Since the Warriors proved to be lucky (or tankalicious) enough to retain their own pick at #7 overall, one way of interpreting the top component of their draft is to do a ranking of what their Top-7 Draft Board should look like.
#1- Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky- Goes without saying.
#2- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF/SG, Kentucky- His defensive intensity and versatility (guarding both swingman positions at a high level) would make him a quality fit next to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry on the perimeter.
#3- Andre Drummond, C/PF, Connecticut- A harder sale than MKG because of his mental makeup, a team with the Warriors’ situation in terms of cap and talent would be better served going for the high-reward player especially since Drummond should be able to play a premium position in the league. The other fascinating component of the Drummond question is that he could end up playing cohesively with both Andrew Bogut and David Lee (separately of course) while also learning from their positive examples. We have no idea what if anything will start his engine but a guy with his gifts makes the risk worthwhile.
#4- Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina- What I love about Barnes’ fit with the Warriors is that his strengths and weaknesses fit very well into what the team should be looking for in a small forward. Barnes should be able to defend his own position well while having some troubles with the smaller, faster players at shooting guard and the bigger, stronger fellas that play power forward. That’s fine for the Warriors since their power forward’s cannot slide down to small forward and the shooting guard position should continue to be an enigma defensively for another year or two as Thompson grows his game. On the offensive side, Barnes can create for others and his ability to hit shots created by others should improve with time and coaching. While not a perfect fit for lots of other teams in the lottery, Barnes makes a ton of sense with what Golden State has committed to in terms of talent.
#5- Bradley Beal, SG, Florida- While not the perfect fit alongside Curry and Thompson (largely because of size and the defensive issues that perimeter trio would create), Beal’s talent and drive should make him a successful NBA player. That alone makes him a worthwhile selection should he fall to #7, unlikely as it may seem.
#6- Austin Rivers, SG, Duke- Why I love Rivers as a possibility for Golden State goes back to something I wrote about Stephen Curry during his rookie season- what makes Curry special for a point guard in the league is that he can play incredibly nicely off the ball when the situation presents itself. Heck, he was the league’s best spot-up shooter in 2010-11! A Curry/Rivers backcourt would certainly have some defensive problems but would be dynamos at creating quality scoring chances for the rest of the team and each other. Furthermore, a reliable scoring presence at shooting guard for a full 48 minutes in the form of Rivers and Klay would give the team added flexibility to have more dedicated rebounders and defenders at the other positions.
#7- Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois- While other players (Thomas Robinson and Jeremy Lamb, to name two) will likely contribute more in the first few years of their NBA careers, Leonard has the toolbox to become a valued contributor at the most important position on the floor. In fact, someone like Meyers would benefit greatly from having an established center like Andrew Bogut in front of him during his formative seasons since it would allow him to keep his minutes down while having a fantastic mentor as he works to refine and develop a more complete center game. On top of that, having a center like Leonard backing up Bogut would give the Warriors a competitive advantage in terms of both depth and pace since his quickness for his size makes Golden State an incredibly dangerous fastbreak squad. While the Bogut acquisition helps the organization because he allows the Warriors to be effective in more half-court games, even a limited Leonard forces opposing teams on their heels for 10-15 minutes per game off the bat.
In terms of the #30 pick, it comes down more to who is available than who fits perfectly in a draft full of complementary players. Some nice fits (if available would be):
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse- See Meyers Leonard above. Having a legitimate back-up center would act as Bogut insurance and an additional quality piece in the ongoing effort to make the Warriors relevant and competitive on the defensive end. Unlikely to be available unless the team trades up.
Royce White, PF, Iowa State- A quality piece because of his ability to do just about everything a team needs on the offensive end while bringing quality rebounding and at least some defensive potential. Every team needs a spark plug on the offensive end on both in their starting lineup and coming off the bench. White could be one of the few to do this from the PF slot without being a top draft pick. Possible but unlikely to be there after a strong combine.
Tony Wroten, PG/SG, Washington- The potential counterpoint for Stephen Curry because of his athleticism and defensive ability. While Wroten’s shooting would be a problem for the Warriors, his defensive talent would allow the coaching staff to be more creative with how the use Steph and Klay defensively. His passing and court vision bring something extra to the table even if the jumper never gets there.
Doron Lamb/John Jenkins, SG, Kentucky/Vanderbilt- The two best shooters outside the lottery, each should have a spot in the league as a rotation player at worst moving forward while being on a nice, cheap rookie contract for a while. Jenkins should be the better overall player and may have risen out of the #30 range while Lamb should be around.
Players the Warriors should look at later in the draft:
Miles Plumlee, C, Duke- Should be a decent enough backup center in the league for a long while.
Kevin Jones, PF, West Virginia- A guy I’m higher on than most because his face-up game should fit well into a backup role as a Power Forward in the league, especially as a floor spacer next to a guy like Bogut.
Scott Machado, PG, Iona- One of those backup PG’s who should make teams better for a long, long time. Could be a fun change of pace PG for the Warriors in the same vein as Meyers Leonard.
Hollis Thompson, SF, Georgetown- A one-dimensional player (three point shooting) and that’s just fine for what he is since he should be able to defend his position well enough to stick in the league. Would be a nice late 2nd if Golden State expects Brandon Rush to be elsewhere in the near future.
William Buford, SG, Ohio State- While not near the quality shooter both John Jenkins and Doron Lamb are, Buford could be an intriguing flyer pick late in the 2nd because of his nice shooting mechanics, passing ability for an off-guard, and ability to defend SG’s.
Yancy Gates, PF, Cincinnati- Worth taking a low-risk shot at since the team can use another developmental big around at no cost.