Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green... The Golden State Warriors squad of today is full of good and smart draft choices that turned into quality players. You can tell that alot has to do with the change of the GM and the owner. Since then, the Warriors are known as a victorious, unselfish organization from head to toe as of today. Yet in the past they have shown more than often questionable efforts when it comes to scouting and drafting the right player.
Or did you hear about guys like Ike Diogu or Joe Smith by any chance?
As one might think, this column is going to focus on the best and worst first round draft picks the Warriors have made in the past as well as in the present.
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15 BEST - Robert Parish
Mostly known as a Celtics player, Robert Parish was originally drafted by the Golden State Warriors and used to play there for four seasons from 1976 until 1980. However, the Warriors were already in decline after their Championship run in the 74-75 season. That's why they missed the Playoffs completely during Parish's tenure and decided to trade him to the Celtics where he rose to one of the best Centers in the NBA and went on to win three NBA titles with Bird and McHale as his companions. Of course, he wasn't the most victorious Warriors first round pick but they did a great job in drafting him even though it did not work out with him and the Dubs. That was mostly due to the fact that the Warriors front office was very impatient at that time and could not or would not want to wait until he reached his potential.
14 WORST - Ekpe Udoh
Definitely not the best choice the Warriors have made in the past. They were hoping for a real shotblocker that would make their whole defense better since the Dubs used to have one of the worst defenses in the NBA and were allowing an atrocious 112.4 points per game in the season prior to Udoh's arrival. But of course he could never fulfill the dreams and hopes of many Warriors fans and the front office. Even though he has a crazy wingspan of 7'4 and was one of the best shotblockers in college, he never reached his full potential and could never get used to the faster style of play in the NBA and the general talent level. That's why he is going down at best as a rather solid role player. But picking him at the number 6 spot was definitely not the best idea, especially when there were players available like Greg Monroe, Paul George or Gordon Hayward, just to name a few.
13 BEST - Jason Richardson
The Warriors drafted Richardson with the number five pick in the 2001 NBA draft. He was one of the most iconic and beloved players ever in Warriors history. That was on the one hand due to his outstanding ability to dunk the ball which helped him igniting the crowd and get them hyped up. On the other hand he was the team captain and mostly the reason why the Warriors broke their streak of 13 consecutive seasons without a postseason appearance and upset the Mavs, which held the number one seed back in '06. He then stayed one more year and went on to the Charlotte Bobcats. For sure, he was one of the better picks the Dubs have made especially in this rather weak draft class of 2001, famous as the draft in which Kwame Brown got picked with the first overall pick.
12 WORST - Anthony Randolph
After a very disappointing 07-08 season for the Dubs where they again missed the postseason, many looked forward as to whom they would pick. His name was Anthony Randolph, a player who again could not nearly fulfill his potential. Many saw in this hybrid of Power Forward and Center huge potential thanks to his versatility. Others said that his work ethic and character were not the best and could be a problem rather sooner than later - and they were right. Randolph had many good aspects in his game but just was not able to bring anything productive onto the court, mostly because of his character. The Warriors picked him however "only" at the 14th spot and he just spent three years there so it was by far not the worst pick the Warriors have made over the years.
11 BEST - Harrison Barnes
Mostly known for his finals performance during the 15-16 season, in which the Dubs blew a 3-1 series lead, Barnes' performance could go down as one of the worst in the finals and was definitely a reason as to why the Warriors lost to the Cavs. That does however absolutely not justify his quality as a player and his good performances over the years, which also helped the Warriors in breaking the single season record in wins achieved and creating an absolutely historic season.
Right from the beginning, Barnes fit into this Warriors squad beautifully, as a person as well as a player because he almost always did the right thing, whether it was shooting the corner three, passing it to the open man or setting the screen for Curry or Thompson. He was a very solid player for the Dubs, with his defense helping them a lot of times. Getting him with the number 7th pick in the 2012 NBA draft was surely one of the best choices the Warriors could have made over those last years.
10 WORST - Mike Dunleavy
Honestly, it's not like it was the worst draft choice ever, but picking him at number 3 was surely not the best idea. At this spot, your player should undoubtedly be more productive and better than Mike Dunleavy was for the Warriors. In his playing time there he was just an average player and could never be the great scorer the Warriors thought they had been drafting. Even more confusing than all these facts is that the organization decided to give him a contract extension worth $44 million through five years. When your best season with the Dubs comes down to 13.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 2.6 APG, maybe you're not worth the contract extension...
9 BEST - Mitch Richmond
How can anyone make a list of good Warriors draft choices and not name the Run-TMC group. The first guy is the "M" - Mitch Richmond, who was the number 5th selection and a very good choice. Together with Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, he built the Run-TMC group which was a play of words regarding the famous hip-hop group Run-DMC and a very fitting name considering their run and gun play style which was also very successful and beautiful to watch since everyone in this group matched the other one flawlessly in the way they played the game. Richmond was known as being a slasher and excellent finisher around the rim but could also shoot which lead to his percentages of around 49% from the field as well as 36% from beyond the arc while averaging almost 23 points per game. You can tell that the organization did a good job in drafting him and building an own fun culture of playing the game while inventing the Run-TMC group.
