Was the Golden State Warriors’ 2012 draft their best of the last decade?
Yes, I think so. And here’s why.
The first objection people will have to that assertion is that this draft wasn’t the one involving a certain point guard out of Davidson. However, a draft can’t simply be measured by the first pick, or the best player selected. All the picks have to come into play when judging. This draft saw Golden State pick up three major pieces, which makes it the most important one of recent memory.
First off, they grabbed Harrison Barnes. He wasn’t particularly good offensively during the season, but did a decent amount of defensive work next to Klay Thompson and provided some fire for the team with his athletic play and crazy dunking ability. Overall, his game isn’t nearly as slashing-oriented as the team would like it to be–he plays more like a shooter.
If Barnes can shift his primary usage to inside play rather than jump shots (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson do plenty of that), he could become much better than he is. His athleticism is a blessing, and he should use it more. That being said, he shouldered a full starting role as a rookie, and found a way to flourish een in playoffs as a small four.
Another one of their picks was Draymond Green. A defensive man and rebounder, no one expected his forte to be offense, and those expectations were essentially right. He never became a scorer and shot a dismal percentage from the field over the season. He improved it a lot during playoffs, but he never made much of an impact on offens.
That being said, Green has the tools to play well and showed flashes of scoring ability. He made his name as a tough defender off the bench and for ripping down rebounds under the basket. Those things he did very well this year. The defense was most important, as one of the major knocks against this run-and-gun team is a lack of that facet of the game. Inserting Green into the lineup gave a big boost in that department, which is already more than most teams get out of their lower draft picks.
Lastly, we come to Festus Ezeli. As a center, his drafting was an extremely important call. Andrew Bogut was riddled with injury and David Lee can’t really play a flex center, which left the team in a rough spot. Enter this Ezeli, who served well all year as a rotation center behind Bogut and Carl Landry, and his role is even more important now that Landry has opted out of the second year of his contract.
Due to injury, though, Ezeli’s development will be halted, as he’s set to miss a chunk of this year already. Despite that, he’s a promising young guy who handled a bigger role than most rookies have to deal with. He was an integral part of a team that was the NBA’s biggest surprise this season, as well as ensuring that there would be two true centers playing in games even if Bogut went down again.
The basic message here is that the 2012 Draft is superior to the others because it was the most complete one in recent memory. Sure, there have been better players picked up. That much is for sure. However, this was the first one in a long time with a decent amount of picks, no bad trades and no poor decision-making. To add to that, the Warriors got three rookies that shouldered major roles on an up- and-coming team during a roller coaster of a season. Now that’s a productive draft year. The 2012 class should all progress quickly into fantastic young players and could go on to become major trade chips or integral parts of the Warriors’ future.