Warriors pick Blake Wesley in SB Nation’s mock draft

We are just two days away from the 2022 NBA Draft, and the Golden State Warriors have roughly 48 hours to shake off their champagne hangovers and select the next player they hope will play a few minutes of garbage time action for the 2023 championship team.

But we aren’t dealing with trades in the SB Nation Mock Draft! Every year, we do a mock draft where the GMs team are represented by writers from all 30 of the team sites. Or at least, all the teams picking in the first round, which means 23 team sites represented, with Noah Magaro-George of Pounding The Rock working a triple shift on behalf of San Antonio’s three first-round picks.

Last year, our own Brady Klopfer mocked Davion Mitchell and Alperen Şengün to the Warriors, but in that mock, Jonathan Kuminga was already off the board at No. 5, and Moses Moody was also long gone by Golden State Of Mind’s second lottery pick. Clearly Bob Myers is a fan of the site.

This year, I’m taking over the drafting, as the Warriors ’two-year sojourn in the lottery ends, and they return to their usual late-first-round position at No. 28. There’s not as many Kuminga-esque studs on the board at this point, but I tried to select the player with the most upside. Unfortunately, I can’t be sure he has the highest ceiling, is the twitchiest, the most impressive basketball IQ, or plays like a coach on the floor, but I know you’re supposed to say those things in a draft preview.

At No. 28, though oft-rumored Warriors target Jake LaRavia was still on the board, I took shooting guard Blake Wesley, out of Notre Dame.

Why Blake Wesley?

  • Notable players off the board: Nikola Jovic, Dalen Terry, Jaden Hardy, Ryan Rollins, MarJon Beauchamp, TyTy Washington Jr., a lot of guys, this is the 28th pick
  • Notable players remaining: Jake LaRavia, Bryce McGowens, Christian Braun, Wendell Moore, Jr.

Drafting at No. 28 is not the place to find immediate help for your defending champion basketball team. The Warriors nailed this pick three years ago, finding Jordan Poole with the No. 28 selection, but even Poole wasn’t a contributor until two-thirds of the way through his sophomore season. But with Poole and their other young players, the Warriors have shown they’re good at development, and they’re patient. Just as long as the team doctor doesn’t botch someone’s routine meniscus surgery. Or get very unlucky with rehab after a totally competent knee procedure, please don’t sue me!

I chose Blake Wesley, a freshman sensation out of Notre Dame who has traits that the Warriors have looked for recently. Wesley is a 6’4 ”shooting guard, but he has long arms – a wingspan of 6’9”, and a standing reach of 8-foot-7, perfect for getting the deflections the Warriors thrive on defensively. He’s fast and explosive, and he’s fairly crafty, albeit raw. If you’re looking for a player who can pair with Poole long-term, an athletic and rangy guard is a good choice. Plus, he can really dunk.

And just think how excited Warriors broadcaster and Fighting Irish super fan Bob Fitzgerald will be when the Warriors select their first Notre Dame player since Troy Murphy! He’d have so many new catchphrases involving the luck of the Irishman, winning one for the Big Dipper, playing like a champion today, the list goes on. And if Fitz keeps dyeing his hair the same unnatural color, Wesley will feel comfortable playing near another Golden Dome.

Wesley led the Fighting Irish with 14.4 points last year, with 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists, and he’s an excellent ballhandler who has a nice spin move. He’s great at getting to the rim – though not great at scoring when he gets there. Wesley was a solid defender for a freshman and showed a lot of strength for a 185-pound teenager. But he’s not a good shooter, which is why he might drop to the end of the first round.

Of course, the Warriors have invested heavily in their development staff in recent years. They may feel confident about fixing a young player’s awkward jump shot after the work they did with Jonathan Kuminga last year. Kuminga had a rough shooting start, but from December on, he shot a respectable 35.% from three-point range. And Wesley would get plenty of time down in Santa Cruz to develop his game, with the potential to be a very versatile defender once he hits an NBA weight room for a few months. Overall, no other prospect had the upside or the switchiness of Wesley, and if the team is lucky enough that he falls to No. 28, the Warriors should sprint to the podium to select him.

Or, more likely, they’ll trade the pick.

This does make a fair amount of sense. Kuminga is 19, Moody turned 20 years old during the Finals, and Wiseman has only been able to legally drink for 12 weeks now. Obviously they can’t predict what happens in free agency – Otto Porter Jr. is likely out of their price range, Damion Lee might get a raise elsewhere, and Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II are unrestricted free agents – but all signs are that the Warriors would like to bring everyone back. Which means that they’re looking at a packed roster even before the draft.

Moving the pick for a future asset or multiple second-rounders (who don’t have guaranteed contracts) makes a lot of financial sense, although it’s pretty boring for fans. There wasn’t a ton of playing time for rookies even this year, despite a slew of injuries, with Kuminga averaging just under 17 minutes per game and Moody getting 11.9 minutes in just 52 games. Sometimes there’s too many rookies, especially if Andre Iguodala can take time out from his venture capital fund to play basketball one more season.

Still, if Wesley falls to them, he has enough potential that it’s worth the tax hit and the commuter fare to Santa Cruz next season. To paraphrase Draymond Green, “Don’t let us draft another f ——— scoring guard from the Midwest or you’ll have to f ——— hear it from me.”

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