Why the Warriors should trade down to draft Trayce Jackson-Davis
[+notes from our pre-Draft livestream with @nbadraftnet]
On our livestream two nights ago on Monday, we had Eric Guilleminault of NBADraft.net (link to their mock Draft), which was founded by Aran Smith in 2000, predating by three years even DraftExpress. Both Smith and Guilleminault are actually long-time Golden State Warriors fans from the Bay Area. “Eric G.” has been scouting mostly international players, particularly from France, for Smith since 2006.
The year-by-year accuracy of NBADraft.net’s mock drafts is astounding. In June 2018 at the annual Warriors Draft Night Media Gathering hosted by GSW PR, I even won a pair of JBL headphones by having the most accurate predictions of the first round. My secret? I copied all of NBADraft.net’s mock Draft on my entry form, ha!
So with Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and crew set to make the 19th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, here is a summary of what Eric, my co-host Dean “of Positivity” Chambers and I discussed on the live chat. If you scroll down further past the bullet points from the discussion, there are some closer looks at names that will be mentioned, starting with the most likely picks at 19, such as forward Kris Murray, defensive guard Jaime Jaquez and shooting guard Brandin Podziemski.
And yet someone who actually shouldn’t be drafted at 19 because it’s kind of a high pick to use it on him, power forward-center Trayce Jackson-Davis — heretofore referred to as “TJD” — is our reasoned conclusion (details below) as the Warriors’ ultimate pick.
Meanwhile, Jaquez and Podziemski have popped up on most Draft boards out there. As of this writing, NBADraft.net has Murray as the pick for GSW at 19, but that easily could change for them as Draft Day progresses; maybe I’ll keep tabs below in the Comments section of this article.
Here’s our clickable livestream with all the timestamped topics in this video’s Comments section:
• TLDR: Assuming no Lottery pick drops to 19, the Warriors should trade down to pick TJD, a “ready now” role player rather than for upside. And for all the fans who clamored, “We need a big man,” TJD fulfills that role as a direct backup for Kevon Looney, eerily at the same height and interchangeability as a 4-5. GSW might even make a pick at 19 for another team then do the trade, so keep your eyes peeled tomorrow night (we’ll go live again on YouTube, btw). By trading down, the Dubs can maybe pickup a future second-round pick. This would help save some salary on this year’s pick, which will also save them on luxury tax and repeater penalties, typically a 6x-7x multiple of the salary figure. GSW does not have its first-round pick in 2024, which got traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Andre Iguodala deal way back. Ironically, just last night the Memphis Grizzlies traded that pick to the Boston Celtics in the Kristaps Porzingis/Marcus Smart/Tyus Jones three-team trade involving the Washington Wizards.
• The “ready now” role player types that would compete with Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga for minutes are Jaquez, Ben Sheppard, or Olivier Maxence-Prosper. Guilleminault thinks Murray is more of a 3-4 and therefore unable to directly backup the Warriors’ frontline (see more scouting reports by player, below). We think there is more of a need to backup our 4-5 spots, therefore we are leaning more towards TJD.
• Per Eric G., three or four players cancelled their pre-Draft workouts with Golden State. One of them was Dereck Lively II, whose draft stock has risen the last couple weeks and could go as high as 10th to the Dallas Mavericks. Agents have been pulling their clients from Warriors workouts because of the notion that Steve Kerr will not play young players, as we all saw unfold this past season. The rumblings were already beginning to happen in the high school circuit, months ago.
• Seeing his stock rise into the Lottery, Lively cancelled the June 5th workout at Chase Center and since then, there have not been any pre-Draft workouts announced by Warriors PR — that is, involving potential 19th picks (a workout was held on June 7th among potential second-round or undrafted prospects). In total, three or four agents told Dunleavy “no” on having their players come to Chase. Under Bob Myers a lot of workouts were made public. It was just part of the culture of openness and the experience for young draftees to come to the GSW facility plus address the media in a professional setting. Is Dunleavy more secretive? Did they not want more cancellations to be known? Have times changed now that it’s been established over the past two seasons that veterans mesh with the core better than youngsters? We shall see what the trend is for the Dunleavy era, but we’ll probably have to wait for next summer’s workouts (or lack thereof).
