Draft pick uncertainty hangs over Warriors

Draft pick uncertainty hangs over Warriors
January 19, 2012, 8:53 pm
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The Golden State Warriors are 5-9 and just about a quarterof the way through this 66-game season. They are currently tied with Phoenixfor the 12th-best record in the Western Conference.Yes, there is plenty of time remaining in the season, but atthe same time, there has been little to suggest that the Warriors are headed tothe postseason.The reality is unless something changes significantly the most important date for the Warriors and their fans will be May 30. Thatswhen the NBA will hold its draft lottery.And thats when the Warriors will likely find out whethertheyll get to keep their 2012 draft pick or not.
In short, the Warriors 2012 first-round pick will go to theUtah Jazz if it winds up being the No. 8 pick or worse. If the Warriors get apick in the top-seven of the draft, they get to keep it.If that happens, and they do get to keep the pick, the Warriorswill be in the same spot in 2013 possibly losing a No. 8 pick or worse. Andif nothing happens next season, theyll be in the same spot in 2014, only thepick will be top-six protected.Thats the case because of the Marcus Williams trade backin 2008, when the Warriors acquired the New Jersey Nets point guard for afuture first-round pick. New Jersey subsequently moved the pick toUtah.The Warriors are currently the ninth-worst team in the NBA,which would project to them losingtheir first-round pick. Making all this tougher to swallow for the Warriors isthat the 2012 draft is expected to be among the best in recent years becausemany of the best college players chose to stay in school this pastseason.If the Warriors keep going at the same pace record-wise,this issue will loom, because for Warriors fans it would really stink to not begood enough to make the playoffs but then also not have a real good draft pickin a year in which the draft is really, really good.Some fans out there believe the Warriors should go intototal rebuild mode immediately, which would likely mean the Warriors end upwith a very bad record but most likely get to keep their pick.To get there, the Warriors could do some very logical things rest Stephen Curry and his injured ankle for most or all of the rest of theseason; trade either Monta Ellis or David Lee in moves that yield future draftpicks and a better cap situation but less immediate talent; play Klay Thompson,Ekpe Udoh and perhaps even Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler more minutes,acknowledging a possible short-term loss for a quicker read and maybe long-termgain.But there are others that want this team to win and win nowbecause the franchise has missed the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years andthats only going to change with winning and now.They think this team is playoff-close and if they get there,then adding the right piece or two takes you another step toward thetop.However the season ends up for the Warriors, its going toplay a big part in how what happens with their future.