By: Benjamin Cruz
The NBA Draft is often where a bottom-dwelling franchise can start to turn their fortunes around and begin to carve their path towards a championship or at the very least, relevance. Unfortunately for the Warriors, too many drafts have come and gone and neither of those has come to fruition. With Bob Myers at the helm flanked by Joe Lacob and “The Logo” as well as the number seven overall draft pick as their main carving tool, optimism has been oozing out of everyone within the organization over the past few weeks.
Last night marked the first time I would not be watching the draft from home, but instead at the Warriors practice facility along with all of the other various media outlets covering Golden State’s side of the draft. Naturally, I had to document some of the standout events from the evening to share with you, the wonderful readers.
Please note that I didn’t write down every single pick. Interesting things or thoughts don’t always come up. I’m only one man!
Here we go.
3:50pm – Arrived at Warriors practice facility. I’m sitting behind Matt Steinmetz and Ray Ratto. Tim Kawakami also just walked in. I look behind me and to my right where Tom Tolbert and Eric Byrnes are doing a live broadcast. Excuse me while I pick up all the names I just dropped.
4:00pm – ESPN telecast begins. The Unibrow is looking nice and spiffy for the draft. Anthony Davis is looking sharp as well.
4:32pm – David Stern comes out to begin the festivities. For someone who gets booed a lot, he sure knows how to put on a happy face. Or am I confusing happiness for smugness?
4:37pm – New Orleans selects Anthony Davis with the first overall pick. His college coach John Calipari is whispering something into his ear. I’m guessing he’s asking him for a couple hundred grand to help with recruiting.
4:39pm – If you’re playing the “Jay Bilas Wingspan Drinking Game,” Bilas just said wingspan three times in a row. Three shots! Go, go, go!
4:44pm – Charlotte delivers a bit of a surprise in taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second pick. I’m trying to decipher if he put his hands on his face ’cause he was shocked or because he realized that he has to play for the Bobcats and their Oakland A’s-type crowd.
4:47pm – Bradley Beal goes third to the Wizards. Happy birthday indeed.
4:53pm – Cavs select Dion Waiters fourth overall. I had the Warriors taking him at seven. I hate being wrong. It happens a lot, but I still hate it.
4:59pm – Kings select Thomas Robinson with the fifth pick. They could have a very nice frontline with him and Cousins for years to come assuming Cousins doesn’t punch him in the face or something.
5:05pm – Trail Blazers take the kid out of Oakland, Damian Lillard at number 6. I’ll give you $1 if you can tell me where Weber St. is without using Google.
5:06pm – That all but assures Harrison Barnes is heading to the Warriors. Perhaps all those fans who bought Matt Barnes jerseys a few years ago (all three of them) can simply change the number to make it current.
5:10pm – David Lee tweets out “Welcome to the squad @Hbarnes!” with about 40 seconds left still on the clock for the Warriors. Did Lacob text him the pick early or something?
5:11pm – Stern makes it official. Warriors take Barnes at seven. I wonder how he feels about switching shades of blue.
5:15pm – Bob Myers runs out and takes the stage to deliver a quick statement before heading back into the draft room. He says his phone was blowing up with teams trying to trade for the pick when they realized Barnes was still there at seven. “We’re thrilled, we love him for our team.”
5:22pm – With the ninth pick, the Pistons take Andre Drummond who, along with his family, is very overcome with emotion. Always nice to see that.
5:23pm – If my girlfriend were here, she would have hit me with the “OMG that’s so cute that their family is crying!” face about 32 times already.
5:26pm – New Orleans all of a sudden becomes one of the “I’m going to buy NBA League Pass just to watch them!” teams after selecting Doc’s son, Austin Rivers with the number 10 pick. Davis, Rivers and potentially re-signing Eric Gordon? Nice.
6:11pm – Mavs take Tyler Zeller at 17. He’s the last one remaining in the green room. Apparently a large portion of the crowd began chanting “Cody’s better!” Cody is his brother, a sophomore, who currently plays for Indiana University. Tough crowd.
6:22pm – Magic take Andrew Nicholson at 19. He’s from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada which is where I grew up. I know nothing about him but let it be known that I am now rooting for him to win Rookie of the Year, MVP, Sixth Man of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year this season.
6:40pm – Boston takes Fab Melo at 22. Best name in the draft, hands down.
7:13pm – The media assembled here get to interview Barnes via telephone. He’s definitely well spoken but keeps his answers short and direct. He informs us that he signed his first autograph after his freshman year of high school.
7:23pm – Warriors take Festus Ezeli out of Vanderbilt with the number 30 pick. A bunch of Seinfeld Festivus jokes are littering my Twitter timeline. It’s a good day.
7:35pm – Ezeli’s full name: Ifeanyi Festus Ezeli-Ndeulue. Say that eight times fast.
7:50pm – Warriors use their 35th pick to take Draymond Green out of Michigan State. A very nice pick. Rebounding translates!
7:55pm – Ezeli hops on the phone to speak with us. When asked if he was the Warriors’ answer for toughness, he responds, “I will run through a wall.” He’s got that Wile E. Coyote mentality.
8:30pm – Warriors use their last pick to take Ognjen Kuzmic. Think you can pronounce his first name correctly on your first try?
8:54pm – Myers takes the stage. He fielded a lot of questions about Ezeli. He goes on to say the draft would have been a “B” as opposed to an “A” had they not been able to land him.
9:15pm – I listen in on Joe Lacob chatting with a few reporters. He is extremely ecstatic about the selections, especially Barnes. Adds that there were three guys the Warriors really liked: Barnes, Waiters and Kidd-Gilchrist.
The Warriors ended up with a very solid 2012 draft. Whether they keep all of these picks remains to be seen but if we’re just judging them based on who was selected, they passed with flying colors. Barnes, of course, is the biggest name who was acquired but Ezeli and Green may prove to be very important, if not just as important, pieces down the road.
With the ability to talk to free agents looming, you would have to assume that now the focus turns to bringing in a veteran backup point guard and possibly a backup power forward in order to fully round out this team. As it stands right now, they are a borderline playoff team at best but with the right moves in free agency, they should be able to make that leap back into the playoff picture.
While that may not equate to championship glory just yet, carving out a playoff spot would begin to give the fans something they haven’t had in a very long time in regards to the Warriors: hope.
Benjamin Cruz is a writer for BayAreaBall.com and one of the co-hosts of the Sugar Free Sports Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @cruzkontrol.