Warriors May Draft ‘Elite’ Prospect, Use Him as Trade Bait: Insider


Getty Jonathan Kuminga of the G League Ignite and Ignas Brazdeikis of the Westchester Knicks during a G-League game in February.

The Golden State Warriors are reportedly considering using their pair of lottery picks in this week’s NBA draft as trade bait to land an immediate impact player and jump back into title contention with Klay Thompson’s expected return this season. One expert’s mock draft finds a way for them to land that player but still hold onto their top pick.

The Warriors have two picks within the top 15 of Thursday’s draft, including the No. 7 overall that came from the Minnesota Timberwolves through last year’s D’Angelo Russell trade. That, along with the No. 14 pick that the Warriors landed after another season falling short of the playoffs, could be used as part of a package to land a player who is ready to start alongside Thompson and Steph Curry.

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Warriors Snag ‘Elite’ Prospect

There appears to be growing pressure from some of the team’s veteran players to trade the picks. The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II reported that Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green “have made it clear to management they want the franchise to focus on the pursuit of a championship, even to consider using their two lottery picks to get someone who can help immediately.”

In his final mock draft before the draft day, CBS Sports writer Colin Ward-Henninger predicted that the Warriors will actually hold onto their top pick and snag one of the most talented wings in the draft. He penciled in 6-foot-8 small forward Jonathan Kuminga, who could become trade bait for the Warriors in fulfilling the wishes of the veterans.

Golden State is getting pressure from its star players to draft win-now talent, but that all changes if Kuminga is on the board. Now you’re looking at a potentially elite prospect who needs a lot of development, but who could also help push your offer over the top in a potential trade for a superstar down the road. It might not make Warriors fans happy, but you can see the logic of taking the best upside prospect here, which is probably Kuminga, and then taking a player at No. 14 who is more ready to contribute right away.

Warriors Have Decisions to Make

There are others who believe that the Warriors will trade one or both of the picks outright, following along with the wishes of their three veterans and making a more immediate upgrade. That could mean sacrificing more of the future than just their 2021 rookies, as 20-year-old James Wiseman has been included in many of the proposals.

There have been reports that Golden State is interested in Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner, and previous reports suggested that Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is in Golden State’s sights. In his article noting the desire among Warriors veterans to make a trade, The Athletic’s Thompson pegged Beal as one of the most likely targets to jump Golden State back into title contention.

“Should the Warriors go that route, Beal, the Washington Wizards’ guard who made third-team All-NBA, is deemed to be the best player and best fit for the Warriors among the players who could potentially be available this offseason,” Thompson wrote.

READ NEXT: Steph Curry Gets Honest About His Long-Term Future With the Warriors

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