Warriors CEO Bob Myers had his bare feet on the famous parquet floor of Boston’s TD Garden.
Champions can do such a thing.
I spotted Myers on the other side of the field, following the Warriors’ Game 6 victory in the 2022 NBA Finals, their fourth league victory in eight years. I had to make a comment about his stunning. He was wearing a t-shirt and running shorts and, again, no shoes. Sitting on the Warriors bench, talking to another reporter, he was holding a golden goblet and a bottle of champagne filled with Michelob Ultra.
Yet, in that moment of ultimate satisfaction, his mind went elsewhere:
The NBA Draft.
It was less than a week away.
The Warriors have a lot of draft practice when celebrating a title win. During the peak of the dynastic years, they once held a draft training session on the morning of their parade in Oakland. (Maybe that’s why they enlisted Jacob Evans …)
And Myers couldn’t help but laugh at the circumstance. This was a champagne problem – or perhaps a Michelob Ultra problem – but a problem nonetheless. Other teams have been concentrating on the draft for weeks, if not months. There are a lot of people working on the draft for the Warriors all year round, but the Dubs would only have a few days where the entire front office and heads of the coaching staff would be put together on the same thing.
And let’s be real, some of those heads would be hangover.
So Myers told me, right there on the floor in Boston: “Who would you like to draft?”
Bob, I thought you’d never ask me.
I’ve been playing fantasy GM for years. This was my moment.
So I told the Warriors decision maker (and Deputy CEO Kirk Lacob, who was standing next to me) what I’m going to tell you now:
“Get the kid out of Wake Forest, Jake LaRavia.”
There have been some really rough drafts over the last few years, but I really like this one. I think a serious talent, perhaps lottery talent, can fall to the Warriors at Choice # 1. 28.
I love Dalen Terry from Arizona. He could be my favorite player in the draft. But I can’t understand what he would look like on the Dubs draw at number 28.
I think young Serbian Nikola Jović could be the ideal choice for the Warriors: Golden State might be hiding it in Europe, but he has a roof as high as any player in this draft. But, again, it would be ridiculous for him to be at number 28.
LaRavia may not be there at number 28, but it feels like a more likely option for the Warriors.
And what an option it is.
There are two types of players available at the end of the first round. High-level players or kids with high ceilings. Given the station, the teams are getting one or the other.
LaRavia is the last guy from the upper floors.
He will probably never be anything other than a role player, but which team can’t use more quality role players?
And this young man (20 years old) was built to be a Warrior.
It only takes a few minutes of watching LaRavia’s highlights to realize it would thrive in the Golden State system. Looking at full, real basketball games (a new concept these days, I know), it’s even more obvious that LaRavia was tailor-made for Steve Kerr’s on-the-go attack.
There is simply no better cutter in this draft.
It might even be the best spot-up shooter that won’t enter the lottery.
There is also a ruse – within the system, of course – that cannot be taught, but can be maximized in San Francisco.
It is evident that he has an enviable IQ in basketball – seeing the entire court, understanding where all nine other players are – and this also shows in the defense of his team.
This guy was made to be a Dub.
The blow to LaRavia? He is not the most athletic type. He can take the defense, but the fast players will give him problems on the perimeter. It is not someone who will create their own shot off the rebound.
In other words, he’s not a high-ceilinged guy.
But the Warriors, once again, just need that high floor.
Remember: Golden State will pay not only the rookie salary of their draft pick, but also the luxury tax that comes with that contract. In all, it would be a lot to pay for someone who can’t help the Warriors repeat themselves as champions.
Money is a legitimate concern here. This is why a draft-and-stash option is very much on the table at number 28.
But the Warriors have also proven, over and over, that they will pay for the quality.
“I don’t think money will be a determining factor when it comes to switching or maintaining the choice,” Myers told his end-of-season presser on Wednesday. “It will be if it makes sense, so it’s not really going to be a financial decision.”
And LaRavia has all the sense in the world for the Warriors.
They have a reserve point guard in Jordan Poole, who needs the ball in his hands if Steph Curry isn’t down. They will also have James Wiseman at the center of the rotation for next season, hopefully alongside Kevon Looney, Draymond Green and Jonathan Kuminga. If the Warriors feel the need to add in either position, they can bring a player with a minimum of veteran – there are always good centers and point guards available inexpensively in free agency.
But the wings? The only way to get players like that is to pay or bet big, as the Warriors did with Otto Porter last season (three games for Orlando in 2021) or as any team does with a late pick in the first round.
I like the odds on LaRavia.
I can see him and Moses Moody holding the second unit wing points down next season, playing against a Poole and Wiseman or Poole and Kuminga pick-and-roll – gliding next to Curry for minutes and using all that gravity to make incisive cuts and open 3 points.
It could be a thing of beauty.
Of course, there are other players more than worthy of choice n. 28. There is no single right choice.
But the manager asked me a question and I answered. I don’t care if he was kidding us or not. I’m a jerk who regularly watches potential NBA Draft clients since the beginning of March. I take it seriously. So take it from me:
LaRavia is the Dubs boy.