Klay Thompson and Jeremy Tyler seems to be polar opposites. One is (relatively) polished and one needs to be polished with buckets of wax. Do these contradictory moves make any sense? With the new Warriors regime in place, the Warriors future has never been this crystal clear.
The Warriors seem to make the "safe" pick by taking Klay Thompson at #11, an allegedly NBA-ready swingman who can already step in and hit jumpers. But they did the unthinkable (for the Warriors) by the end the night. By buying the the rights to Jeremy Tyler, paying $2 million to the Charlotte Bobcats (thank you Rod Higgins connection yet again), did the unthinkable under the Chris Cohan and Don Nelson regimes. The new Lacob regime was risky last night. And Tyler is about as risky as they come in the NBA, especially given how much the Warriors were willing to pay for someone who's most recent highlights are hitting jumpers in a distant Japanese professional league. But these seemingly contradictory moves by the Warriors last night reflects the many minds and pieces that make up Voltron Warriors when it comes to decision making.
As Tim Kawakami reports, Bob Myers, new GM in training, already knew Jeremy Tyler since the agency Myers used to work for still represents Tyler. Seems like Myers pushed this, but wanted make sure the rest of the folks, namely Coach Mark Jackson, were on board.
Tyler not only symbolizes what Kawakami sees as the huge departure from the previously fiscally conservative Chris Cohan regime. But the kind of risk taking and convention of a pick like Klay shows how decision making processes will be by committee and that every person's voice will be heard. In a way, Thompson and Tyler are on the complete opposite of the spectrum and spending $2 million just for the rights for Tyler is quite a financial commitment for a second round pick the fiscally conservative turn in the NBA.
Coming into the draft, Thompson was already known to be an accomplished shooter, hitting around 40% from college 3-point range during this 3 years at Washington State. In his junior year, he led the Pac-10 in scoring and set an Pac-10 tournament record by scoring 43 points in a single game against University of Washington. As they recounted repeatedly as Thompson was drafted, his father, the #1 overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft, demonstrates his basketball pedigree and by extension basketball IQ. That makes two years in a row the Warriors have taken a player whose dad once played in the NBA. Picking a player who is the son of a former player, when translated in draft-day decision making, in large part means a safe pick or something that is common sense. The apple can't fall too far from the tree, right? Like father, like son? There are probably a few more cliches to help explain the relationship, but I think you get the point.
Also, Thompson seemed conventional too. Picking scorer with sub par defense reminded me of the previous Warriors regime that relied on outscoring opponents. So, in that sense, Thompson was not such a wild pick in the context of the Warriors draft history and recent style of play.
The Warriors seemed to swing for the fences...or rather outer space, with Tyler. I won't recount Tyler's history of immaturity and his strange travels to the NBA present through his less than conventional international basketball playing past. The Warriors made quite a risk paying $2 million dollars for a player who mistaken Nate McMillan for an educational institution. But what I want to focus on is the financial investment the Warriors have already committed and why Tyler might be the more exciting pick in the long run and what this actually says about the team being assembled, so far, this summer.
Since Chris Webber's departure in the mid nineteen nineties, the Warriors have failed repeatedly at finding a big man to play ultimate safety or all-time defense around four non-defending players. The last 15+ years show a history of blunders filled with questionable development practices by the coaching staff (see Don Nelson's strange motivational strategies) and background checks on health and maturity (see Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, Ike Diogu, Patrick O'Bryant, etc. etc.). The Warriors just can't development big men. During Nelson's tenure, he managed to alienate most of his "stars" and many of his young talent. Randolph, Wright, and O'Bryant were repeatedly frustrated by their uneven playing time night-to-night and Nelson's public rants about their poor play one night and horrendous activity the next.
But the willy nilly Nelson antics are gone and the front office has been stacked with movers and shakers of the past, present, and, hopefully, future. There is a wide set of skills from all spaces of the NBA who all have their own style and culture to instill on this troubled franchise. West brings a culture of winning championships AND building championship teams. Myers represents the future of the NBA with his close relations to players as a former agent. Travis Schenk has had a lot of success as a scout of NBDL talent, bringing in players such as Reggie Williams. The Warriors clearly are trying to cover all the bases when it comes to building a team of legitimately recognized decision makers that players trust and front offices' respect.
And the same could be said for the coaching staff. New lead assistant Mike Malone is known around the league for his defensive strategies and stories of Mark Jackson shows a no-nonsense kind of guy who has the wins and stats to be a person that players feel, so far, that they could learn from. Together, Malone and Jackson represent a public face of "discipline" that perhaps Don Nelson didn't necessarily exude with all his cryptic mind games with his players.
With these kinds of people in place, Tyler has a chance to break the cycle of underachieving big men to enter the Warriors franchise through the draft. Will he? Possibly. But what makes the Tyler a fascinating pick is that there is a sense of accountability, discipline, and consistency from the franchise, top down, that could begin the stability for a franchise that was neither here nor there (in terms of wins and in any fans imagination of their future). With the current set of people managing egos and emotions, Tyler has multiple people to report to but, more importantly, highly respected bosses who can affect how the rest of the league thinks about him. For Tyler, he should be scared for his career if he wants to have a future in the NBA and I could see that affecting his approach to the game in positive ways. But having Myers in Tyler's corner also shows that the Warriors care about player mental development, too. The Warriors are taking a gamble, but they also look primed to finally develop big men.
Tyler is as raw as any of the Europeans in the top 10 as far as unpolishedness on both ends of the floor. But the Warriors buying his rights shows, perhaps, a dramatic shift in the Warriors front office and a radical departure (relative to the Warriors administrations of the last 20 or so years) in how they're going develop players. It's too soon to say whether this will pay off and if this experiment of GM by committee -- Lacob having the final say -- will cause more problems than Lacob hopes to solve. Either way, the Warriors played it safe, but showed signs of future that is unlike anything we've seen in while.
In Charles Jenkins, the Warrior got an interesting strong point guard whose stats at mid-major Hofstra University show an efficient player. In this documentary (see below), Jenkins paints himself as a guy with great perspective on the profession and love for basketball. Also intriguing is that at 6'3, Jenkins made nearly 52% of his field goals, 42% from college 3-point land, and 82% of his free throws his senior year. He also posted a relatively impressive 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. While his stats may show him to be a ball dominate player, in the documentary, Jenkins repeats some advice he received as a kid about the necessity of learning how to change the game without the ball in your hands. Speedy Claxton, former Hofstra Star and Warrior point guard and now Warrior scout, allegedly had something to do with this draft pick and, apparently, Jenkins is some kind of celebrity in the New York metropolitan area being born in New York City and all.
22 - The Charles Jenkins Story (via jmannltd)
None of these players necessarily fill a need immediately nor do they stand-out as eye-popping picks or sleepers. But they show an unorthodox approach to the draft (for the Warriors), picking players that don't necessarily fill a need. And in some ways, this confusion and ambiguity of what they're going to do with these players is somewhat exciting.