Who Can the Warriors Realistically Acquire With Their Top-Five Pick?

Steph Curry and Steve Kerr
Steph Curry and Steve Kerr / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors had a first-to-worst turnaround for the ages in 2019-20. After five straight NBA Finals appearances the team fell apart. Kevin Durant left, Klay Thompson was shelved thanks to his ACL tear suffered in the 2019 Finals, and Steph Curry broke his hand after four games. All that led the once-dominant Warriors finding themselves with the worst record in the NBA. While the lottery (and probably the draft, eventually) has been postponed due to the national lockdown, Golden State is guaranteed a top-five pick in the draft.

On Wednesday, president and general manager Bob Myers said the team would consider trading its first-round pick. This is classic "all options are on the table" media fodder from Myers, but trading the pick would be the smart move for Golden State. The Warriors picked a poor year to bottom out, as there is no elite prospect head and shoulders above his compatriots as the case has been in the five past years. The 2020 draft is probably the worst since 2013 in terms of star power. There are still good players to be found, but whoever has the top slot isn't guaranteed a home run like with Zion Williamson, Karl-Anthony Towns, or Ben Simmons.

There also isn't a natural trade partner for the Dubs if they want to swing for the fences. Unlike the last several years, this NBA offseason doesn't have a single disgruntled star looking for a new home. Fans from the Bay Area can crow all they want about Giannis Antetokounmpo heading West, but they aren't going to land him with a top-five pick in this year's draft with salary to match. So, it begs the question: if the Warriors do decide to trade their pick, who could they get?

With Andrew Wiggins' salary, they could make a trade for most players on a regular max deal. There aren't many of those around the league who also want out of their current situation, though. The only real option in that regard is Al Horford.

Horford's first season in Philadelphia didn't go as planned, to say the least. He looked like he lost a step defensively and can't shoot well enough to provide the spacing Philly's offense desperately needs. Horford would likely thrive in Golden State's wide-open system, even if it requires him to play center. Horford reportedly signed with the Sixers partly so he could avoid playing center with Joel Embiid taking that spot. Philadelphia is already capped out for the foreseeable future, so adding Wiggins to the salary sheet wouldn't make a big difference, and they would get the chance to pick a productive player who will be quite cheap for the next four years. It would be a do-over for the Markelle Fultz mistake, if you will.

The Warriors would probably need a sweetener in the form of Zhaire Smith, though. Trading their pick and Wiggins for Horford alone means they're locked into the Curry/Thompson/Green/Horford core for the next three years with no opportunity to build for future. Still, with a lack of an obvious selection, they might be more willing to grab someone they'll know will both fit well and produce in 2020 with Horford than taking a chance in this draft.

The path I think the Warriors will take if they do trade the pick is to trade down and acquire a young player who needs a change of scenery. The Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks seem like natural partners in that regard. If the lottery goes as projected (rare, but not unheard of) the Pistons would end up with the fifth pick, while New York would own the sixth, and the Warriors would have the first pick. Golden State could trade its pick to the Pistons for Luke Kennard (for example) and allow Detroit its choice at the top of the draft. Given the state of the franchise, the Pistons would probably require more than that, but after a few injury-riddled seasons, they may be low enough on Kennard's potential to move him.

Similarly, the Knicks have approximately one thousand power forwards and Kevin Knox had been essentially banished to the bench by the time the season was put on hold. If Golden State feels the guy it wants will still be available at five, the team would probably be open to moving down four slots to take on Knox as a reclamation project. There are numerous other prospects in the lottery who could be Warriors targets depending on how far down they'd like to move, i.e. Malik Monk in Charlotte or perhaps Lauri Markkanen in Chicago if the latter's front office still feels like he'd be better used as a trade piece rather than a central piece of their core.

There isn't an Anthony Davis or Paul George out there this summer, waiting for a new team to save them. There isn't a way to acquire another star to keep Golden State championship contenders now and give reasonable confidence for success in the long-term. The Warriors could stand pat and take James Wiseman or Anthony Edwards, but those two -- and most of the other prospects in 2020 -- are anything but a sure thing. The best move is to trade down and take on a reclamation project for a minimal price. We'll see if they have any willing dance partners to do that.