Six draft-eligible prospects for the Warriors to consider originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO – With Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II in free agency next month, subtracting perhaps 20-25% from the rotation that won the NBA Finals, the Warriors will spend the next few weeks looking for talent with similar skills. .
It might need a big man who can defend on the perimeter and bounce through traffic, like Looney did, as well as a guard/wing who can bother ball carriers, like Looney did. Payton says.
It is unfair to expect seamless and immediate adjustments, because similar is not identical to identical. There will be a learning curve, and it could be steep.
The first phase of finding those players comes Thursday, when general manager Bob Myers and his trusted lieutenants chat and text around the league in the hours leading up to, during and after the NBA Draft.
Draft-eligible players generally fall into one of five categories. There are those with star potential, those with start-up potential, those with rotational possibility, those with an identifiable skill, and those that are projects ripe for development.
The Warriors, with the No. 28 overall pick in the first round and then the No. 51 and 55 picks in the second round, are limited to prospects in the final three categories.
“You would like to be able to identify maybe one, maybe two things that you think translate to the NBA level,” Myers said Wednesday. “If you can’t find one, it’s usually not great. Sometimes it’s athletics, so it’s not — I guess you could call it a skill. Sometimes it’s the size. Sometimes it pulls. Sometimes it passes.
Even if Golden State makes all three picks — the trade chatter is loud, consistent, and logical — don’t expect to see three rookie draft picks in training camp in September.
Although Looney and Payton are wanted, there are no guarantees. So here are six players – three in the Looney slot, three in the Payton slot – worthy of consideration with Golden State’s three picks:
Big Men’s Functional Swing
EJ Liddell (Ohio State)
After three seasons at Ohio State, he’s fundamentally solid and ready for the NBA, especially on defense. He choked out Duke’s Paolo Banchero, a lock to get into the top three. Mature at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds, Eric Paschall thinks, but with a 7-foot wingspan suited to small-ball center. Excellent rebounder, good at the post and nuanced in the ways of playing. Expected to go in the 25-45 range, Liddell turns 22 in December – making him three months older than James Wiseman.
Amadou Sow (UC Santa Barbara)
Off the assembly line at Pacific Prep Academy in Napa — and a former member of the AAU soldiers from Oakland — Sow’s physical measurements (6-foot-9, 235 pounds) mirror Looney’s. Originally from Mali, he played football before switching to hoops. As a senior center with the Gauchos, he averaged 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds and was effective in their movement offense. He is, at 23, less than three years younger than Looney. Raw around the edges, he’s projected as a late second-round pick.
Trevion Williams (Purdue)
With two youngsters over the edge – Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman – already on the roster, it might be wise to grab a big-bodied center forward who plays basketball the old-fashioned way. At 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Williams has a good feel for the game and is a Chicago tough. He’s not flashy, but after starting as a sophomore and junior, he accepted the sixth man role as a senior and was named the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. He turns 22 in September and is projected as a second-round pick.
Versatile and boring guards
Keon Ellis (Alabama)
He’s a combo guard with a decent jump shot but poor grip and confusing decision making. He started all 33 games for the Crimson Tide largely because he’s a great athlete and elite defenseman. At 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds with a wingspan of 6-foot-8, Ellis is shaping up to be a type 3 and D available in the second round. Old-school comp: Former Lakers star Michael Cooper. New School Comp: Poor man’s Mikal Bridges. Ellis is 22, old for a rookie, but not a negative for this list.
Trevor Keels (Duke)
A muscular 6-foot-4, 220-pounder with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, he can play bully ball on either end. His offense mostly comes from rim workouts. His best defensive attribute is the ability to keep 1-4. He is relentless and likes to force turnovers. The most common roster is Oklahoma City Thunder winger Lu Dort. The downside, so to speak, is that Keels is a unique prospect who won’t turn 19 until August. He plans to be selected in the 25-45 bracket.
He’s an average athlete who compensates by using his smarts and 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame to effectively protect all three perimeter positions. He loves defense. He’s a pure playmaker who will find open teammates but won’t hurt his team with turnovers. He has some similarities to former warrior Patrick McCaw but with a more robust physique. His selfless, ball-moving style suits Golden State. College student in four years at 22, he plans to be selected in the 40-55 bracket.
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