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How the Golden State Warriors Built a Winning Franchise

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The Golden State Warriors were coming off 12 straight losing seasons before Don Nelson took over as the teams Head Coach in 2006-07 and lead the team to a 90-74 record  over two seasons with a playoff appearance.  Their first since the 1993-94 season, when Don Nelson was the coach. 

A backcourt of Baron Davis and Monta Ellis led the team to a 4-2 series victory over the #1 seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round, before being knocked out by the Utah Jazz in 5 games.

It would be another 4 losing seasons before Golden State returned to the NBA Playoffs, but they were doing their homework and building a future that has led to a NBA Finals appearance. 

The last time the franchise was here, they were crowned World Champions during the 1974-75 NBA season.

It all started in the 2009 NBA Draft, when the team selected Stephen Curry out of Davidson with the 7th overall pick.  The Minnesota Timberwolves could have screwed up everything had they not drafted Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with back to back picks prior to the Warriors slot.  Crazy thing is, Steve Kerr, who was the GM of the Phoenix Suns at the time, could have changed the landscape of the NBA with a massive deal that would have seen Curry dealt in a package to the Suns for Amar'e Stoudemire!

That deal never happened, and instead, Stat signed in New York with the Knicks thanks to a David Lee sign and trade deal that landed him with the Warriors in 2010.

According to a poll over at Golden State of Mind, just 67% of fans loved the Curry pick.  25% of fans voted to draft Curry in a pre draft poll, while another 25% wanted Brandon Jennings.  Jordan Hill and Tyreke Evans were the other favorites.

There was a hiccup in the rebuilding process during the 2010 NBA Draft as the Warriors drafted Ekpe Udoh with the 6th overall pick.  The next guy drafted was Greg Monroe.  So many other good players were drafted after Udoh - Monroe, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Eric Bledsoe.  However, Udoh is the guy they got but he wouldn't last long.  By 2012 he was traded along with Kwame Brown and Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.

The Warriors later flipped Jackson to the San Antonio Spurs for T.J. Ford and Richard Jefferson.  But in that deal also came a first round pick from the Spurs, which turned into Festus Ezeli in the 2012 NBA Draft.

But in between all of that were the selections of Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.

Thompson was selected with the 11th overall pick in 2011.  Looking back, the only other players you could argue the Warriors could have drafted were Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler.  But they went with Thompson and without knowing it, formed the Splash Brothers.

75% of GSOM readers loved the Thompson pick and remember, Ellis had not yet been traded!

With the 7th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Golden State drafted Harrison Barnes.  2012 has not produced many NBA caliber players outside of the top 10 picks so the Warriors did well for themselves taking Barnes over Terrence Ross and Jeremy Lamb but could have added Andre Drummond, who was selected two picks later by the Detroit Pistons.

So now comes into play that Spurs pick the Warriors received in the Stephen Jackson deal, and with the 30th pick, they selected Festus Ezeli.  And 5 picks later, in the 2nd round, they also added Draymond Green!  I never would have guessed that Ezeli was drafted before Green.

All three picks played a major role in the Warriors Western Conference Finals series clinching victory over the Houston Rockets.

Golden State did not have a 2013 first round pick, as it was used in the deal to acquire Marcus Williams from the New Jersey Nets back in 2008. YUCK!  That pick was later used by the Utah Jazz to select Gorgui Dieng, who was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

They also did not have a 2014 1st round pick as it was used to acquire Andre Iguodala prior to the start of the 2013 season.  Rodney Hood was selected with this pick by the Utah Jazz.  The Warriors also gave the Denver Nuggets their 2017 1st round pick.
Iggy has played a huge role during the Warriors run, with 51 assists and just 8 turnovers.

The Warriors also added Marreese Speights via free agency prior to the start of the 2013-14 season and added veteran guards in Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa before this season began.  Speights hasn't played since Game 2 of the 2nd round, but is day to day and could return during the Finals, against his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Where Do They Go From Here

  • Draymond Green is a restricted free agent and has earned himself a huge pay day, that the Warriors may not be able to afford
  • David Lee and Klay Thompson will earn $15 mil next season, before Lee is a free agent and Thompson is owed $16, $17 and $18 mil in the years to follow
  • Bogut, Iguodala and Curry each earn $11 or $12 mil for the next two seasons
  • Will they will willing to extend Harrison Barnes the same year they have to re-sign Curry?

These are all questions nobody is worried about right now.  If they can take down the King, LeBron James, and win the NBA Championship, things will work themselves out.  But if they go down and feel they need to improve the roster, it will be hard to move certain guys and they will have limited cap space to add role players.