7 targets for Golden State’s first-round pick

The NBA rests for no one, not even the champions.

Less than a week after the Warriors won their fourth title in eight years, they’ll select new players for their team in Thursday’s NBA Draft (5 pm, ESPN).

The Warriors own selections Nos. 28, 51, and 57, the first coming in the first round.

And that’s where our focus lies in the days – no, hours – preceding the draft.

The second round is the NBA at its strangest. But the first round is where bad teams become good and good teams become great.

Or, in the case of the Warriors, it’s where they stay great.

There are three ways the Warriors can handle pick No. 28 on Thursday, and there is no right answer.

All I can say is this: Thank goodness I started watching these guys months ago, because this is a strong draft class and the Warriors should have multiple positive options.

Here’s what they could do and some players they could do it with come Thursday:

Maximize for the here and now

This means getting a role player – whether that be a backup point guard, a 3-and-D wing, or a big man who is going to provide 15 minutes a night, what matters is that he can contribute this upcoming season and for the remainder of his rookie contract.

Effectively, this is getting a player on the veteran minimum with upside for later.

Last season, the No. 28 pick had a slotted first-year salary of $ 1.6 million that increases by less than 10 percent by the third year.

For a team that is deep in luxury tax hell like the Warriors, these are the kind of locked-in cost savings that go a long way to building a championship team.

But that pick has to pan out, and that’s anything but a guarantee in the late first round.

There’s no question that Jordan Poole – pick No. 28 in 2019 – has been a hit for the Warriors and a vital part of this championship team, but in his first two seasons, he was one of the worst players in the NBA, spending time in the G League to build confidence.

And with the Warriors likely paying as much as six dollars in luxury tax on every dollar in this contract, yeah, you can bet they’d be interested in immediate returns.

Of course, those are the hardest to find. In 2018, the Warriors thought they had an immediate-impact role player in point guard Jacob Evans, who was also selected at No. 28.

Two years later, he was a toss-in in the Andrew Wiggins trade, as the Warriors wanted to rid themselves of his contract. He’s now playing center (yes, center) for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Options:

Jake LaRavia • 20-year-old wing • Wake Forest

»An exceptional cutter who can pass, shoot and finish at an NBA level. His strength and smarts will make him a switchable defender and he’s a deft rebounder. He looks tailor-made for the Warriors’ motion offense and a role as a stat-sheet filler that positively affects winning. LaRavia is a hot name right now, so the Warriors might have to keep their fingers crossed that he is still around at No. 28.

Dalen Terry • 19-year-old wing • Arizona

»If Terry is available at No. 28, the Warriors must take him and not think twice about it. He’s not the perfect win-now option – there’s upside to be found with him, no doubt – but the floor is plenty high to go with a high ceiling.

I can’t believe he won’t be a lottery pick, but I’ve been assured that he should be picked in the late first. I must be missing something, because he’s a long wing who shows a high basketball IQ, outstanding passing, and athleticism to defend on the perimeter from Day 1. The 3-point shot is serviceable in catch-and-shoot situations as well.

Christian Braun • 21-year-old wing • Kansas

»A do-it-all option. He’s not going to be an All-Star, but he won’t lose you games, either. Comes in with polish on his jumper and a nose for the basketball. He can cover a lot of ground and is tremendous around the rim. Plug-and-play depth wing.


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