Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Saltzman Says...It's all about the draft

The NFL Draft is in April and the NBA Draft and MLB Draft is in June.  Over the course of those three months, the sports landscape will radically change.  How good your team remains or how better your team will get is mostly the result of who you draft.

Because there are no certainties on how a player will do once they are being paid as professionals, it ends up being very hard to be great year in and year out with scouting and drafting.  Even if you select a great player, there is no guarantee of health.

That being said, it is clear that the biggest problem the Warriors have had over the years is through the draft.  Because of so many mistakes in the draft, they have been unable to land the talent in free agency and it has led to 1 playoff trip in 17 seasons. 

Let's take a trip down memory lane:

1993: Warriors draft Anfernee Hardaway, but then trade him and 3 future 1st round picks to land the #1 overall pick, Chris Webber.  At the time, they had an unhealthy Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin and Billy Owens, because they had traded Mitch Richmond two years earlier on draft day.  Had they kept Richmond, they would have still had an amazing backcourt of Hardaway and Richmond, but adding Anfernee Hardaway would have given them a great 3rd guard.  It also would have kept them from losing 3 2st round picks.

1995: The Warriors land the #1 overall pick, but then chicken out and take the "safe pick" in landing Joe Smith.  They should have drafted Rasheed Wallace, who always had more talent than Smith, and could have drafted Kevin Garnett, the young high school phenom.  Nobody had come straight out of high school since Moses Malone back then, and the thought of selecting a high school kid was crazy.  Wallace would have given them what they wanted from Billy Owens, even if it would have been 4 years too late.

1996: With the Warriors needing a point guard as badly as a center, the Warriors could have gone crazy and taken another high school phenom Kobe Bryant.  They went "safe" again and took Todd Fuller.  Never a sadder moment in sports than seeing a scared team be scared once more.  They should have looked in their own backyard and selected the man who a year earlier outplayed Jason Kidd in their arena: Santa Clara's Steve Nash.  He would have been the answer to their point guard issues.

1997: This time is was Adonal Foyle instead of Tracy McGrady.  Three years in a row taking a safe choice instead of a possible phenom.

1998: We had Vince Carter, if only for a moment, before we traded him for Antawn Jamison.  Too bad we didn't hold on to either.

2000: The Warriors didn't have a 1st round pick, but could have drafted sharp shooter Michael Redd had they kept their pick, among others.

2001: They ended up with three 1st round picks, and drafted three very good players, Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, and Gilbert Arenas.  None are still here. 

2002:  Instead of Mike Dunleavy Jr., the Warriors should have taken a chance on his teammate, Carlos Boozer. 

2003: In the best draft in ages, the Warriors drafted Mickael Pietrus, saying he was the best available on the board.  The next pick was David West, and the list goes on from there.

2004: Andris Biedrins had a lot of promise, and that is gone now, but another 18 year old they should have gone after is Josh Smith.  One of the best shot blockers in the game, and not a center, Smith's length would have been a perfect fit for both Nellie's and Smart's systems.

2005: Ike Diogu over Danny Granger.  It just never stopped.

2006: Patrick O'Bryant.  The soft, safe big man just never got old for the Warriors.  They could have selected two excellent defenders in Thabo Sefolosha and Ronnie Brewer.  They could have selected capable point guards in Sergio Rodriguez and Jordan Farmar.  Or they could have selected one of the best point guards in the game in Rajon Rondo.

2007: Pau Gasol has a brother.  His name is Marc.  Why on earth wouldn't you want the brother of Pau Gasol.  They traded Jason Richardson for Brandan Wright.  What a shock.  A soft, safe promising big man.  When will they ever learn?  Then, they drafted Marco Belinelli.  He has turned out to be decent...for another team.  Another shock.  They could have drafted Aaron Brooks too.

2008: Anthony Randolph fell in their laps, and by laps, I mean another soft big man with upside.  The Knicks are looking to trade him now because he isn't living up to his potential.  It never ends!!!  Take Robin Lopez, who was selected with the next pick.  Take Roy Hibbert.  Take J.J. Hickson or Serge Ibaka, who both have upside too, but are workhorses and give maximum effort.  Why is that so hard to get their heads around?

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