Golden State’s 116-86 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers ensured the Warriors will pick in the top 20 of June’s draft, as The Athletic’s Anthony Slater observed, thus turning the first-round draft pick they would’ve sent to the Brooklyn Nets in Kevin Durant‘s sign-and-trade into a 2025 second-round draft pick.
Hasn’t been in question for months, but…Warriors, with this loss, have officially protected their first round pick. They now instead owe Brooklyn a 2025 second rounder.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 28, 2020
The Warriors fell to 12-47 thanks to Thursday night’s blowout at Chase Center. Golden State technically would’ve had a shot at the NBA’s ninth- or 10th-best record had they won. That shot surely wouldn’t have lasted long, considering the Warriors entered Thursday riding their third seven-game losing streak of the season, but it would have been a shot nonetheless.
Picking in the top 20 was not an inevitability at the time of the trade. The Warriors knew they’d miss Klay Thompson as he rehabbed his torn ACL, but they hoped acquiring Russell to play alongside Curry in Thompson’s absence would keep the team afloat in the playoff race. They weren’t a projected lock to have one of the NBA’s 10 best records by any means, but Golden State was less than a month away from its fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance.
Then Curry broke his hand in the fourth game of the season, sending the Warriors on a certain path to the draft lottery and an eventual Russell (and other pieces) for Andrew Wiggins (and other pieces) swap.
The Nets would have valued a lottery pick, considering the uncertainty surrounding Durant’s return next season from a torn Achilles and the need to surround him and superstar pal Kyrie Irving with affordable talent. The Warriors, instead, will have a pick they can use to rejuvenate an aging core or potentially package with other players and/or picks in pursuit of a star.
Golden State prepared for such a possibility by protecting the pick, but the journey to retaining it couldn’t have been one general manager Bob Myers envisioned when Durant left the Bay Area last summer.
Warriors officially keep 2020 first-round pick after loss to Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
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