After entering the season with championship aspirations, sitting with a 10-12 record is a major disappointment for the Golden State Warriors through the first 22 games.
While it may be too early to consider the idea of the Warriors missing the playoffs entirely, it's important to note that doing so would be an unmitigated disaster in more ways than one.
The Golden State Warriors owe their first-round pick (top four protected) to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2024
Wasting a prime season of Stephen Curry would be an abject failure, not to mention the embarrassment of missing the playoffs with an experienced roster. But in the background of why the Warriors absolutely must lift their current level...the fact they don't own their first-round pick in next year's NBA Draft. Well they do, but only if they collapse further to the point of garnering a top four pick. Anything outside the 1-4 protection and Golden State's first-round pick will go to the Portland Trail Blazers.
It originates with a trade in the 2019 offseason where the Warriors had to attach that pick to Andre Iguodala in order to get off his salary, allowing them to bring in D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant.
The pick flipped from Memphis to the Boston Celtics in a three-team deal during the offseason, before the Celtics sent it to the Trail Blazers as part of the package for Jrue Holiday. Portland will now be keeping tabs on Golden State's record, particularly given the rebuilding nature of the franchise.
In Bleacher Report's latest NBA Mock Draft, analyst Jonathan Wasserman has the Trail Blazers taking Cody Williams with the ninth overall pick via the Warriors. The 6'8" Colorado forward is compared to Jerami Grant thanks to his build, offensive production and defensive effort.
The individual prospect doesn't matter at this stage but regardless, the notion of Golden State giving up a top 10 pick is difficult to read even in theory. Teams that miss the playoffs are usually rewarded with a high-end talent, yet the Warriors won't have that should their current record extrapolate over 82 games.
Golden State not only need to make sure they make the playoffs for obvious reasons, but they also need to ensure they don't give up a valuable lottery pick to a West rival.