Will the Warriors draft picks since Draymond Green make an impact in the second half of the season?
In order to truly build for a long run of contending for a title for years to come, the Warriors will need to build up their 1st and 2nd year pros into players that can contribute early.
Despite having low draft picks due to fantastic playoff runs, they have been able to select some intriguing players in the draft. The Warriors have been able to build a star from the draft and have done so in late rounds as well. Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli (now with the Trailblazers) were surprise standouts from their draft and the Warriors are hoping they struck more gold in Kevon Looney, Pat McCaw, and Damian Jones.
Kevon Looney is currently averaging 8.5 min a game. In that amount of time he has 2.7 points a game. Warriors have seen a mixed bag of results from Kevon Looney. He had a promising start coming off the bench, but has had trouble being consistent. However, he has the tools to be a solid fill-in for Draymond Green. He doesn’t have the range that Green and Iguodala have, but he is a threat in the post. He currently is trending to be a productive role player, but he will not become a potential starter someday.
Damian Jones has seen limited action because of an injury and also lack of exposure to the NBA tempo. He has been called up many times, but has not seen much action in some stretches due to not building a garbage time lead. The Warriors are hoping to have garbage time lead coming into a game with Portland coming up and anticipate Damian Jones seeing playing time. Damian has been consistent in the developmental league, but hasn’t been all too impressive. However, he is starting to grasp the NBA pace and he will need to gain more minutes to excel. Something the Warriors are hoping he is gaining with the latest call up from the Santa Clara Warriors. Overall, this seems to be the player with the second highest upside as he was a rim rattler and protector in college.
Pat McCaw has seen the most minutes out of all the draftees. He started off hungry and very efficient. In Since December, there was a noticeable change in his aggression. He looked as if he was simply going through the motions and didn’t expect to have the ball. When he receives the ball, he has a 4 second assessment of the floor to see if a pass is available, then would pass it back to the top of the key. It also seems as his cuts were lazy and jogged. In the last two games against Thunder and Rockets, there has been a noticeable change in attitude with Pat and his pull up 3 point jumper showcased what many saw in the kid; ability to see the floor and make a playmaking decision. He has fantastic upside and has the potential to be the lead guy on the bench and secure leads while Curry is resting in the 4th quarter.
How do we coach up a player to be the next sleeper?
The answer is not quite simple. However, it is a collection of three things that must go right; 1) experience, 2) pre-existing skill sets, 3) year to year improvement.
Draymond Green averaged 13.4 min in his rookie season, 21.9 minutes in his sophomore season, and became full-time starter in his 3rd season. James Michael McAdoo has not seen the same rise in minutes and he is in his 3rd year of play. It doesn’t help that he is currently the 4th small forward ranked on the Warriors. The window is running short on McAdoo to become more than just a role player off the bench.
For these draft picks to see more minutes, it must be taken from someone else or earned. Draymond benefitted from the regression of David Lee. Pat must supplant Ian Clark who is playing above his paygrade right now and is hitting his 3rd year stride. Hopefully, that 3rd year stride Ian Clark is experiencing will grow to Draymond-like proportions. Damian Jones will benefit in year two when we likely lose Anderson Varejao. Kevon Looney will need to wait for Andre Iguodala to retire, which may be awhile. James Michael McAdoo is showing promise in the last game with the Rockets, but would need to keep improving to leapfrog Kevon Looney.
Should any player be sent to D-League?
Practicing with the core players of the Warriors will be instrumental for developing these drafted players. I do not think we should send Jones or Looney back to Santa Clara except during short 3-day breaks like we did before the game with the Cavaliers. This will provide valuable minutes and Kevon Looney sparkled in that d-league game with a double-double containing 20 points. Pat McCaw has shown improvements, but there was a time where his body language suggested a lack of interest and could have warranted an assignment to Santa Clara to gain more minutes.
Will they make an impact in the second half?
Yes, these players will be able to hold leads while starters sit. What these drafted players need is to be ready for when their number is called in the playoffs. They need to be ready to have a Patty Mills-like come off the bench performance if the team needs it bad. They are still far from that possibility, but they have half of a season to improve and now is the time to keep them on the roster.