Warriors 2020 Draft Pick Tournament: The Top 16 Prospects Plus 4

Let's learn about the leading contenders for the Warriors Top 5 draft pick

The Warriors will have a Top 5 draft pick, so it’s time to start learning about the leading candidates for the pick. So we’re going to have a tournament that you vote on, with prospect scouting reports and video highlights.


The 2020 Draft

Warriors fans will be heavily invested in the NBA Draft for the first time since the 2012 NBA Draft which netted Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green. That draft had all sorts of hijinks including:

  • questionable will to win down the stretch

  • a thrilling lose-by-goaltending game, which put GSW in a tie with Toronto for the 7th spot

  • which was important because GSW had stupidly traded a Top 7 protected pick in a dreadful trade

  • so a coin flip would decide if the Warriors would keep their pick

  • which the Warriors won (in what passed for thrills in those days along with updates on Steph Curry’s ankle)

  • culminating in the drafts of Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green

Now the Warriors are back in the lottery! And the lottery has been scheduled!

Small update:

The weird thing is that the lottery order doesn’t matter as much as you’d think. No one loves any particular prospect, so having a #5 pick might be as good as getting #1. Maybe better, because you don’t have to pay the rookie as much.

It’s still early times, but in many ways that also doesn’t matter because we’re not going to have any more basketball to judge the draftees. Which means, let’s vote on who we want GSW to select with their draft pick.

Selecting Sixteen Possible Draft Picks

I’ve created a list of 16 potential targets in the following way. First, I compiled a number of expert Draft Rankings.

Then I did some complicated analysis looking at average and variance of rankings, which I ultimately decided to replace with something simpler.

Here are all the players who were rated in the Top 10 by every analyst.

  • Anthony Edwards

  • LaMelo Ball

  • James Wiseman

  • Killian Hayes

  • Obi Toppin

  • Onyeka Okongwu

  • Tyrese Haliburton

Then, I also threw in every player who was rated in the Top 10 by somebody.

  • Isaac Okoro

  • Deni Avdija

  • Devin Vassell

  • Cole Anthony

  • Aaron Nesmith

  • Kira Lewis Jr.

  • RJ Hampton

  • Tyrell Terry

That gives us 15 players. I then checked out the great GSW Reddit list of GSW media reports, and here are other players that GSW reportedly has draft interest in.

  • Saddiq Bey

  • Théo Maledon

  • Jaden McDaniels

  • Vernon Carey Jr.

McDaniels has had maturity issues and sounds like the kind of prospect the Warriors avoid. Carey was listed on only 4 of the 7 mock drafts we looked at, so he’s unlikely to jump into the Top 5.

Bey has the highest composite ranking on my combined list of Draft Ratings, so I am putting him in the tournament.

The Tournament and Bracket Seedings

I am going to set them up against each other in a single-elimination tournament, seeded by average ranking. I will give scouting reports and allow you to vote on who advances.

  1. Anthony Edwards

  2. Lamelo Ball

  3. Killian Hayes

  4. Obi Toppin

  5. James Wiseman

  6. Onyeka Okongwu

  7. Isaac Okoro

  8. Tyrese Haliburton

  9. Deni Avdija

  10. Devin Vassell

  11. Cole Anthony

  12. Aaron Nesmith

  13. Saddiq Bey

  14. Kira Lewis Jr.

  15. R.J. Hampton

  16. Tyrell Terry

Okay, Round 1 matchups will be coming out in the next couple of days. See you soon!


First Round Results

I listed the final weighted vote percentages (LGW comment votes = 10 Twitter votes), but also put a * next to the winner of the LGW comment vote

My personal ballot goes:

  • Edwards, reluctantly, over Terry

  • LaMelo, very reluctantly, over Hampton

  • Hayes, lukewarm, over Lewis

  • Toppin over Bey

  • Nesmith over Wiseman

  • Okongwu over Anthony

  • Vassell over Okoro

  • Haliburton over Avdija

Second Round Matchups

I wrote: I can definitely imagine some upsets are coming… and LGW came through, powering an upset in every single match.

My personal ballot goes:

  • Haliburton over Edwards. Edwards could be the next Oladipo, but Oladipo look a long time to become Dipo and Steph isn’t getting younger. The Haliburton dream is that his flaws (not explosive creator) aren’t relevant in Kerrball.

