Warriors select Vanderbilt center in NBA Draft

With the 30th pick in the draft, the Warriors were sitting in front a Christmas tree wishing for a bicycle.

This story has been updated with quotes and other material from the Warriors headquarters in Oakland.

They woke up on Christmas morning — not sure a new Schwinn was realistic — and then the shine from a cherry red beach cruiser with chrome spokes blinded them. That’s the new reality with Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw.

Several high upside players were available when Golden State made their selection — Michigan State forward Deyonta Davis and center Diamond Stone being two of them — but Jones, an electric defender who can score in the post, was the choice of Myers and co.

Said Myers:

“We had Jones higher than 30. A decent amount higher than 30. We like the idea of getting more athletic. We like the idea of getting big. Even though we played small quite a bit. It’s hard to find big guys — it’s hard to find big guys in free agency, even if we trade, so if we get him in the draft, we think it’s a good value.”

Some media scouts argue that Jones needs to be more aggressive and polish his post moves, points which may be valid. Another major issue is a torn pectoral muscle suffered during a pre-draft workout with the Orlando Magic, which could keep him out for summer league, and potentially training camp.

The Warriors medical staff feel comfortable that a full recovery is in order since and Myers noted the difference between an upper body injury and a lower body ailment, important because their first round pick from 2015 missed the entire season with a major hip injury.

Jones’ defensive upside has been lauded to the level of DeAndre Jordan comparisons, though his rebounding production was underwhelming during his final season with Vanderbilt.

His 7-foot-4 wingspan provides nice reach, and his defensive prowess could be valuable to a team likely to lose center Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao in free agency.

The 7-foot, 245 pound center from Baton Rouge, Louisiana started all three seasons at Vanderbilt and could fill the role of cheap rotational asset for the next four seasons, at least, and compliment 2015 draft selection Kevon Looney in the Dubs front court.

Second round avian

The Warriors weren’t done after taking Jones, and would later dip into their piggy back and buy a McCaw — Golden State paid a ransom to reenter the draft and took lanky guard Patrick McCaw.

A highly athletic wing, the 20-year-old McCaw excels in three point range and racking up steals. The two things weigh heavily for teams big on analytics, since scoring points efficiently and creating turnovers are the basis for many projection models.

Myers, strapped for draft capital following the 2013 trade for swingman and defensive specialist Andre Iguodala, said:

“I joked around yesterday, I said ‘I know you guys are going to want to buy a second round pick.’ I said on one condition: We’re not using a future second. We’re already out a couple future seconds, we don’t have a first round pick next year.’ I looked at Joe (Lacob) and said ‘It’s your money if you want to do it.'”

Golden State’s second round pick for 2016 was shipped to Utah as one small part of that deal, and the Jazz used it to select Berkeley point guard Tyrone Wallace. Utah also selected shooting guardRodney Hood with the 23rd pick of the 2014 draft, formerly the Warriors selection, and the Dubs have resorted to signing undrafted rookies to fill their bench over the last three offseasons.

A product of St. Louis and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, McCaw’s build is slight and will need demand some sessions in the weight room. His 180 pound, 6-foot-7 frame would ideally fill out at closer to 210 pounds, something that’s achievable over time. With his new NBA salary, protein drinks shouldn’t be an issue.

McCaw averaged 33.7 minutes per game during his sophomore year — his last — with five boards, four assists and 2.5 steals per night.

Warriors scouts told Myers at the conclusion of the draft that, if they were told Golden State could select Jones and McCaw in the draft, they’d be thrilled.

Golden State would hope that McCaw can, at least, play a rotational role behind the spot to likely be filled by a Harrison Barnes replacement, and also backup Klay Thompson. That versatile type of player is now highly coveted by NBA teams. Myers said:

“I’m thrilled, and like I said, we think they both have a bright future.”


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.