Not starting with any picks in this year’s draft (the Warriors traded away their 2013 second round pick in the David Lee trade with the New York Knicks), Golden State was one of the most active teams in the NBA Draft.
While most of the Warriors’ NBA Draft attention will be focused on the team’s three first round trades to draft Serbian guard Nemanja Nedovic, it is what the team dodged from the burden of the Williams trade that is more important.
Prior to drafting superstar Stephen Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Warriors made the irrational choice to acquire Williams in exchange for a future first round pick. Thanks to some conditions and lucky scenarios, the Warriors were able to build their young core and end up without a first round pick in arguably the weakest draft class in some time.
After the initial deal, the conditions were amended so that the earliest draft pick the Nets could receive would be in 2012. Through this move, the Warriors were guaranteed to keep their 2011 first round pick. This resulted in the drafting of Klay Thompson.
With these new conditions in place, the Warriors would have to relinquish their 2012 first round pick if it fell out of the top seven slots. In a solid draft class featuring the likes of Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard, lacking a first round pick, especially in the first full season of head coach Mark Jackson, might have been very damaging.
For once, the Warriors had some good fortunate in the NBA Draft Lottery, as a lucky coin flip with the Toronto Raptors gave them the seventh pick and allowed them to select Harrison Barnes. Seeing how he blossomed throughout the season and especially during the playoffs, the Warriors found another gem that was almost snatched away due to the Williams debacle.
As a playoff team during the 2012-13 season, the Warriors had to give up their draft pick to the Utah Jazz (the Nets traded this conditional pick to the Jazz in the Deron Williams trade). However, since they were not subject to the NBA Draft Lottery that year, the Warriors completed their trade from five years ago by giving up the 21st selection, a far cry from the potential lottery pick they could have lost.
In the end, the Minnesota Timberwolves had the Warriors’ 2013 first round pick and selected Louisville center Gorgui Dieng. While he’s a solid selection, he is nowhere near the value of a player selected earlier in the draft. Since this pick was only protected for the top six, this five-year ordeal turned out to be the best-case situation for the Warriors.
Throughout this journey, there were several moments where this outcome could have become much worse and ultimately change the direction and success of the team in the past few seasons. Instead, the Warriors essentially traded away Dieng for Marcus Williams and did not jeopardize their future, a tradeoff that they’ll gladly take looking back at this five-year burden.
Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/Getty Images
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