• The rumors about the Warriors moving up in the Draft, typically involving trading JK, don’t make much sense. “I don’t think anybody outside of Victor Wenbanyama can make an impact in the 2024 playoffs,” Eric told me before going onto our livestream. “Amen and Ausar Thompson are just four months younger than Kuminga; they also can’t shoot and last season played run-and-gun basketball at the high school level. Having the ball in your hands when the game does go into half-court mode doesn't work with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor. Either of the Thompson twins may end up better than Kuminga, but it’s going to take them two to three years as well. So trading up to lose experience seems counterintuitive.”
• Expounding on the possibility of trading Kuminga, Guilleminault also said, “Could I see maybe a JaVale McGee and the 10th pick for Kuminga and 19? Absolutely, because McGee knows his role with GSW plus JK might have fallen out of favor with Kerr anyways, and then they possibly draft Lively (although acquiring JaVale would defeat the purpose of drafting Lively). Do I personally think it would be a good choice? No. You already invested two years of time in a talented player in JK who has two-way potential. Last year, because of the championship run and then an off-season injury as well as playing for the Congo, which wasn’t great competition, Kuminga had no summer to work on his game. The last 20 regular season games, he seemed to understand the NBA a lot better. He should be a much better player this season than last.” Incidentally we livestreamed the Congo games last July and those were all a mess akin to any vanilla AAU game, although JK did put up reasonable numbers. And as far as Kuminga’s name being mentioned by DraftExpress, where the rumor originated, you have to go back to Dunleavy on the podium saying he gets tons of calls about his guys. Here’s a clickable repost of that video:
• As far as the bigs available at 19, the list goes like this: Leonard Miller, Noah Clowney and Jackson-Davis. Miller and Clowney, however, are more of the young upside mold. More on them, below.
• On whether or not to trade out of the Draft, Eric G. told me prior to the livestream that 19 is a good pick to have in the 2023 Draft: “If the pick contributes during their rookie contract then it’s worth a lot (see Jordan Poole on his rookie deal). Next year’s Draft doesn’t have any stars, so people say it’s bad, though it’s hard to say what kind of depth it will have. 2025 also is not great in terms of star power. 2026 and ‘27 should be loaded.”
• Finally, if GSW simply picked the so-called “best player available”, Eric today told me that Nick Smith, Jr. has been dropping and, as a former Top-Five-projected pick, he would want the Warriors to pick him at 19. A more detailed scouting report is below, along with others. There’s also an insider-y tidbit for subscribers only at the end of this post.
• On the livechat, Guilleminault mentioned Brice Sensabaugh (who had an injury, but his analytics are really good for shooting), Maxwell Lewis as a darkhorse wing, and Jett Howard, a 6’8” shooting guard who is the son of Juwan Howard. Rayan Rupert, a sentimental favorite of Eric’s as a French player whom he has watched develop over the years, would be slightly too far away on the development timeline to fit in with Golden State.
Below are some (brief) player-by-player scouting reports, nearly word-for-word from the clickable livechat linked above. Obviously more in-depth detail can be had on NBADraft.net or other boards, along with their profiles, which we omit here for the sake of brevity.
Again, be sure to join us for the Draft coverage Thursday night starting at 4:45PM PDT. With Eric G. having responsibilities for the upkeep of the NBADraft.net website, we will have Doc Martin, Draft expert at Babcock Hoops and SportsIllustrated, and we welcome back Reid Ouse and Charlie Torres, Andrew Wiggins’ and Klay’s trainers, respectively, to give their takes and one last look back at the 2022-23 season. We might even have Travis Walton, Draymond’s trainer, on once more as well. It’s become an annual ritual on LGW! Here are the Draft player-by-player notes:
Trayce Jackson-Davis: A 23-year-old senior who averaged a double-double, NBADraft.net founder Aran Smith thinks TJD can shoot (a desirable trait in Kerr’s system) even though he didn't need to shoot in the Big Ten. He averaged more than two blocks per game and has a 7’1” wingspan, standing at 6’9”. All of these attributes make us think he is an immediate stand-in as Looney’s backup. And with most Draft boards pegging TJD near the end of the first round or even in the second round, it behooves Dunleavy to see if he can acquire a future second-round pick by moving down because 19 isn’t needed to get TJD. As TJD is this year’s LetsGoWarriors “erudite” 😉 pick, here is a video report on TJD:
Jordan Hawkins: Currently, Hawkins is listed on TheAthletic’s non-beatwriter mock at 19 by Sam Vecenie, their annual Draft specialist, but most boards have Hawkins taken by 16, with the UConn NCAA tournament star at the edge of the Lottery at 14 on Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo’s board for DraftExpress/ESPN. As such, Hawkins probably will not be there at 19 and has previously been talked about as high as 11. If he’s available at 19, Eric predicts the Warriors will go ahead and select him, as he possibly could take the role of Donte DiVincenzo, assuming DiVincenzo leaves for a lucrative free agent contract elsewhere. What I like about Hawkins is that the Dubs would nab a Lotto-ish pick in a deep Draft for the price of five rookie scale slots lower than advertised. Of course, the downside is that he’s “only” 6-foot-4 and 21 years old, plus needs to fill out his body. However, so-called “elite shooters” who have proven themselves on big stages don’t come along that often and getting one now makes the transition from the Steph-Klay-Dray era into the next one a few years from now a little more seamless. As Vecenie put it:
UConn had him sprint off screening actions, using his pristine shooting mechanics and ability to stop on a dime to get open and can 3s. He averaged 16 points and was a critical piece of the national champion Huskies, keying their perimeter attack with how much teams had to respect his gravitational force. Hawkins also improved a bit off the bounce this past season, becoming an impactful, effective attacker of closeouts … Hawkins would really fit (the Warriors) offense well as a guy who can fly around screens and knock down shots at an elite level.
