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NBA Draft 28th pick profiles: Kessler, Hardy, Eason, Procida, Kamagate, Dieng
[Draft predictions coming tomorrow!]
Preamble by Poor Man’s Commish: After two years of NBA Lottery picks, the Golden State Warriors are back to their familiar spot —at least in the past decade — in the late first round. This year’s 28th pick brings a lot of mystery especially with the championship blueprint already set with the best of both worlds, a proven formula of “win-now” and “develop for the future,” all at the same time. One thing we do know with Bob Myers taking the podium today at Chase Center (notes & quotes will be posted on this website later) for the annual pre-Draft interview: money won’t be a factor:
The fact that the No. 28 pick becomes a solidified roster slot on the team’s salary cap table, effectively wiping away a veteran’s minimum spot and incurring luxury tax on the rookie scale contract upwards to 3x, won’t be consequential, per Myers, who must be echoing a go-ahead from Joe Lacob. What I find more interesting are the questions after the pick is made: if it’s a center, does this mean the team is wary of James Wiseman’s return? If it’s a player who just played in Europe, do the Warriors do a draft-and-stash? Or will he spend 2022-23 mostly in G League due to the depth chart at his position? If it’s a point guard, does this mean the strategy of using one of the two-way contracts as Stephen Curry’s regular season backup gets altered this year (job well done, Chris Chiozza)? If the pick isn’t traded, does this mean one of the free agents won’t be back — or will Andre Iguodala retire? We didn’t have these types of roster-impacting questions when we drafted Jordan Poole at No. 28 in 2019. The following are draft profiles of guys that our resident Draft scout Dulow Twist thinks has a chance to drop to the 28th pick…
WALKER KESSLER (7’1”, 225 lbs, c, Auburn)
Strengths: Elite size and shot blocking timing. Seven-footer with a 7’5” wingspan and a strong body at over 240lbs. Has solid hands. Should be able to help a team on putbacks and lobs. Decent athlete with agility for a big man. Might have potential to guard other positions but will bang against other bigs and takes pride in defending. Shown the ability to slide and is willing to make multiple efforts and be physical.
Weaknesses: Lack of shooting is glaring. Both jumper and free throws are well below NBA level. Shot 56% from the line, making him a “hack a big” candidate and end of game liability. Less than 20% shooter from 3 but the mechanics aren't horrible. Does not have a polished post game. Is not a prolific offensive rebounder that his stature would indicate. As only a center, will provide no value at any other position.
Warriors Fit: Size and shot blocking chops would immediately provide something the team lacks. He plays hard and might also provide a vertical rim threat. Would give Kerr another option to eat center minutes with James Wiseman being the only center on the roster and Kevon Looney entering free agency. His physicality suggests he could be a good screener for Golden State. The Warriors would do well to get a competitive, high level defender at No. 28 if he is on the board.
JADEN HARDY (sg, 6’4”, 200 lbs, G-League Ignite)
Strengths: Bucket-getter with above average one-on-one player. Solid athlete, great body control. Can score on all three levels. Has solid size at 6’4”. Has the makings of a professional scorer, similar to Alec Burks or Anfernee Simons. Showed the ability to get open and easily get his shot off. Hardy has a nice mid-range jumper form and crafty finishes around the rim. Has a good first step and can get to the rim consistently. Defensively, he does try and had some good defensive games, for example, against the Santa Cruz Warriors. Will rebound and jump passing lanes for steals and deflections.
Weaknesses: While the jumper has a nice form, it rarely goes in. He shot only 27% three, but will most likely improve. Ball-stopper and below-average passer. Shot 35% from the field. His shot choices are poor and he easily settles for contested jumpers. His percentages look bad due to him taking high degree-of-difficulty shots. Had defensive issues mainly related to focus, despite his good athleticism.
Warriors Fit: Long-term project with range and can get his own shot off. Bob Myers gambled on a somewhat similar prospect in Jordan Poole and won big. Hardy shows some of those raw tools as did Poole with the handle, a jumper with a nice form, and effort on defense. Guys who can score usually get over-drafted due to their value and the Warriors have shown they can develop guys; Hardy would be worth a non-lottery first round pick. He wouldn't crack the guard rotation with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Poole and Moses Moody already there, but could be a long-term value play.
TARI EASON (sf/pf, 6’8”, 215 lbs, LSU)
Strengths: Really good athlete who has two-way potential. Calling card will be as a defensive match up guy who can switch onto guards and wings. Potential scoring wing with a powerful body. Legit 6’8” with an over-7-foot wingspan and has good playing strength. Really gets after it and competes on the defensive end. Came off the bench at LSU and played lots of small-ball center. Should be able to switch everything and be a good defender as well as a transition threat on offense.
