Warriors Draw Strong Reactions for Taking ‘Biggest Mystery’ of Draft

Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Getty Patrick Baldwin Jr. runs the court in a game against Florida.

The Golden State Warriors made a significant investment into their “two-timeline” strategy on Thursday, grabbing one of the most polarizing players of the draft’s first round.

Despite rumors that the Warriors would trade away their pick, they held onto the No. 28 overall selection and grabbed University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee big man Patrick Baldwin Jr. A former top 10 recruit in high school, Baldwin turned down an offer from Duke to play for his father’s program in Milwaukee. He appeared in only 11 games as a freshman after suffering a series of injuries, and his draft stock fell as a result, leading to questions about whether he could return to the potential he showed in high school.

Some saw the pick as a good fit, especially given owner Joe Lacob’s goal of creating two coinciding timelines — a team built around a core of older veterans alongside a group of young players brimming with potential. The Warriors would not have to rush Baldwin’s development, as there is little room in the rotation anyway. But others criticized the pick, noting the potential for a bust given Baldwin’s struggles in his only season of college basketball.

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Reactions to Warriors Pick

Given the question marks that surrounded Baldwin after his one season in Milwaukee, many analysts found it difficult to grade the pick. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports called Baldwin the “biggest mystery of the ’22 draft,” noting that his freshman year was a “catastrophe.”

Baldwin averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in his 11 games. Though Baldwin was known as a strong shooter coming into college, he connected on just 26.6% of his 3-pointers. He also trailed off as the season went on, scoring fewer than 10 points in four of his last five games.

Some scouts also worried about Baldwin, with one telling Fox Sports that he needs the right situation to be able to bounce back.

“It was admirable what Patrick tried to do this past year, playing for his dad at Milwaukee, but it completely backfired in the worst possible way,” the scout said. “His combine testing was egregious. His case is that of a guy who has to land in the right spot in the back of the first round.  I still think there is ‘big forward who can shoot’ potential and the hope is that he develops into a player like Ryan Anderson.”

Good Fit in Golden State

Some believe that the Warriors could be that destination. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pick, Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area noted that the Warriors have the right approach to squeeze the potential out of the 6-foot-9 wing. He noted that before the draft, Warriors general manager Bob Myers spoke about the team’s ability to bring along their young players.

“You know, having to build out an infrastructure to work with 19-year-olds is something that we just assumed would happen before, 19-, 20-year-olds, but we do a much better job now of surrounding some of these players with help, with guidance that we should have done a better job of back then,” Myers said.

If the pick works out, the Warriors could have a group of young players poised to pick up the mantle when Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green retire. Third-year guard Jordan Poole already had his breakout season and rookie Jonathan Kuminga flashed his raw athleticism, and the team still has hopes that center James Wiseman will move beyond his injury and rise to the potential of his No. 2 overall pick. If Baldwin can become a contributor in this group, the second timeline could get a major boost.

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