It's unheard of that a team would reach five consecutive NBA Finals - winning three titles - and find themselves with a top pick in the NBA Draft just one season removed from that success, but that is the case with this year's Golden State Warriors.
All-Star guard Klay Thompson had suffered a torn ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals, almost immediately being deemed out for the entire next season. With two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant moving on to the Brooklyn Nets, a lot of weight was placed on the shoulders of two-time MVP Stephen Curry to uphold the Warriors dynasty while his wingman got healthy. Curry himself suffered a variety of injuries throughout the year, appearing in just five games as the rest of Golden State's roster compiled a 15-50 record, the worst in the NBA.
With Curry and Thompson each making full recoveries, parlayed with trading for Andrew Wiggins at the trade deadline and earning the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, the Warriors are now in line to make another push as a championship contender.
In a draft that doesn't have a clear-cut player to be selected No. 1, never mind No. 2, it bodes the question: should the Warriors trade their pick to try and acquire assets to help them win now? Or should they hold on to the pick to try and develop a young, talented player for the future?
Two members of our NBA.com staff Kyle Irving and Benyam Kidané make a case for each side of the argument.
The case for keeping the pick
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm a firm believer that the Warriors should keep the pick.
Take a look at the three players pictured above: Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green. That core has helped Golden State win three NBA titles. How'd they all end up with the Warriors in the first place? The draft.
The Warriors took a chance on Curry with the No. 7 pick back in 2009, passing on a handful of other established players from Power 5 conferences to select the talented, yet undersized player from mid-major Davidson College that was heavily scrutinized in projections as an NBA player. Two years later they selected Thompson, which at the time was questioned because they seemed to already have their backcourt mapped out with Curry and Monta Ellis, who was coming off of back-to-back seasons averaging over 24.0 points per game. The very next season they struck gold on Green in the second round with the No. 35 overall pick, going much earlier than projected for a four-year, undersized 6-foot-6 forward that struggled to shoot, and that was prior to the league's enamour for playing smaller - which started with Golden State's innovation with Green.
The point being: this team has had plenty of success in finding talented players in the draft. You could even add last year's second-round find Eric Paschall - who finished First Team All-Rookie - to that list.
MORE: Fawcett: Mock Draft 2.0
As a franchise that clearly has a knack for developing talent with a group of leaders like the aforementioned trio and a head coach in Steve Kerr to put the young prospect in a position to be successful, I don't see why the Warriors would trade the No. 2 pick.
Unless they're moving back because they believe that the player they want at No. 2 will still be available wherever they move to (which is highly unlikely unless they're just moving back one or two spots) I think they should make the pick and trust themselves to find the right player.
Whether it's a secondary playmaker like Deni Avdija, an athletic centre that can run the floor like James Wiseman or a guard that could add instant offence off the bench like Anthony Edwards, I believe Golden State would get the most out of any prospect they select and turn them into a piece that could boost their chances to make a push next season.
The case for trading the pick
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): The Warriors are in win-now mode, so I think they should trade the pick and acquire a player that can make an impact in the playoffs from the jump.
There's plenty of talent at the top of the draft, but among the elite prospects, only James Wiseman really stands out as a fit for the Warriors at centre, with the likes of LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards likely resigned to a bench role behind Curry and Thompson.
MORE: Player comparisons for Ball, Edwards and other top prospects
That's not to say one of the perimeter prospects isn't going to turn into a great player, but that will likely be in 3-4 years time. Time the Warriors don't have.
Curry is 32 years old while Thompson and Green are both 30, meaning any prospect that does flourish into a great player will come with their core into their mid-30s. After their poor year last season, the Warriors have a golden ticket to get themselves not only back into contention, but rival the Western Conference's top teams by adding a fourth star.
The conventional wisdom suggests packaging Andrew Wiggins and his $29 million salary with the No. 2 pick to acquire a fourth star. Rumours have suggested making a run at Giannis Antetokoumpo or Joel Embiid, which I don't think is going to happen for that value, but a deal for a player like Jrue Holiday, Aaron Gordon or Bradley Beal doesn't seem out of reach.
The Warriors also have a $17.2 million trade exception via the Andre Iguodala deal to the Memphis Grizzlies last season, which they could use to fill out their roster and provide some added punch to the bench, as well as a $6 million mid-level exception.
If recent years have shown us anything it's that title windows can slam shut as quick as they open and for the Warriors, maximizing the prime years of their core group has to be the priority. Team owner Joe Lacob has shown he's not afraid to spend money if they're contending for titles, so I say push the chips into the middle of the table and go for it.
Father Time waits for no man.
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