2011 NBA Draft: Klay Thompson, not Kawhi Leonard, Always On Warriors Radar

Soon after the Warriors drafted Klay Thompson, Warriors GM Larry Riley held a press conference about the newest addition (for now) of Golden State (via Tim Kawakami). Riley re-iterates Thompson’s pedigree several times as to why he was their man. When asked about Kawahi Leonard, a player many are comparing to Gerald Wallace, Riley says he was “never an option”:

RILEY: Leonard was not an option. He was never an option on my list. It’s just probably a difference of opinion with some other people. But I felt that we needed a guy with an NBA skill in Klay Thompson and that’s where we went.

So no disrespect to Kawhi, but he wasn’t somebody that we had considered for that 11th pick. There’s all kinds of scenarios that were flying around. Had we moved back, there was a spot for him.

I, personally, was hoping the Warriors took Leonard given what many people were saying about his toughness, strength, defense, and rebounding abilities. Isn’t this something the Warriors are missing? It’s not as if he was an offensive void or anything either. But Riley adds that Thompson’s versatility, offensively, was why they think he can step in right away:

Not really from the standpoint that we feel that Klay is a player who can play both the 3 and the 2 and if you look at our roster at this stage, we’re going to have some room for a back-up 3. That may be a way for Klay Thompson to get more minutes.

I’m a bit confused by some of the strange signals if not contradictory comments of what the Warriors need and expect from their first round pick. On the one hand, at least Riley is admitting that they’re going to start developing their first round draft picks (something that didn’t exist in the past, see Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Ike Diogu, et al.). But at the same time, they recognize Thompson’s defensive liabilities and are willing to deal with it as it comes up (see rest of press conference).

With that said, are the Warriors still prioritizing a more high-octane offense and defense second?

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