Rumor: James Wiseman on top of Warriors draft board

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If the NBA cancels the rest of the regular season, the Golden State Warriors would have the worst record in the NBA. Even if the league tries to play a few more regular season games (something Steve Kerr does not expect), it’s highly unlikely we will see enough games played to change the Warriors Draft Lottery odds.

The Warriors will have a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick.

If that happens, they have James Wiseman on top of their draft board, reports Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.

A league source said the Warriors have Wiseman at the top of their draft board; understandable considering forward Dragan Bender, a late-season addition via two 10-day contracts, is the only 7-footer on the roster and 6’9″ Kevon Looney is the only listed center. But none of the executives surveyed put Wiseman in the category of Dwight Howard or even Deandre Ayton, big men capable of playing a significant role on Day 1.

“Does Wiseman change the game for them, the way they play?” the lower-level Eastern Conference talent evaluator asks. “No. He doesn’t play hard enough. But he makes sense. They don’t need him to be great. If he goes some place and has to be Trae [Young] or Ja [Morant], he’s not that. But if [the Warriors’] top four are back, he can be Harrison Barnes, a good fifth player.”

While Wiseman might be a good fit eventually — if he will accept that role, which is a question with him — it would not be for a couple of years. Wiseman is not ready to help a team with title aspirations right now or even help a top-four team in the West, which a healthy Warriors team likely would be. He has potential as a pick-setting rim runner, but he is raw and it will take time to get there. The Warriors are a win-now team with aging stars; they don’t have years to wait.

If the Warriors land the top pick, expect them to try hard to trade down. Warriors owner Joe Lacob said as much recently, and it’s what others around the league expect.  When asked what he would do with the No. 1 pick if he were the Warriors GM, NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster said trade down to picks four through six, and likely land a player such as Obi Toppin, Isaac Okoro, or Deni Avdija — players who should not go No. 1 but are better poised to help immediately.

The problem for the Warriors, or whoever lands the top pick, is this is a weak draft at the top — Dauster described it this way: the top three picks in this draft would go 6-10 most years — so there may not be much return in sliding down. Still, the Warriors would explore it as their first option. They need a veteran or someone who can help now more than a project.

The NBA Draft Lottery is scheduled for May 19, the Draft itself June 25. Because the league has yet to cancel games officially, it has not moved either of those dates, but expect both to be pushed back in the coming weeks. The league calendar remains in flux as the NBA tries to figure out if it can salvage some form of this season and postseason.