Warriors’ lottery slip is no big deal in a year without a Kareem or LeBron
This isn’t like 1969, when the first pick in the NBA draft was Lew Alcindor, who soon would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the second pick was Neal Walk.
This isn’t even like the 1985 draft lottery, when the Warriors had the worst record and voila — was that card bent? — the Knicks drew the chance to select No. 1, who was Patrick Ewing. The Dubs got one of their franchise players, Chris Mullin, although no titles.
This is a draft that's not arriving until October in this pandemic-botched sports year when there’s no Abdul-Jabbar or Michael Jordan or LeBron James.
No certain No. 1, so if the Warriors are going to slip from the first spot to second behind Minnesota, as they did Thursday in this 2020 lottery, what’s the problem?
You know that the experts, the people who watch college hoops, particularly Jay Bilas, or those who specialize in the pro game, have favorites. Narrow favorites, the same names that have been tossed around since winter, if in a different order: James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.
We kept hearing early on that the Warriors, as all teams, thought that Wiseman, a freshman at Memphis so skilled the only people who could stop him were NCAA officials, was the ace. Then came word that Edwards, at Georgia, would fit perfectly with Steph Curry.
Well, if you’re choosing No. 2, one of them will be available, as will LaMelo Ball, yet another member of that vexing Ball family. LaMelo spent a few minutes at UCLA, where his brother was a star, then at the urging of his pest of a father went to Lithuania and then Australia.
The baggage LaMelo comes with after all that traveling may be literal. A suitcase and a duffel bag.
There's no question that all three of those guys can play, but how well would they play for a Warriors team hoping to jump off Curry and a finally healed Klay Thompson and back into the playoffs?
Thus, ESPN points out, the Warriors would prefer to trade that No. 2 pick for a veteran who knows the game and no less importantly knows how to win.
Curry was Zooming for the Democratic convention Thursday night — he, the kids and Ayesha telling us to get out and vote for Joe Biden. Good to see Steph again, but Dubs partisans, no matter their political leanings, would have preferred to see him in one of those games at Disney World.
For the Warriors, the sequence of events over the last 14 months borders on the unreal. They lose Thompson and Kevin Durant on injuries. They lose the finals to Toronto. They lose Durant to the Brooklyn Nets. They lose the No. 1 lottery pick. And they lose out in getting back into the game, forced to sit by until — ye gods — December.
Curry, of course, incurred a broken left non-shooting hand back in October, so when the 2019-20 season really began in the days of normalcy the cause was hopeless. Then in March, COVID-19, basketball in summer and who knows what in winter?
Other than Bob Myers as general manager, the Warriors will return, if not to the top then close enough to keep our interest. Until the lottery, you almost forgot the Warriors were in the NBA. Almost.
The Lakers, Clippers and other teams are playing down at Disney World and will have our attention for weeks. The possibility of reviving the Warriors — with Steph, Klay and Draymond Green, how bad could they be? — will preoccupy Myers.
He and the other GMs are a bit uncomfortable picking draftees who, because of the virus, they are unable to scout in person, only by video. Yet he knows what he wants and what the Warriors need. His track record isn’t bad.