The Golden State Warriors ended their experiment with James Wiseman before the NBA trade deadline last month, sending the former number two overall pick to the Detroit Pistons in a deal that brought them back Gary Payton II.
While it was a clear win-now move to increase the Warriors’ chances of back-to-back titles, the trade did place further question marks on the future of the franchise’s big man rotation. Although they’ll look to address their needs via free agency and perhaps even through another trade, Golden State could look at exploring another option via this year’s draft.
The Ringer has the Golden State Warriors taking a James Wiseman replacement with their first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
In an update to his 2023 mock draft, the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has the Warriors taking Duke center Derek Lively II with the 18th overall pick of the first round. Standing at 7’1″ and with a 7’7″ wingspan, Lively has very similar physical traits to that of Wiseman. In 32 games with Duke this season, the Freshman has averaged 5.4 points, five rebounds, and an impressive 2.3 blocks in 19.8 minutes per game.
O’Connor sees Lively as having ‘defensive versatility and offensive upside’, though a comparison to former Warrior Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t scream optimism. Still, the Warriors need to address their future at the center position and taking Lively may be a start.
"“James Wiseman never worked out for the Warriors, but they still need size, and Lively is worth a look following his immense progress over his freshman season… If he masters his fundamentals, he could become a versatile big capable of excelling in any scheme”, O’Connor writes."
Can the Warriors afford to take another project center with their first-round pick? It all depends on what they do with the remainder of the roster, though that won’t necessarily be known until free agency which occurs post-draft. Working in their favour is that any selection will be on significantly less money than Wiseman was/is as the 2020 second overall pick.