The Golden State Warriors made waves around the NBA last season by striking the perfect balance between serving their veteran core/title aspirations and building for the future by developing a cadre of talented youngsters. Or, at the least, that’s the narrative that has been floating around the hoops blogosphere.
In truth, the up-and-comers were left with precious little to do when it mattered most. Only Jordan Poole — then a third-year pro and the oldest player of the lot — contributed to the team’s title victory in a meaningful way.
Still, there’s no doubting that the future looks bright for defending-champion Golden State.
Lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody definitely got some opportunities during the regular season. Kuminga, in particular, exhibited All-Star potential over the back-third of the schedule, averaging 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per outing while posting 54/35/72 shooting splits in his final 31 games.
Having said that, one has to wonder whether the team’s latest first-round draft selection — 19-year-old sharpshooter Patrick Baldwin Jr. — will be given a similar chance to shine, or even play at all, by the team. In speaking with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney, a league executive weighed in on Baldwin’s situation.
West Exec: Baldwin May Get More Minutes Than One Might Expect
Given Baldwin’s dearth of experience against higher competition — he was limited to just 11 collegiate games under his father at Milwaukee due to injury — some would say that the Warriors view him solely as a long-term project. Contrastingly, though, the aforementioned West exec expects that the baller will play some this season.
The exec also backed the team’s ability to bring its younger guys along while simultaneously being all-in on winning.
“There’s two things the Warriors do very well away from the court, something the rest of us have been trying to copy for eight years now, and that is manage veteran players’ bodies and develop young guys. And really, those two things go together,” the exec told Deveney.
“They will play Baldwin for a few games in December or whatever, let him get comfortable on an NBA court and see what he can do, give him some confidence, then pull back. You invent an ankle injury for Draymond, let him get some rest, let Baldwin play a few games and it works out for everyone.”
Baldwin Was a True Find for the Warriors
During his brief run with the Panthers, the 6-foot-9 Baldwin averaged 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and a combined 1.6 blocks+steals per contest. However, he connected on just 34.4% of his shot attempts and 26.6% of his triples — numbers that don’t exactly scream “NBA-ready shooter.”
Nevertheless, the exec made it clear that decision-makers around the Association are raving about his selection.
“I can tell you, everyone thinks they got a steal in the NBA draft. But they really do think so with this kid — and with the Rollins kid in the second round — and with their track record, you tend to believe them more than other teams,” the exec said.
“Baldwin was a Top 10-type who was in a bad situation last year, that is a prototypical steal. He did not show what he can do. And he is a coach’s son, so I think they have confidence in him between the ears, and it’s all about between the ears in these cases.”