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Dieter Kurtenbach: Here's who the Warriors should draft with pick No. 52

Dieter Kurtenbach, Bay Area News Group on

Published in Basketball

The first moves a new general manager makes are always informative.

Bob Myers’ first moves as the Warriors’ general manager, for instance, were to draft Draymond Green and sign Steph Curry to a four-year, faith-based contract that would provide the capital to build the greatest basketball team in modern times. A few months before he landed that role, he spearheaded the trade that sent Monta Ellis to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut.

In hindsight, it was brilliant stuff.

We don’t have a decade-plus of success and context to judge Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr., who is approaching a year on the job.

But we can easily recall his first big moves on the job. First, he drafted Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, then, a few days later, he traded Jordan Poole to the Wizards for Chris Paul.

These were “win-now” moves. The Warriors didn’t end up doing that.

A big reason why was their lack of shooting.

Yes, Curry made nearly five 3-pointers per game, and Klay Thompson three and a half per contest, but after the two greatest 3-point shooters of all time, the well ran rather dry.

Andrew Wiggins and Paul spent long stretches of the season not stretching the floor. Podziemski could chip in one or two a game, but he was hardly an obvious threat.

In fact, the Warriors greatly required Green — backpack and all — to be a floor-spacer this season. (He stunningly shot 39.5% overall, but only 12.8% in second halves.)

Dunleavy was right to trade Poole, even with Paul likely to be waived or traded this summer.

But the fact is that the Dubs never replaced Poole’s shooting ability, particularly off the bounce.

It’s still something this team desperately needs.

The Dubs’ issue is that players who can move off the ball, catch-and-shoot, put the ball on the floor, and knock down shots at all three levels are impossible for them to sign in free agency — they’re too expensive.

But what I told you the Warriors could select one with pick No. 52 in the upcoming NBA Draft?

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When you’re drafting as late as the Warriors, it’s not about finding an all-around player. Those prospects (if there are any in this draft) are off the board.

No, the only question that should be asked is “What can this kid do?”

And Kentucky wing Antonio Reeves can score with the best players in this draft class.

I’m betting he can immediately score, in bunches, at the NBA level, too.

 

The narrative around Reeves ahead of the draft is about what he cannot do. He’s not giving you much, if anything on defense. He’s also 24 years old, making him a less appealing prospect to teams looking for growth.

Good. The negatives are the only reason Reeves is possibly available to the Warriors at No. 52.

What a coup it would be for Golden State to draft him. Reeves scored 20 points per game in the SEC on 50% shooting from the floor and 43% from beyond the arc on nearly six attempts a game.

This guy doesn’t just score, he does it efficiently.

Spotting up, off the catch, on handoffs, in transition, on drives, and in transition, he’s good for more than a point per possession across the board, per Synergy. Elite stuff.

He’s an intuitive mover off the ball — someone custom-made for the Warriors’ motion offense. And he has positive length at 6-foot-6 and a 6-foot-8 wingspan — he’s not going to struggle with NBA size.

I think he makes smart decisions with the ball in his hands, too. He’s not someone you want running your offense, but he’s anything but a ball hog — he has a knack for making the right pass, the simple pass, amid the chaos of motion on the perimeter.

Add it up, and you have a player who can be a Malik Monk type for a Warriors team that needs one.

Or, perhaps, a Poole replacement.

———

The Warriors are at a strange crossroads this offseason.

Perhaps they’ll move for a clear-cut No. 2. I’m still in for a Dejounte Murray trade.

Or maybe this team will try to ride out what they already have, bringing back Thompson but dumping Paul.

But no matter what route they take, the mandate is the same: win, now.

And to do that, they could sure use someone who can come off the bench and get some buckets.

Reeves is that kind of player.

The Warriors were right to jettison Poole, a microwave scorer. That was a cultural issue. (See: Punch, The.)

They were wrong to not replace him.

Drafting Reeves at No. 52 could right that wrong.


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