Draft pick uncertainty hangs over Warriors

605894.jpg

Draft pick uncertainty hangs over Warriors

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.

Forget 'could' or 'should' -- the NBA Finals 'must' go seven games

Forget 'could' or 'should' -- the NBA Finals 'must' go seven games

This may not sit well with many Warrior fans and their concept of manifest destiny, but the NBA Finals has to go seven games.

Not “could,” or “should,” but “must.” In other words, it should scare the hell out of every basketball fan interested enough to care.

Sure, the joy of wearing a $35 T-shirt that says “Fo, Fo, Fo, Fo” (hat/tip to the estate of Moses Malone) is its own reward. And yes, being to lord your favorite team’s superiority in a convincing victory will make you the smug, obnoxious fan you’ve always wanted to be. And unquestionably not having to take a second trip to Cleveland or a third trip to Oakland is easy on the body as well as the budget.

But the hell with all that. A seventh game is the one true thing that makes being a human being worthwhile, and better still, a seventh game that ends in overtime elevates us all as a species. Even Ottawa Senators fans who watched their team miss out on a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Final in two overtimes Thursday night feel like they got their money’s worth.

And you can’t get a better deal than that.

For the record, this is not a prediction, nor is it attached to a preference for one team over another. I am rooting neither for Warriors nor Cavaliers. I’m rooting for volume. If this is the series everybody thinks it ought to be, then there ought to be so much of it that everyone should feel like they just binge-Thanksgivinged.

Only 19 Finals have gone to a seventh game, and only five in the last 30 years. But given how much discussion has been generated over the last one, in 2016, why would this series not benefit from a reprise?

Besides, until Game 7 a year ago, the series was wildly disjointed and even nonsensical; the margins of victory were 15, 33, 30, 11, 15 and 14. The 2015 series, which the Warriors won in six games, was at least more fascinating game to game (margins of 8, 2, 5, 21, 13 and 8), but the lingering memory and defining nature of those 13 games is Game 7. A weird series turned into an excellent one because Game 7 cures all other evils – a broken date, a broken heart, a broken femur, a broken computer just as you’re ready to hit “send.” All of it.

So that’s what this needs – especially after all the time the two fan bases have been asked to watch their teams sit idle because of the lack of games. Twenty-one total days between series for each team has worn even the most tortured narratives thin, and the only way the league can make it up to them is to provide a seventh game.

And when we say “provide,” we mean it in that totally-above-board, non-game-fixing way.

So should the Warriors hammer the Cavs with their superior firepower and depth and defense, while it may satisfy you, it will only serve to mark a disappointing end to what has been a disappointing postseason. And should the Cavs do the same with their superior James and Irving and Thompson, the reaction will be the same. The winners get a parade and a ring, and everyone else feels slightly jobbed.

So let the drama begin, and let it linger. You haven’t got anything better to do anyway. The Bay Area baseball teams are struggling as a daily work condition, the Indians have the second worst home record in baseball, the Browns and 49ers are horrific and the Raiders are looking to leave. Plus, we’ve got the Kings.

So with all due acknowledgement to whatever your petty needs might be, this must go seven games. In fact, it should be like the 1957 Finals between Boston and St. Louis, in which the Celtics beat the Hawks, 125-123 in double overtime for their first championship in what became North America’s most enduring sports dynasty.

After all, most games we call “epic” aren’t, but if this new rivalry is to be the equal of all those others, the way is clear, and it won’t be done by in-game pundits or off-day analytics. It will be done in Oakland June 18 – after midnight on the East Coast, just make sure everyone across the land is pot-committed to the game.

Anything short of that will feel like a bit ordering a steak and getting a sandwich. You get to eat. You just won’t remember it as readily.

LeBron doesn't want to discuss Warriors yet: 'They cause a lot of stress'

LeBron doesn't want to discuss Warriors yet: 'They cause a lot of stress'

On Thursday night, the Cavs beat the Celtics 135-102 to punch a ticket to their third straight NBA Finals.

LeBron James racked up 35 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals in 35 minutes.

After the win, he was asked about the challenge of facing the Warriors.

"I'm gonna be honest -- I'm not in the right mind to even talk about Golden State," LeBron told reporters. "It's too stressful and I'm not stressed right now. I'm very happy about our accomplishment ... they've been the best team in our league the last three years and then they added an MVP.

"That's all I can get you right now because I'm happy and I don't want to be stressed."

On Christmas Day, the Cavs erased a 14-point fourth quarter deficit and Kyrie Irving hit the game-winner with 3.4 seconds remaining.

On MLK Day, Golden State jumped on the Cavs early -- leading 37-22 at the end of the first quarter and 78-49 at the half -- en route to a 126-91 victory.

For the first time in NBA history, the same two teams are facing off in the Finals for the third straight year.

Cleveland boasts a postsesaon record of 12-1.

Golden State is the only team ever to enter the Finals with a record of 12-0.

"They cause a lot of stress," LeBron added. "And I'll get to that point when we start to prepare for them."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller