NBA rumors: Warriors 'highly active' in trade talks with No. 7 pick

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NBC Sports Bay Area 22 July, 2021 - 12:02pm 9 views

When is the NBA Draft 2021?

The 2021 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, July 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. NBA CA2021 NBA Draft: Key prospects to know in the mid- to late-lottery range

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NBA Draft: How does Jonathan Kuminga fit with the Warriors?

Blue Man Hoop 22 July, 2021 - 12:02pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Jonathan Kuminga #0 of the G League Ignite drives to the basket on Ignas Brazdeikis #17 of the Westchester Kicks during a G-League game at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

(Photo by Thomas URBAIN / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS URBAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

I will admit I was biased towards Kuminga before I even knew who he was. Players in his mold have always enticed me even if they have high bust factors.

Guys with legit ballhandling skills and strength at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan are incredibly rare. Having a year of strong development under former NBA coach Brian Shaw really helped bring his game along in some respects.

A prospect full of defensive and offensive tools, he’d be a top-five lock in most drafts.

But the talent at the top may push him down in range of No. 7. The No. 1 overall pick is widely expected to be Cade Cunningham. Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green are expected to round out the top four. Barnes and Kuminga may be the next two off the board.

Is Kuminga worth it for the Warriors to take the risk?

Let another team trade up for Kuminga perhaps. Or simply pass?

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Warriors want a ready-made player at No. 7, but will one be available? - San Francisco

San Francisco Chronicle 22 July, 2021 - 12:02pm

During pre-draft interviews, Warriors executives have made one thing clear to prospects: Whoever the team selects in the lottery will be expected to contribute next season.

This should come as no big surprise considering that Golden State is eager to maximize what’s left of Stephen Curry’s prime. But in next Thursday’s draft that boasts five — perhaps six — elite prospects, the Warriors face a conundrum with the seventh and 14th picks: How do they balance a win-now mentality with a desire to build for the future?

Their pre-draft interview edicts aside, the Warriors still want to follow the Spurs’ blueprint for long-term relevance. This means stockpiling young players who can help lead the team into a new era once Curry (age 33), Draymond Green (31) and Klay Thompson (31) decline in production or retire.

Golden State’s two most notable young players — James Wiseman (20) and Jordan Poole (22) — are promising, but they have yet to prove they can be the face of the post-Curry Warriors. Odds are that general manager Bob Myers won’t have a better opportunity than next week’s draft to select someone capable of being groomed for such a role. If all goes as planned, the Warriors don’t figure to be lottery-bound anytime soon.

But given ownership’s desire to rebound from two playoff-less seasons and vault back into title contention, Myers recognizes that he must take someone at No. 7 who’s well-equipped to help immediately. The Warriors have perhaps only seven players — Curry, Green, Thompson, Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney and Juan Toscano-Anderson — under contract for 2021-22 whom they’d feel comfortable playing in the postseason.

If Golden State gets a ready-made prospect at No. 7 who projects as a top-eight rotation player next season, it could use its No. 14 pick on more of a high-risk, high-upside gamble. The question, however, is whether there will be anyone available at seven whom the Warriors can bank on playing 20-plus minutes a night.

Baylor’s Davion Mitchell — a defensive-oriented guard with a championship pedigree — is the popular pick at No. 7 on mock drafts, but even he comes with risk. Many scouts worry that he’s too predictable and too streaky to become an offensive factor in the NBA. Then there’s the fact that Mitchell turns 23 in September, which doesn’t bode well for his chances of making good on a mid-lottery selection.

Recent history suggests that prospects who are 22 or older face long odds of becoming difference-makers at the next level. Many front offices would rather take an 18- or 19-year-old in the lottery because, even if he struggles early, at least he has a chance to blossom into something special long-term. A worst-case scenario for the Warriors would be taking Mitchell at seven, only to watch him labor as a rookie and defeat the whole purpose of Golden State drafting him.

The more prudent move might be picking someone with a solid mix of upside who is NBA-ready. Players who could fit that mold include Connecticut guard James Bouknight, Arkansas guard Moses Moody and Australian guard Josh Giddey. All three are between 18 and 20 years old, with at least one NBA-caliber skill and a ceiling ranging from reliable starter to perennial All-Star.

It’s also worth wondering whether the Warriors might be best off picking the most talented player at No. 7. Most front offices tend to take a best-prospect-available approach to the lottery, and the reason is simple: Finding a franchise cornerstone is much trickier than getting a helpful rotation player.

However, the Warriors are unlikely to go the high-upside route — not just because of their stated desire to win now, but because they don’t necessarily want a repeat of Wiseman’s rookie season. It’s well-chronicled that head coach Steve Kerr had a tough time balancing Wiseman’s development with a need to help Curry and Green.

Lottery picks bring considerable hype, and it’s often a major story line when they aren’t ready to contribute as a rookie. Wiseman’s issues adapting to the speed and physicality of the NBA last season dominated news coverage and caused plenty of internal conversations about how he should be used.

With Curry turning 34 in March, the Warriors can’t afford to spend much more time figuring out how to utilize young players. That’s why the front office is making its intentions with the No. 7 pick known to potential selections now: no long-term projects, please.

Connor Letourneau covers the Warriors for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: cletourneau@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Con_Chron

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