Golden State Warriors Draft Two Players, Have High Hopes for Both

Jan 9, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores center Damian Jones (30) after fouling out against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores center Damian Jones (30) after fouling out against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors made two selections in Thursday night’s draft, and they have high hopes for both.

More from Golden Gate Sports

The NBA Draft signaled the beginning of what is sure to be another wild offseason, and the Golden State Warriors made two selections on Thursday night. The Warriors had to wait until the end of the first round to make their initial selection of the night, and selected center Damian Jones, a former Vanderbilt Commodore, when it was finally their time to make a pick.

Jones, a 6’10”, 250-pounder from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, played 99 games over three season at Vanderbilt, and averaged 13.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor. He has nearly a 7’4″ wingspan (everybody loves wingspan).

In his freshman season, the 2013-2014 campaign, Jones was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman Team. The next season, he was on the All-SEC First Team and the All-SEC Defensive Team. In his junior year, he named to the All-SEC First Team by conference coaches, and the All-SEC Second Team by the AP.

The Warriors have a need for a big man, exacerbated by Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, James Michael McAdoo, and Anderson Varejao all hitting free agency. Upgrading the interior defense should be a priority for Golden State, and Jones can certainly help with that. He is a strong defender, able to protect the rim and send away shots. He led Vanderbilt in blocks during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 season, and finishing second in 2015-2016. He can even step out and defend around the perimeter on occasion.

Jones isn’t a threat from three-point range (hitting one of his eight attempts in college), but he can extend the floor a bit by making long-range two-pointers with some consistency. But his best offensive game starts underneath the rim, and having him take long jumpers shouldn’t be a priority.

The 20-year-old (very young for his college experience) underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral early in June, which will keep him out of Summer League action, but the belief is that he’ll be good to go when the regular season opens, or soon thereafter.

With Jones now in the mix, that could spell the end of another Vanderbilt center’s time with the Warriors. Festus Ezeli, the 30th overall pick in 2012 by the Warriors, is a restricted free agent, and has a very similar skill-set to the one Jones is projected to have in the NBA. Nothing is certain, but it seems like Ezeli’s start-and-stop-and-start-and-stop again time with the Warriors is just about come to an end.

The Warriors weren’t slated to have another pick on Thursday, but they swung a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks to get another selection, 38th overall, sending $2.4 million Milwaukee’s way. With the pick, the Warriors picked UNLV shooting guard Patrick McCaw.

More from Golden State Warriors

McCaw stands about 6’7″ and weighs 180 pounds, and played 65 games over two season at UNLV. In his career, he averaged 12.2 points per game, including leading the Running Rebels with 14.7 points in the 2015-2016 season. He also grabbed 4.2 rebounds, dished out 3.3 assists, and recorded two steals per contest. He was Second-Team All-Mountain West Conference after 2015-2016, and conference All-Defensive Team.

The UNLV product gives the Warriors a little more depth at guard, covering their butts a bit in case they can’t bring back free agents Ian Clark, Leandro Barbosa, and Brandon Rush. If (maybe when) they don’t bring back Harrison Barnes, McCaw also has the length to provide some depth at forward as well.

Warriors’ general manager Bob Myers held a press conference, and he was pleased by the two picks. Scouts were pleased as well , telling Myers “if you told us in the middle of the year that we’d get Jones and McCaw, we’d be thrilled”.

After the draft had concluded, the Warriors also added an undrafted free agent, signing Maryland center Robert Carter. Carter played two season with Georgia Tech, averaging 10.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 54 games. After sitting out for a season, he played with the Terps in 2015-2016, and scored 12.3 points, grabbed 6.9 rebounds, and blocked 1.3 shots per game in 36 contests.

Next: Warriors: A Look Towards the Offseason

Mamadou Ndiaye, the 7’6″ Senagelese center from UC-Irvine, will also reportedly join the Warriors’ Summer League team.