* Second in a series of Warriors logical options for the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft…
There are many reasons why the Warriors could shy away from drafting USC wing DeMar DeRozan.
No. 1, he’s sooo duplicative of Stephen Jackson and Kelenna Azubuike and maybe even Marco Belinelli, Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph (if he ever gets time at small forward). DeRozan surely doesn’t solve the Warriors’ huge needs for a playmaker on offense and a defensive rebounder.
Nos. 2-6, the Warriors probably have their sights on Jordan Hill if they’re going PF, or Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings or Tyreke Evans if they’re going play-making guard.
There’s only one good reason why they should deeply consider it. But it’s a really, really good reason:
* DeRozan (6-foot-6) might be the second most physically talented player in this draft, behind only Blake Griffin.
Other than Griffin, I think DeRozan is the only other player you could say has a game, body and mindset that seems to likely project long-term as an NBA starter and possibly a very good one.
That doesn’t mean he will be a star, just means you can see it in there, without a lot of caveats. (Stephen Curry and Ricky Rubio would be my other choices, but they’ve got caveats: Is Curry strong enough and can he play defense? Can Rubio shoot well enough?)
DeRozan’s not very risky, and he could be very good, maybe in the Andre Iguodala-Rudy Gay-Mickael Pietrus high-middle-low range, which is a pretty decent range.
And if, for various reasons, the Warriors choose not to go with, say, Hill or Curry, or if Hill and Curry are both surprisingly off the board (along with Evans and a few others), or if there’s a stalemate in the Warriors war room and they need to just pick the best guy on their board, regardless of position…
Why wouldn’t the Warriors immediately select DeRozan? And maybe he’d turn out to be the best pick, in the long-term, anyway.
Here’s one gargantuan supposition by me, that might not be met with great warmth by the Warriors fandom, but oh well, I’m used to it…
* Is it possible that the fan favorite trio of Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Anthony Randolph don’t quite perfectly fit Don Nelson’s vision? (Elllis is too small for the 2, too much shoot-first for the 1, not enough of a play-maker for Nelson all the way around; Biedrins and Randolph don’t shoot outside jumpers.).
And that a projected line-up with Stephen Jackson at the 3, DeRozan at the 2, Anthony Morrow as the main wing back-up, Turiaf at the 5, and somebody like Chris Bosh at the 4 really, really does fit the vision?
(I know, there’s still NO POINT GUARD in either line-up. I’m working on that one. Too bad they don’t have that ol’ No. 5 any more. He REALLY fit the Nellie formula, of course.)
I think there’s something to that above-mentioned meta-thought. Something to it. Not 100% right, but something.
I don’t know if Nelson is thinking that way, and the three fan favorites I’ve mentioned also happen to be very good players, and Ellis and Biedrins are making HUGE money and won’t be easy to trade. Plus Randolph is so good the Warriors might never want to trade him.
But you’ve got to realize that the current talent is just a bit off from what Nelson usually loves.
DeRozan (if he can hit jumpers) is a fit for the Nelson system in a way that Ellis, for instance, is not.
Beyond the talent, which many NBA people believe is very high, let’s quickly run through some of the DeRozan high points:
* He finished his freshman season at USC on a strong offensive note, after beginning it with more defensive focus than you usually get out of teenagers.
(One good shooting sign: 52.3% from the field, a great number for a Pac-10 guard. Two bad shooting signs: 13.7% from three-point distance, 64.6% FT.)
I’d say his offensive game is trending up, and when you add that to his physical ability to get into the lane… that’s a player that might average 18 to 20 points a game relatively fast in his NBA career.
* He’s only 19, with clear room for major expansion as a player.
(I realize John Hollinger’s respected Draft Rater placed DeRozan way, way way down on this year’s list. 54th, in fact,. Jordan Hill, by the way, was 26th. Ty Lawson was 1st, Blake Griffin 2nd.
(As Hollinger puts it, DeRozan just didn’t do enough things to register well in any category. That’s an issue that certainly makes you wonder about DeRozan–why so few blocks and steals? Why the lousy FT%.
(But one-year collegians are tougher to rate, since they’re often put in weird situations. Yeah, safe to believe that the USC situation was weird last year. I’ll go ahead and say it: DeRozan is going to be a much better pro than James Harden, who Draft Rater ranks 10th. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it.)
* If the Warriors are going to go with Monta Ellis at the point, DeRozan fits in well as a strong defensive-minded 2/3, combining with Stephen Jackson and basically replacing (and upgrading) Azubuike at the other wing spot.
DeRozan would give the Warriors a much better shot at defending tough 2s than anybody they’ve got, especially if they don’t want Jackson chasing quicker players for 42 minutes a game. I think DeRozan probably could take a stab at defending the bigger point guards, too.
* Drafting DeRozan would certainly duplicate their current duplication at the wing, and he’s not a point guard and probably couldn’t even fake it.
But he’d be a possible replacement for Jackson down the road. He could fit in nicely with Ellis, Morrow, Randolph and Biedrins/Turiaf, with a slashing game that seems to complement Ellis and Morrow.
And if the Warriors wanted to see what they could get for Randolph down the road… and they could get a young veteran, jump-shooting power forward in return… well, they could possibly trade Randolph.
And then DeRozan would turn into their New Young Thing, possibly to play alongside Whoever They Can Trade For.
I’m not saying this is the Warriors’ best or most likely option. In fact, it’s probably not. But I’m saying DeRozan isn’t an option they can swiftly disregard, when the time comes and if things don’t break right for them in the war room.
Or maybe my meta-thought is something to consider. (Doubtful.)
–The series so far:
Option 1: The case for Jordan Hill.
Option 2: The case for DeMar DeRozan.
Next… Option 3: The case for Stephen Curry.
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