Weaknesses: Not a shooter (only 25% on threes) and has a ways to go before his shot is respected. Does not have a polished post game for a player who mainly played center. Quickness advantages as a 4 or 5 might not convey to NBA level. Also had a ton of turnovers last year; handle is erratic. If he can improve shot and handle, he could be a big wing.
Warriors Fit: Reminds me of Kelly Oubre a bit in that he is a good athlete who is very active and plays hard. Physical and tough player who takes pride in defense. He is a straight-line athlete without much wiggle and also a turnover machine. The Warriors are starving for wing defenders and he projects as a plus-defender, so I could see Steve Kerr liking him. But I have doubts about him fitting into a motion-based offense, as he isn't a natural passer, screener, or shooter.
GABRIELE PROCIDA (sg, 6’7”, 194 lbs, Fortitudo Bologna)
Strengths: 40% three-point shooter and 78% from the line in Italy. Nice size for a wing. Could be a 3&D wing in time with frame and athleticism. Has a nice shooting stroke, form looks repeatable. Shoots off screens and off the dribble. Looks like an NBA athlete. Has an NBA wing’s body and playing strength out of the box. Defensively, he slides his feet well and shows effort. Uses his quickness and length effectively on closeouts. Has lateral quickness and looks to be possibly taller than listed height. Projects as a nice play finisher.
Weaknesses: Passing and ball-handling are a work-in-progress. Doubtful he will develop into a secondary ball-handler or playmaker; only a play finisher at this point. Only played 19 minutes per game in Italy. Wide shoulders, but very thin and will be attacked on the defensive end.
Warriors Fit: Teams always need shooting. Reminds me of a young Bogan Bogdanovic with his movement and shooting ability. Wouldn’t really play on the big squad but could develop in the G League and get experience and weight room time. Could be a nice rotational piece on a good team in a year or two because he has starting potential. The Warriors’ second unit needs shooters and he could eventually be a very good catch-and-shoot guy. Well worth the pick if he is available at #28. Could also be a draft-and-stash player.
ISMAEL KAMAGATE (c, 6’11”, 227 lbs, Paris Basketball)
Strengths: Legit NBA big who is tall and long. Really good athlete at 6’11”, 227 lbs. A “jumping jack” and should be a good scorer close to the rim with good touch at the NBA level. Has solid hands, doesn't bobble many passes. Plays with aggression and tries to dunk everything around the rim. Has the size and skill to be a modern big and the frame to add another twenty pounds of muscle. Has pick-and-pop potential as well as the length and explosion to be a vertical rim threat. 70% from the free throw line is encouraging. Defensively, can block or change shots and close out very quickly due to his athleticism and seems competitive. Has experience as an important role player.
Weaknesses: Not very strong and will get ragdolled by physical NBA centers and power forwards; easy to envision bigs like Steven Adams or Jonas Valanciunas putting him in the basket repeatedly. Is a liability as a ball-handler and passer, but does show flashes of potential with both areas. Do not expect crisp passing to cutters and identifying helped-off teammates yet. Not a shooter at this stag, but has potential and could be decent in time. Only averaged 11 points per game in France and won’t provide much post-up scoring; his post game is highly unrefined.
Warriors Fit: Worthy of the 28th pick. A good athlete. Could be a starting big in the NBA in two to three years. Rim-running and shot-blocking would immediately provide utility. Easy to envision second-unit pick-and-rolls with Poole. Somewhat duplicative to Wiseman; would be a nice insurance policy. Could play the JaVale McGee or Marquese Chriss role on both ends while his skillset and body develops.
OUSMANE DIENG (sf/pf, 6’10”, 216 lbs, New Zealand Breakers)
Strengths: Tall and long player with ideal wing length at 6’10” and seven-foot wingspan. Displays guard skills in that he can handle and pass. Moves very well to open himself up for catch-and-shoot opportunities. Only 19 years old and has good upside if he works at being a professional. Could develop into a secondary ball-handler and playmaker in time. Oozes potential to be a triple-threat; looks natural doing everything on the court. Jumper looks smooth and repeatable. Has some Brandon Ingram type of potential with his abilities with his catch and shoot ability.
Weaknesses: The Frenchman’s shooting splits are bad despite his smooth shooting stroke: only 24% from three and 64% from the line. Jumper has good form, but is inconsistent at this point of his development; might be a liability in the half-court game. Isn't physical and will be manhandled by NBA bigs and big wings. Very raw and will need two or three years of skill and physical development to be a good starter. Isn’t consistently engaged and effort wanes on defense. Does not box out consistently or block shots despite his length.
Warriors Fit: Has major upside swing if he last to No. 28. Could totally flop, as he is a high risk, high reward player. Fits the profile for a big wing, a role the NBA is starving for, however with Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody onboard, would almost never play and essentially be relegated to G League the entire year. Potential will have him picked anywhere from No. 10 to No. 25, so likely out of range unless Myers trades up for him.