  • Vassell over Ball. I’m really not sold on Ball and he’s not a great fit for the Steph/Klay/Dray contender window. I’m not that excited about Vassell… GSW could use a 3-and-D type, though.

  • Okongwu over Hayes. I can’t get excited about the Hayes video from a weak basketball league. The Okongwu dream is to contribute right away as a sixth man defending big, and grow like a Siakam or Adebayo.

  • Toppin over Wiseman. Wiseman has essentially no track record past high school, and his high school play wasn’t impressive. Toppin looks to be a skilled attacking big and maybe his defensive issues can be cleaned up.

    And it feels like there are Damian Joneses out there (athletic tall and still learning the game) for not so much $. Toppin is looking like at least an ok big on offense, possibly excellent, and the Q becomes how bad will the defense stay? 

    Assuming his D stays poor, I checked out the ESPN RPM for Centers and PFs with + ORPM and - DRPM:

    • Boban

    • Kyle O’Quinn

    • Thomas Bryant

    • Jaxson Hayes

    • KAT (!!!)

    • Blake Griffin

    • Kyle Kuzma

    • Kelly Olynyk

    • Kevin Love

    • James Johnson

    • Jaren Jackson

    • Michael Porter Jr

    So, these are mostly significant contributors, though challenging to build a top flight contender around.

Semifinals Matchups

The bracket is in a shambles. But LGW Nation has spoken loud and clear against the consensus Top 4 picks (Edwards, Ball, Hayes and Toppin).

The Finals

This is it! The Finals and the end of a journey we started about a month ago. You might find it a bit suspicious that my favorite two prospects in the draft should just happen to be the finalists. Well, you can follow the seeding and voting process from start to finish and see that these two are really the collective favorites of LGW and Twitter and there have been plenty of times that the voters have disagreed with my votes. But in the end, we have the two prospects most likely to contribute right away in the NBA.

Haliburton ended up edging Wiseman in an absurdly close contest, coming down to a single Twitter vote. 

Tyrese Haliburton just seems like the most Warriors player in the draft, with his high character, shooting, defensive effort and smart playmaking, and his weakness of poor shot creation seems less urgent in Kerr’s motion O and with Steph Curry passing to you. This season revealed that without Steph and Klay Thompson, the Warriors were the worst shooting team in the league, so Dub Nation is pining for players who can hit an open shot. 

James Wiseman is the most famous mystery big now, with essentially no college track record. His physical dimensions (7’ 1”, 7’ 6” wingspan, 240 lbs) and mobility have people comparing him to David Robinson. He flashes some skills with a jumper and post game, but it’s raw enough that multiple scouts are begging him on offense to embrace the JaVale McGee life of being a rim-running dunk machine and not a Pau Gasol finesse life, at least early. 

The voters judged Okongwu and Vassell as both likely to contribute right away, but if you have to choose, go with the big defender. 

Onyeka Okongwu is a defensive dynamo and an athletic big finisher. His offensive shot creation game is raw, but he seems easy to slot into the Kerrball we’re familiar with, in the JaVale McGee slot. If he can pass off the short roll reasonably, then he’s going to fit right in on offense. Then on D, he’ll give Kerr the option of guarding PNR with smart drop defense and switching when needed. The Warriors Five Year Run was founded on defense, and the team could use some plus defenders.

Lots of people are salivating over Devin Vassell joining GSW, since he looks like an NBA-ready 3-and-D wing. In particular, he brings ready catch-and-shoot skills, which would fit in well in a classic Kerrball scheme which already is based on the elite off-ball movement of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Vassell also lacks shot creation, but he’s 6’ 7” with a 6’ 10” wingspan and a smart defender on-ball and rotating to help.

And so, we have the finals: #8 Tyrese Haliburton vs #6 Onyeka Okongwu. 

And here are the final results and wrap-up:


The Dark Horse Bonus Round

As more draft analysis and reporting gets updated, a few other candidates have come up that didn’t make the Top 16, so after the Tournament is done, we are going to have a Bonus Round, a kind of NIT for four long-shot candidates for the Top 5 that didn’t make it into the Tournament, but who are getting enough buzz that we should also scout them.

Here are the results:

  • Patrick Williams (38.4%)

  • Precious Achiuwa (25.6%)

  • Tyrese Maxey (23.3%)

  • Aleksej Pokusevski (12.8%)

Here are the scouting reports: