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Three players Warriors should stay away from in NBA draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Many believe that the 2021 NBA Draft is a five-man — maybe six-man — draft, and once the first five teams pick, the rest of the lottery teams and teams thereafter will have to comb through whoever still is on the board, but likely won’t find any gems.

After drawing the No. 7 and No. 14 picks in the Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, Warriors general manager Bob Myers pushed back against the notion

“I don’t know if it’s going to be that,” Myers said. “I think I thought that too, but I don’t know if it’s going to be what people think, at least talking to the teams.

“I do know this: I can find 14 players, and I think our group can, that we like. So, if we can find 14, I think we can find seven. And it is really deep … it is, in our opinion, a pretty deep draft.”

Players that could be available in the Warriors’ range include shooting guard James Bouknight from Connecticut, Arkansas shooting guard Moses Moody, small forwards Chris Duarte from Oregon and Franz Wagner from Michigan, swingmen Keon Johnson (Tennessee) and Corey Kispert (Gonzaga), Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell, small forward Jalen Johnson from Duke, and center Kai Jones from Texas. 

There are sure to be at least two players from this group who would be good additions to the Warriors, but it’s also important to ask: who should the Warriors stay away from?

First, let’s preface this by saying none of these players are absolute no-goes for the Warriors. Golden State should draft the best available player on draft night, and any of these players could be just that.

However, some should be lower on their board. 

Jones is one such player. Jones is one of the more high-upside players in this year’s draft, but with the Warriors banking on James Wiseman still reaching his ceiling, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to draft another center who needs development. 

Jones still is working on his defensive awareness and how to read passes, which are similar parts of the game Wiseman struggled with his rookie year. 

The Warriors could use some additional size on their roster next season, however, they would be better off doing that via trade or signing a vet to a minimum rather than drafting another center who won’t be ready to contribute for another few seasons. 

Under the same big-man umbrella is 6-foot-8 Usman Garuba from Real Madrid. Garuba is a great defender — he can defend on the interior and has great instincts as a pick-and-roll defender. The problems come on offense. 

Garuba is interesting because if the Warriors didn’t have Wiseman, perhaps it would make sense for them to draft Garuba. But again, it’s hard to imagine the Warriors drafting centers in back-to-back years, especially when this year’s draft class has so many capable swingmen and wing players — something the Warriors need.

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Like Garuba, Keon Johnson out of Tennessee is a specialty defensive player. But, he’s not the answer for Golden State.

With the seventh pick, the Warriors should not be drafting for fit or a specialty. As I said above, they should go by best available. Once the 14th pick rolls around, that’s when you can start looking for a specific fit. By then, Johnson will probably be off the board, so for that first pick the Warriors have, Johnson shouldn’t be it.

Don’t get me wrong, Johnson’s athletic ability is something to marvel at, and his on-ball defense is good. It’s his offense that puts him in mirky water with his fit for the Warriors. 

Right now, Johnson is practically a non-shooter, shooting just 27 percent from three on 1.8 attempts per game, and he also needs to work on his ball-handling and driving. 

Yes, the Warriors could use more defense, but they can’t have that be in exchange for zero offense. Too many times last season the Warriors had to choose between offense or defense because they didn’t have enough players who could make an impact on both sides of the court. 

The Warriors have a lot riding on this year’s draft, as it’s the first step they’ll be taking to craft the roster they hope will take them back to the playoffs — something they cannot miss out on for a third consecutive year. 

The good news is that Golden State has a lot of possibilities with these two picks, and if the Warriors opt to keep both of them, they need to make sure both rookies can have a positive impact on the team and not be a liability.

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