Since Joe Lacob bought the Golden State Warriors in July 2010, they’ve made a habit of targeting late first- or early second-round picks that fit their system and turning them into successful rotation players. After finishing the Las Vegas Summer League at 1-4, it looks like the Warriors might have found another gem in the second round of 2017.
The run of success began in 2012, when the Warriors successfully identified forward Draymond Green at 35th overall. It took Green some time to establish himself, but he has developed into a perennial All-Star and the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year. Green figures to be a staple for years to come.
In that same draft, the Warriors took center Festus Ezeli at 30th overall, and he gave them three solid years of production before knee injuries derailed his career. In 2015, the Warriors drafted talented stretch 4 Kevon Looney with the final pick in the first round. Looney has the talent to stick in the league but has had trouble finding rotation minutes for the Warriors given his youth and inexperience.
Last year, Golden State drafted talented and athletic center Damian Jones with the final pick in the first round. Jones looks primed to have a big sophomore season as a possible rotation big. They also sent $2.4 million to Milwaukee to buy the 38th pick and select combo guard Patrick McCaw, who played meaningful rotation minutes all season and even deep into the playoffs.
The 2017 draft gave Golden State another opportunity to buy into the second round for a talented prospect who was falling in the draft. Big man Jordan Bell was projected as a late first-round pick, and with him on the board at 38th overall, the Warriors offered a record $3.5 million to the Bulls to buy the pick.
Bell has a unique skill set with his ability as a passer and shot blocker when combined with his elite athleticism. He was dominant at times in Las Vegas, posting a 5 x 5 in a 78-76 double-overtime loss against Minnesota. Bell seems like a perfect fit for a team that will need him to bring energy, block shots and move the ball. There’s no pressure for Bell to perform, and he realizes that he can wait and learn from Green while he develops.
“I think I came into the right situation. The right organization, with [Warriors GM] Bob Myers, the executive of the year. The person I try to play like as much as possible [Green] was Defensive Player of the Year,” Bell told NBA.com. “This team just won the world championship, so I think this is set up perfectly for me to succeed.”
Bell is the type of player teams are looking for in today’s new-age NBA with his elite lateral quickness and shot-blocking ability. You would think a team like Chicago — which has hit the reset button — would benefit from this type of talent, but Golden State continues to show it’s light years ahead of other NBA teams by making this move:
Jordan Bell Summer League block compilation. Elite timing rotating as a help defender to protect the rim. pic.twitter.com/bAif2aONZ8
— Joshua Riddell (@Joshua_Riddell) July 14, 2017
The Warriors now have a young cast of talented reserves filled with late picks that should be ready to perform for next season. Jones, McCaw and Bell figure to be a part of their future as bench pieces with upside as they continue to develop. Jones and Bell are both just 22, while McCaw turned 21 during his rookie season — giving the triumvirate plenty of room for growth.
As the Warriors continue to win, they will have young talent waiting in the wings for their time to shine. Bell is the perfect fit as a backup small-ball center to give Green a rest when needed, and should be able to learn from him every single day on how to play that role. If Bell listens closely, he could earn himself a long career at the next level.
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