After two seasons without a selection, the Warriors’ front office stood pat amid rumors of a draft day trade Thursday, taking versatile forward Kevon Looney with the final pick of the first round.
NBA Draft expert Chad Ford called the pick a steal on Twitter, and Warriors General Manager Bob Myers reiterated that feeling with the media afterwards:
“We had him ranked higher, clearly, than 30. For us, we grabbed what we thought was the best player available and we think he’s a skilled player and he fits our system.”
Reports surfaced in the days preceding the draft that Golden State was looking to trade up from 30th overall, possibly by packaging David Lee and another asset with the pick. Myers said things remained subdued in the war room:
“There was nothing that was discussed that was in a major category. There was more ‘would you like to move back, would you like to take cash, future seconds possibly for your pick’ things of that nature. There was no great trade or huge concepts that were discussed with us.”
Looney is the Warriors first draft pick since 2012, when Golden State made four selections, all of whom were members of the 2015 Championship roster.
Myers described Looney as a “skilled big.” The 19-year-old out of Milwaukee averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds and led all freshman in the nation with 15 double-doubles. Looney has an incredible 7-foot-3 wingspan despite standing at 6-foot-9.
Looney was an exceptional offensive rebounder in college and can defend multiple positions, a key need in Golden State’s small lineup. Looney can’t yet create his own offense, but has a decent stroke from deep and is adept at scoring in transition.
One of the reasons Looney fell to the Warriors could be a hip injury ESPN reported is serious enough to cause him to miss significant time next season, though the Looney camp says it is hardly an issue. It’s been reported that Looney completed every pre-draft workout, and did not miss a single minute due to injury at UCLA. Former UCLA alum Myers did not seem too concerned:
“It’s possible (he misses time) but not for sure. We’ll look at him and let our doctors make that determination. … But we have no indication that there’s anything that has to happen. We have no indication that he needs any, or has to have any type of procedures done.”
With the team’s desire to move David Lee and his $15 million salary this offseason, Looney will provide depth on the bench at power forward. The Warriors have until June 30 to exercise a $3.8 million team option on backup power forward Marreese Speights. Myers said the team is “inclined” to re-sign Speights and that the team is “leaning that way.” Myers also said the parties have not yet spoken, but that the selection shouldn’t be seen as an indication of other roster moves:
“I don’t think this selection should be seen as a precursor to any moves … For the way our roster is currently assembled, it will be hard for whoever we took to find minutes.”