The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery results were revealed Tuesday night, and they came out pretty good for the Golden State Warriors, who, as of now, own the No. 7 and No. 14 pick, joining the Orlando Magic (Nos. 5 and 8) as the only two teams with multiple lottery picks.
The No. 7 pick comes via the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the D’Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins swap. Had that pick fallen in the top three, Minnesota would’ve kept it. The No. 14 pick is Golden State’s after falling short of the postseason.
We note that the Warriors own two lottery picks “as of now” because a lot could change before the July 29 draft. Golden State will be among the most watched teams as they decide whether to keep or trade any variation of those picks. Remember, Golden State also had the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, which they used to select James Wiseman, who is also a trade candidate as the Warriors look to maximize whatever prime years are left of the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson/Draymond Green trio.
So far, the Warriors, from owner Joe Lacob on down, have been adamant they don’t intend to move Wiseman. But what else are they going to say? It was, at the very least, interesting what GM Bob Myers had to say on Tuesday in the wake of the lottery results.
This speaks to not only Wiseman, but whomever the Warriors potentially select with their two 2021 lottery picks. Steve Kerr tried to toe the line of winning and developing Wiseman this past season, and it surely cost the Warriors at least a few wins in the meat of the campaign.
Wiseman was a major negative on the court, which is to be expected of a 19-year-old who played three college games. That’s why rookies need time; but time, as it would seem, is not a luxury the Warriors have if they want to jump back into the title race before Curry ages out.
This makes for a difficult decision. A number of difficult decisions, actually. If Wiseman and two lottery picks, in a deep 2021 class, were to be put on the table, the Warriors could surely drum up a lot of trade interest. They’ll certainly be making and taking a lot of phone calls. If Myers is saying upfront that developing players for the future is not the priority, and we are to take him at his word, then Wiseman and/or whomever the Warriors would potentially select next month would have to be ready to contribute right away, lest they become trade bait.
The Warriors have options here. That’s a good thing. But in a way, it could also be a bad thing. There is no route that offers total clarity. If Wiseman and or some variation of this year’s picks are traded, and the Warriors don’t end up winning or at least strongly contending for another title, it will be a long time — if ever — before they find themselves with three lottery picks over a two-year span, and they will have given up a golden opportunity to build a bridge between this era and the next.
But if they hang onto the youngsters and, absent the veteran talent they could’ve acquired, squander these last few years of Curry’s prime with a team that just isn’t quite good enough, well, let’s just say Wiseman and company better be pretty damn great over the next decade to justify that cost.