise acting in "win-now" mode.
With the core trio of Stephen Curry (33) Klay Thompson (31) and Draymond Green (31) all over 30 years old, and the franchise three years removed from its dynastic run from 2015 to 2018, the window is closing slowly but surely to add more Larry O'Briens to the trophy case.
It's been a tough go for the Warriors over the past two seasons, who have been without All-Star guard Thompson after he tore his left ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, only to tear his right Achilles just before the start of last season.
As a result, Golden State has found itself in recently unfamiliar territory, selecting in the lottery in the past two NBA Drafts.
In 2020, the Warriors had the No. 2 overall pick. Instead of trying to trade it for established assets to fit alongside Curry and Green, they selected a 19-year-old center in James Wiseman, who, on paper, fits a positional need.
It's not that Wiseman was bad during his injury-riddled rookie season - he had some promising flashes in 39 games, averaging 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks - the Warriors just found out very quickly how hard it is for rookies to truly impact winning. Wiseman missed a chunk of games in February due to a sprained wrist on his dominant hand, then suffered a torn meniscus in April that shut him down for the remainder of the season.
When Golden State missed the playoffs, it guaranteed it another lottery pick in this year's draft. But because of the trade that sent D'Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins and a top-three protected 2021 first-round pick, the Warriors also owned the rights to the Timberwolves' selection should it fall outside of that range.
When Minnesota's pick dropped to No. 7 the night of the NBA Draft Lottery, the Warriors now had two lottery picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
What is a team with championship aspirations going to do with two more rookies on their roster?
The widespread expectation was that the Warriors would try and trade at least one of the two picks to try and acquire a player who can fit their win-now timeline. When they were on the clock with the No. 7 pick, the player who fell into their lap was too good to pass up on.
With the seventh pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select... Jonathan Kuminga from Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the NBA's G League Ignite.
To put it plainly: Kuminga landing with the Warriors at seven was the steal of the draft.
But that would surely mean they would try and move No. 14 now, right? Not when another player who fell beyond their projected value dropped right into their lap as well.
With the fourteenth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select... Moses Moody from the University of Arkansas.
The Warriors may have raised some eyebrows by making both picks, but I would argue it made them the biggest winners of draft night based on the players they landed.
Kuminga was once viewed as a sure-fire top-five talent but after an up-and-down season with the Ignite, his value took a slide. Despite having an NBA body that you would create in a lab - 6-foot-8, 210 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan - the attention was drawn to his raw offensive skills, iffy shot selection and a tendency to lose focus on the defensive end.
I looked at Kuminga's one G League season as a player who was pressing to prove himself offensively, taking uncharacteristic shots and forcing the issue to try and show the advancements he has made on that end of the floor. Attempting more shots per game than the prolific scoring No. 2 pick Jalen Green is not the type of player that Kuminga will be at the next level.
Falling to Golden State will be the best thing for the 18-year-old's career. He'll become a two-way star there. He can make an immediate impact as a versatile lockdown defender, where, being mentored by a former Defensive Player of the Year in Green, falling asleep on that side of the ball will not be an option. Defence will be his ticket to playing time as a rookie, while his offensive skill set can slowly develop, learning under three masterminds in Curry, Thompson and head coach Steve Kerr.
As for Moody, he's the type of 3-and-D, NBA-ready player the win-now Warriors need. At 6-foot-6 with a lengthy 7-foot-1 wingspan, he can defend multiple positions. He is one of the best shooters in his draft class, comfortable knocking down shots on the catch or off the dribble. He has NBA range and will only help in spacing the floor for the offensive assets Golden State already has in place.
Both rookies have already made their impact felt in two Summer League games so far. Although it's just a preseason exhibition, it has been encouraging to see how poised they both already look.
Moses & Jonathan made their #NBASummer debuts last night in Sacramento 📽️ pic.twitter.com/Wy55jLzQ3z- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) August 5, 2021
It's understandable to look at the Warriors drafting two teenagers as a negative given the age of their core stars, but adding Kuminga and Moody to build a trio with the 20-year-old Wiseman gives Golden State three players who can contribute certain skills to help the team win now, while also providing the franchise with some long-term hope beyond the careers of Curry, Thompson and Green.
Golden State lucked into years of success in the future because of the two players who fell to them in the 2021 NBA Draft.
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