Is the Warriors’ approach to the NBA draft crazy, are they trying to be too cute, or is there a method to their madness? For me, this question led to an epiphany as I considered their risky reach, selecting Patrick Baldwin Jr (PBJ) with their first round selection in the 2022 NBA draft. A player almost all mock drafts had going in the second round.
The Warrior’s approach and past misses
As a dyed in the wool, passionate fan of the Golden State Warriors for the last 40 years, when the team selected Jordan Poole in the 2019 draft, I literally threw my remote onto our couch. After drafting Jacob Evans and Alen Smailagic, I thought someone in the draft room was clearly crazy or trying to be cute, again!
Any long-term Dubs fan can tell you that until 2015, the two most exciting days of the year were always the day of the NBA draft lottery and the actual NBA draft. The lottery because the team was so bad for so long, we had a chance to get the number 1 pick almost every year. And the draft itself because that next great player that would turn everything around could possibly drop to our pick. But they never did, though Chris Webber got very close; unfortunately, we know how that turned out. We Dubs fans seemed cursed.
Too cute or just more knowledgeable than other NBA teams?
However, after making it to the finals 6 times in the last 8 years, winning championships in 4 of them, the finals had become the most exciting time of the year for fans. This is very odd to us old timers, but very appreciated. And to my surprise, Jordan Poole is playing a significant role in their success as one of the best young shooting guards in the league!
So, like in 2019, in 2022 I had researched the mock drafts, read articles on sleeper picks, and recorded the draft. Again, I was sitting on my couch watching with great anticipation when with the 28th pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Patrick Baldwin Jr! What???!!! At least I knew who he was, unlike when Jordan Poole was picked. But all the data I had access to indicated he’d go in the second round, as did almost every mock draft I had seen! Not only is he injured a lot, but his combine numbers were historically bad!
My epiphany regarding the Warriors’ management’s decisions, cute or otherwise…
However, my 2022 draft experience was very different, a humbling and somewhat shocking epiphany really. Despite our passion and research, we fans may understand and know a lot, but we can’t know what the full-time team employees know, particularly the talented and successful management team that run the Dubs. Sometimes leaders make decisions they feel are right, even if others don’t see what they see. Unlike the management of say, the New York Knickerbockers, the Dubs management has earned my trust.
I quickly resigned myself to the fact that if management thinks this is the best pick for the team and the risk is worth the reward, then it probably is. If they think he’s a good fit, has enough speed to play in the NBA, or has the most upside, then perhaps there is indeed a method to their madness. And if they are wrong, late first round picks are usually successful only 10% of the time, then they still likely made the best choice. So this time, no remote throwing or exasperated insults towards anybody trying to be cute.
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