8 WORST - Patrick O'Bryant
You might ask, "Who in the world is Patrick O'Bryant?" And that question is absolutely justified. The truth is, he was just another center the Warriors had picked over the years when they used to be bad as just another attempt to improve the terrible defense they had back then. And, again, no surprise as O'Bryant could not fill that hole. He was picked 9th in the 2006 Draft and was highly regarded back then, until he broke his leg and could not play and eventually took to the court just very sparingly during his rookie season. Going by the fact that he is mostly known as the first lottery pick who was sent to the D-league, the Dubs did not make a good job in picking him even though one has to admit that this Draft was one of the weakest in NBA history.
7 BEST - Chris Mullin
Although he wasn't very successful as a GM for the Warriors, Chris Mullin was one heck of a player. Picked at the number 5 spot, Mullin was a great shooter fitting to the slashing style of Richmond and the great passing of Tim Hardaway. The uptempo style of play helped him a lot in getting open looks from beyond the arc as well as from the midrange. That's why he spent almost every season with the Dubs and just left them for three seasons during his 16-year career. Still, he averaged a strong 20 points per game with the Warriors but his peak did not last long enough to go down as one of the best, unfortunately. Nonetheless, he was a great choice and has undoubtedly earned his place on this list.
6 WORST - Ike Diogu
Wow, I don't even know what to say about this gem right here. One year prior to drafting the other bust Patrick O'Bryant in 2005, the Warriors selected Diogu with the 9th overall pick. And, very surprisingly, it was a Center. By now you should know why they were drafting a Center (defence, baby!). While averaging 7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, he failed to impress the team after his rookie season and was traded to the Indiana Pacers. Overall, this was just another huge mistake by the Warriors's GM Chris Mullin and Owner Chris Cohan. At least they cut their losses early, as Diogu averaged 6 PPG, 3.1 RBG and 0.3 APG during his career. Talk about a major bust!
5 BEST - Tim Hardaway
Now, we're coming closer to the edge: the final member of the up-tempo group Run-TMC.
Tim Hardaway was a superb choice and the best member of this trio, while he was leading the team on the fast break and always setting up Richmond for the easy layup, dunk or Mullin for the open shot. Apart from his outstanding passing abilities, he was a great scorer and was always there when the Warriors needed him the most. He averaged almost 27 points, 13 assists and 4 steals against the Lakers in the second round of the 90-91s playoffs, for example. Though the Dubs fell short thanks to an experienced Lakers team lead by the great Magic Johnson, he still was a great player for the Warriors even though he could never bring home a Championship. But he brought them unforgettable memories and achieved a lot of records that last until today. Picking him at the number 14 spot was an absolute steal.
4 WORST - Todd Fuller
Another drafted Center, another failure. You already know the rest. Picked up at the number 11 spot in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Warriors had gained just another bust. And it hurt even more if you know that he was picked ahead of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Peja Stojaković & Jermaine O'Neal - all NBA All Stars and almost all (future) Hall of Famers. Yet Todd Fuller stayed a remarkable three years with the Dubs, just to get traded
from there three times in just two years. Since he was averaging about 4 points per game, you can see that he is just going down as another bust in the books of Golden State Warriors history.
3 BEST - Klay Thompson
Getting closer to the best (and the worst, respectively), one of the so called "Splash Brothers" is making the first appearance in this list. Picked at the number 11 spot in the 2011 NBA Draft, Klay Thompson was a complete steal. Since day one, he showed steady performances and consistent improvement. His jumper as his main weapon did not need to be trained that much to be honest but his ball handling skills as well as his defense have been getting better year after year and helped him to be one of the most versatile players in the whole NBA.
As a huge contributor to the 73 win season last year and getting the first Championship to the Bay after 40 years in the 14-15 season, Thompson was one of the best picks a team could have made with the number 11th spot and there is still a lot to come in the future since he still has not reached his full potential.
2 WORST - Joe Smith
Joe Smith is by far the worst draft choice the Warriors have made with their first round selection. Back in '95, they owned the first overall right to draft a player and picked him.
Very unsurprisingly, he was yet another Power Forward/Center drafted before guys like Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyesse, Rasheed Wallace and even Jerry Stackhouse. Nevertheless, he could never be what the Warriors were hoping for and was traded midway through his third season to the 76ers and his career just went down the river from that moment on. He was then traded 14 times in his career and is now famously known as one of the most traded players in NBA history. That says almost everything about his qualities and the job the Warriors have made in this drafting year.
1 BEST - Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is by far the Warriors' best draft choice in the first round. The now two-time MVP and one time champion with the Warriors, is the complementary piece to Klay Thompson and had the most impact in the Warriors 73-win season and is the primary reason why the Warriors are where they're at right now. There is almost no way possible to shut him down completely since he just does not care if you hunt him down with two guys, three guys or the whole team. Curry is a scoring machine and can make every shot possible on the court.
But let us not forget about his passing abilities and his unselfishness which sets a perfect example for the other members of this Warriors squad. Like with Thompson, there is still a lot to come in the future and with Durant & Green they could be the next real dynasty in the NBA. Joe Lacob and Bob Myers made the best decision possible and selected him with the 7th overall pick. This just shows that you don't necessarily have to tank or lose as much as possible just to get your franchise player. Great coaching and scouting can make up a lot.
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