If the Warriors hold onto their No. 2 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft, it sounds increasingly likely that Memphis center James Wiseman will be their guy, assuming he’s still on the board. However, they reportedly would prefer to trade the selection to acquire a veteran contributor and a lower lottery pick, and that might have something to do with their opinion of a player outside of the consensus top three prospects.
Deni Avdija is the top international prospect in the draft, and there’s been no shortage of rumors linking Golden State to him over the last few months. In delving into the Warriors’ aforementioned desire to move back from the second pick, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau reported Tuesday that their interest in Avdija has only grown.
“If the Warriors move outside the top three picks, they’d likely eye Israeli small forward Deni Avdija, who can guard multiple positions and slide into a secondary-playmaker role,” Letourneau wrote. “According to a league source, Golden State has become ‘infatuated’ with Avdija’s skill level and believes he can develop into a Danilo Gallinari-type.”
In a draft that lacks a consensus top prospect, the Warriors would be elated to come away with a player in Gallinari’s mold. At 6-foot-9, Avdija offers tremendous versatility. He’s big enough to guard multiple positions, but also possesses skills that make him a potential mismatch. He’s a great playmaker, has a good feel for the game and can handle the ball. But while he’s an aggressive scorer, he needs to improve as a shooter, particularly from beyond the arc.
That last part is key if the Warriors truly do view him as a Gallinari-type, as the 6-foot-10 Gallinari is a career 38.0 percent shooter from 3-point land.
Of course, there’s always a possibility that the Warriors do trade back from the second pick, but by the time it is their new selection, Avdija is already off the board. If that’s the case, the Warriors reportedly will pivot to one of a few other prospects.
“If the Warriors trade down and Avdija isn’t available, they’ll probably choose between Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton and Florida State shooting guard Devin Vassell,” Letourneau continued. “Haliburton is a good facilitator who is an efficient enough shooter to play off the ball if needed. Vassell, who shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore last season, projects as a productive ‘3-and-D’ wing at the next level.
“Should the Warriors move to the late lottery, they’d strongly consider Villanova small forward Saddiq Bey — another versatile wing who knocks down 3-pointers at a high clip, makes few mistakes and defends at a high level. But if Golden State doesn’t field a compelling trade offer, it will have no qualms holding onto the No. 2 pick.”
With the draft now less than 24 hours away, the Warriors surely will be quite busy working the phones. It remains to be seen how the lottery will play out, but it certainly can’t hurt to plan for multiple outcomes.