Leonard Miller: More raw than JK was as a rookie, 7’2” wingspan at 6’10” height, can handle and shoot, but is stiff.
Noah Clowney: Wouldn't play next season, more of an upside pick.
Jalen Hood-Schifino: Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, someone who hears things every now and then, likes him but Eric G. tells us that the only way Hood-Schifino drops is if his back spasms have become a red flag on medical reports. A point guard of his height and size is unlikely to drop. Josh Giddey has been a comp and Hood-Schifino, a smart player, does seem to be a Kerr type of player in the Shaun Livingston mold. He’s a better shooter than “Sdot” was, but not as athletic. You never know, because Michael Porter, Jr. dropped to 14 (due to a back injury) and was supposed to be a Top-3 pick.
Kris Murray: Not as good as his twin, Kris’ shooting numbers went down. He’s a lefty version of brother Keegan Murray, but not quite as athletic or a shooter. Guilleminault thought Kris might be a good fit early on, but determined Murray can’t be a small-ball five, as his block rate is not high enough. Kris is more defensive-minded than Keegan, but did not get the same amount of deflections and is more of a 3-4. Scouts say they’re concerned about his shooting.
Brandin Podziemski: Went from not playing at Illinois to all-conference at Santa Clara and has analytical support, but Eric isn’t sure he can defend well enough for Kerr and he’s kind of on the younger side. As a 6’5” collegiate shooter, can he get off his shot in the NBA and keep attackers in front of him?
Ben Sheppard: Eric tells us there’s rumors Sheppard has a first-round promise and that he helped himself at the Combine. On June 6th, Sheppard did workout with the Warriors and even did a Q&A on the podium at Chase Center with local reporters such as Dalton Johnson and Madeline Kenney. Sheppard may end up being the last first-rounder that had a (publicized) workout with the Warriors, as Lively cancelled his aforementioned June 7th workout.
Jaime Jaquez: A four-year guy, at the 19th pick, Jaquez might be a little high (subscribers will get an insider addendum below). He plays hard on defense, has a nose for the ball, but is definitely a role player — part of the reason UCLA became good again — with not that high of a ceiling. He’s physical and a good rebounder, but is not a great three-point shooter. Anthony Slater picked Jaquez at 19 in The Athletic’s beatwriter mock Draft, so we have to assume Slater has some insider intel. Here’s a quick snapshot of his defensive acumen from Yahoo’s Draft analyst, Krysten Peek:
Rayan Rupert: Was in NBADraft.net’s Top Ten for a long time, with good measurables, although wingspan and vertical leap weren’t spectacular. Rupert is very skinny and started in the finals for his Australian team, but did not shoot the ball well. He is streaky and has a good crossover.
Sidy Cissoko: The top player for the team that had Bilal Coulibaly and Rupert, Cissoko at 6’7” has a suspect jumpshot. He would have been a first-rounder last year, but it seems GMs have been a little tougher on G League Ignite players lately, outside of Scoot Henderson.
SOME TIDBIT BONUS INSIDER INFO IS BELOW THIS LINE
The following is not earth-shaking but does contain some inside info that we were privy to yesterday, that I wanted to share with subscribers only: