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In October, it made sense.
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson was out until spring time if not the entire season.
Stephen Curry had a broken hand.
Half of the Warriors All-Star contingent was going to miss most of the 2019-2020 season. If there was ever a time to tank, this was the time.
But then came a three-game winning streak punctuated by a Christmas Day victory over the Houston Rockets that pulled Golden State to within 6.5 games of a playoff berth.
And now this from The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie: “This is not a normal top of the draft. To help put some things into perspective, I also asked a few people where they thought these players would be taken within the context of the last three drafts. Across the board, evaluators said that none of Wiseman, Edwards, Ball or Anthony would have been taken over Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, or Jayson Tatum. A couple said that they’re in the same ballpark as R.J. Barrett, but most felt more confident with the Knicks’ rookie.”
Part of a piece published Thursday morning titled “What I’m hearing after spending time with NBA execs in Vegas” goes into great depth on who the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft might end up being according to NBA execs at the G League showcase in Sin City over the weekend. Vecenie offered up one of the strongest rebuttals to the Warriors going full nose dive on this year’s campaign.
“What that says is the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft is likely to be treated from a value standpoint as more similar to a top-five pick as opposed to something that will be franchise-altering,” he writes. “That’s not to say that none of the aforementioned players can’t reach a high ceiling and make all-star games. The reason they’re at the top of the draft as opposed to other players likely to enter the 2020 selection process is that they’re seen as high-upside players. Rather, there is just much more concern over downside at the top of the draft than normal.”
The Warriors currently have the third worst record in the NBA, with one more win than the New York Knicks, and two more than the Atlanta Hawks, who have lost eight in a row.
There was relatively wide consensus that — in spite of GM Joe Lacob’s comments to the contrary — the Warriors would tank the rest of the season, in hopes of using a high draft pick to help create some sort of super team that would make them the favorites heading into next season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Jay Williams said as much on air following news of Curry’s broken hand.
“This is a team that’s going to be in the lottery and probably deep in the lottery,” Wojnarowski said on air in October. “They’ll keep that pick this year and they’ll have a chance to get really high in the lottery and maybe get an impact player and try to come back next year with Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and that core.”
“This could be a scenario like 1997 with the Spurs when David Robinson went down and all of a sudden they had the No. 1 pick with Tim Duncan,” Williams added. “I think this is projecting for them to be the favorites going into next season.”
Without a Tim Duncan-type No. 1 (or really anything even close), and the Warriors winning (accidentally or otherwise), could the tank be off?
Golden State looks to make it four wins in a row on Friday when it hosts the Phoenix Suns at Chase Center. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Grant Marek is the Editorial Director at SFGATE. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @grant_marek
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Warriors-NBA-draft-lottery-pick-tank-14933064.php.