Now that the Warriors get to keep the No. 7 pick in the NBAdraft in June, what should they do with it? General manager Bob Myers said theWarriors have some options now and the certainly do.But they also have needs. Here is a look at seven players whocould be available when the Warriors pick at No. 7:Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, small forward:Sentiment seems to be growing that Barnes isnt much of a differencemaker. He can catch and shoot but there are concerns about his ability tohandle the ball, which is an issue for a perimeter player.Nobody is saying Barnes cant or wont turn into a nicerotation player or perhaps even a starter down the line on certain teams. Butnobody out there seems to believe hes a lock to be an All-Star type player.In addition, the Warriors have two small forwards undercontract Richard Jefferson and Dorell Wright and they probably have someinterest in bringing back Brandon Rush andor Dominic McGuire.Andre Drummond, Connecticut, center: Many project Drummond to be gone by the time the Warriors pick at No. 7, but ifhe isnt theyd have to consider him.Drummond is an athletic center with an upside, but he needswork on his skill level and many believe youll have to wait too long for thatupside.Besides, theyre already invested in a young big man, Jeremy Tyler, who has aguarantee next season. And Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins are already eatingup more than 20 million in salary at that spot.If you pick Drummond, youve got about 25 million investedin centers come 2012-13.Perry Jones, Baylor, power forward: He is6-foot-11, long and extremely talented. You also cant have a discussion aboutJones without bringing up the fact that there are serious questions about hismotivation.He had a disappointing sophomore season, but there is nodoubt Jones is talented. While some might consider him a small forward, itseems doubtful he can play there as a pro.He seems destined to be a power forward. If hes there atNo. 7 when the Warriors pick,theyll have to consider him. But picking Jones is more risky than pickingothers at this spot.Terrence Jones, Kentucky, power forward:The nice thing about Jones is that hes a power forward now, hell bea power forward in the NBA and thats the position he wants to play.There is no doubt Jones is a solid player with a skill setthat translates to the NBA. But one legitimate question with Jones is whetherthe Kentucky program made him look better than he was or whether he couldblossom upon leaving there.Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, shooting guard:Lamb is projected as a shooting guard, but the question as itpertains to the Warriors would be this: Can he play any three?The Warriors seem to be locked into Klay Thompson atshooting guard, and so theyll need to find out whether Thompson and Lamboverlap. Lamb is long like Thompson but not as good of a shooter.Lamb does have the potential to be a better defender thanThompson, though.Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, center:Sullinger is very skilled, but he lacks athleticism. Hes one of thebest passing big men in the country, but he doesnt have a lot of lift andplays below the rim.There are questions about whether he can play power forwardin the NBA and also whether he is good enough to be a starting center.Worst-case scenario for Sullinger is he winds up being a backup center for mostof his career.Tyler Zeller, North Carolina, center: Itsvirtually impossible to visualize Myers selecting Zeller with the No. 7 pick.Hes just not sexy enough and there are questions about his upside andathleticism.But he very well could me more of a sure thing thanSullinger, and Zeller will certainly be able to function as a center in theNBA.Whether thats as a starter or reserve remains to beseen.
The private jets have arrived, most of the swank parties are on and the red carpet has been laid. The NBA is set to announce from New York the winners of its individual awards Monday night at 6 p.m. on TNT.
Rapper Drake, a very public fan of the NBA, will serve as the host. Among the presenters are actors Nick Cannon, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jesse Williams, as well as athletes Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. In addition, Nicki Minaj is scheduled as the music guest.
The NBA clearly wants to make a splash in its inaugural show.
Here is our forecast for the six major awards to be presented:
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: Rare combination of defensive skill, offensive tools and superior athleticism. Began the season as a Top-50 player, ended it in Top 15.
Rudy Gobert, Jazz: Still raw offensively, arguably the best rim protector in the NBA made appreciable improvement on defense. He’s what Dwight Howard used to be.
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: Improved enough to be mentioned among best European centers ever to reach the NBA. He’s only 22 and bound to get even better.
Should win: Antetokounmpo.
Will win: Antetokounmpo.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR:
Eric Gordon, Rockets: Improved conditioning and revived his career after offseason trade from Pelicans. He finished No. 2 among NBA bench scorers.
Andre Iguodala, Warriors: WD-40 for whatever the league’s best team needs, whether it’s offense or defense or leadership. Not among the top 15 bench scorers.
Lou Williams, Rockets: Ace shooter split season between woeful Lakers and playoff-bound Rockets. Led all bench scorers in scoring. Plays no defense.
Should win: Iguodala.
Will win: Gordon.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Rudy Gobert, Jazz: See above.
Draymond Green, Warriors: Best team defender in the league, finished second in the balloting the past two seasons. Got better, making several game-saving defensive plays.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Best on-ball defender in the league. Won the award in each of the past two seasons. Defensive numbers dropped a bit this season.
Should win: Green.
Will win: Green.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks: Second-round draft pick evolved to become starting PG on playoff team. Showed respectable two-way ability and the savvy of a veteran.
Joel Embiid, Sixers: Hands down, most impressive rookie in the league and future franchise player. Played only 31 of 82 games, though. Does that constitute a season?
Dario Saric, Sixers: Impressive, multi-skilled forward with a smooth touch and a nice feel for the game. Two-time Rookie of the month. Played 81 games.
Should win: Saric.
Will win: Saric.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Mike D’Antoni, Rockets: Took over a dramatically revamped team, implemented his style and far exceeded reasonable expectations. Co-winner in a vote of coaches.
Gregg Popovich, Spurs: Still the league’s gold standard and once again got the most of his team while simultaneously phasing out the old and installing the new.
Erik Spoelstra, Heat: 30-11 second half among best recoveries in NBA history, pulling bottom-five team into the playoff race until final day. Co-winner in vote of coaches.
Should win: D’Antoni.
Will win: D’Antoni.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
James Harden, Rockets: Officially became PG for the first time and led league in assists while operating a new offense without sacrificing scoring. Improved on defense, from abysmal to almost satisfactory.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Probably the best two-way player in the league moved into leadership role and hardly skipped a beat. Does it all without flash, practically undercover. A treasure.
Russell Westbrook, Thunder: Most scintillating player in the league, constantly in overdrive. Set record for most triple-double in a season, while averaging a triple-double for the season.
Should win: Harden.
Will win: Westbrook.
OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.
“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.
“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).
“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”
This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.
As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.
“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”
Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.
A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.
The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.
All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.