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Could Cougars' Thompson land with Warriors

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By Marcus Thompson II
Contra Costa Times
Published:
Perhaps Golden State Warriors general manager Larry Riley has an idea about what is going to happen with the 10 picks before Golden State's first choice in Thursday's NBA draft.
And it's likely he has a scenario for every possibility. He probably has a wish list of players, too, including one that he hopes falls to Golden State at No. 11.
Riley said he doesn't expect the Warriors' first-round pick to be a factor right away. But the goal is clear.
"To find somebody who can make our roster and eventually be a contributor," Riley said. "Get a rookie that by the end of the season is playing some for us and has some effective role."
For a team in desperate need of depth, for a team looking to emphasize a new style of play, making the right pick is imperative. Golden State is limited in its trade options and doesn't have much flexibility under the salary cap to sign free agents.
Adding to the difficulty is a draft that lacks talent. Only Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams have separated themselves from the pack. Center Enes Kanter, arguably in their class, hasn't played in a year after being ruled ineligible last season at Kentucky.
After that is a group of relatively equal players, all with question marks about their potential.
Depth has been identified by Warriors management as a serious need. And defense is the team's new mantra. Golden State will have to address one of those areas with their first-round pick.
Washington State swingman Klay Thompson, Kansas forward Marcus Morris, Colorado shooting guard Alec Burks and Texas forward Tristan Thompson are options that could potentially address the Warriors' need for bench help. However, they all have limits or flaws that are cause for concern.
Florida State forward Chris Singleton, Congolese center Bismack Biyombo and Kansas forward Markieff Morris figure to be able to address the Warriors' defensive needs.
Riley also said the Warriors can use some toughness.
"We would help ourselves a great deal if we get more physical," Riley said. "It would be difficult to improve (without adding some physicality)."
If Golden State drafts for depth, it can address defense with its limited free agent funds (how limited will be based on the new collective bargaining agreement). If the Warriors go for defense, they can add depth via free agency. But they can't afford to ignore both needs in this draft.
The Warriors can fill those holes via the trade market. But Golden State isn't willing to trade point guard Stephen Curry, the team's hottest commodity. And it doesn't seem willing to trade guard Monta Ellis unless it gets an offer too good to pass up.
Trading center Andris Biedrins, who has at least $27 million left on his contract and is coming off his worst season, is not a viable option right now. Even if the Warriors wanted to trade forward David Lee, that figures to be extremely difficult considering the five years and more than $68 million he is owed.
The Warriors could dangling last year's top draft pick, forward Ekpe Udoh, or swingman Dorell Wright. But neither probably fetches what the Warriors need without Ellis or Curry as part of the package.
The difficulty of making the right trade emphasizes the importance of Thursday's draft. Golden State can't afford another bust such as Ike Diogu or Patrick O'Bryant.
"Often times we go best available player," Riley said. "We're still looking at that. I still like stockpiling talent."
Story tags » Cougars Basketball

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