NBA Draft

What Warriors can learn from history of No. 19 overall pick

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The Warriors’ first order of business heading into the 2023 NBA Draft is done. Mike Dunleavy Jr. was named the Warriors’ next general manager on Friday, replacing a legend in Bob Myers.

Myers previously announced his decision to step down after 12 years in the front office, one as assistant GM and 11 as Golden State’s lead GM, and his contract concludes June 30 -- eight days after Dunleavy’s first draft.

That, as in the draft, will be Dunleavy’s first major task in his new role, though that area of roster building isn’t completely new to 42-year-old.

Dunleavy was hired as a pro scout by the Warriors in September of 2018 and promoted to assistant GM less than a year later. He has had his hand in draft decisions in the past, but the volume of his voice in the room now is being cranked to completely new levels. There is something even newer for Dunleavy and the Warriors as a whole: Having the No. 19 overall pick in Thursday night’s draft.

OK, I’ll correct myself. The Philadelphia Warriors did own the No. 19 pick three times, taking Mel Payton in 1951, Bob Schafer in 1955 and Jim Hockaday in 1959. Apologies to the Hockaday family, the last of an extinct Warrior.

There’s no Golden State Warriors history with the pick to look back at, so what does the history of the slot tell us overall?

Only one player taken as the 19th selection in the draft wound up being a Hall of Fame player, and the Warriors can’t cross their fingers that they’re about to find the next Nate “Tiny” Archibald. However, another Hall of Famer was once the No. 19 pick in the draft, and he did eventually become a Warrior: Don Nelson, who was inducted as a coach in 2012.

By win shares, per Basketball Reference, the five most valuable No. 19 picks in NBA history are, in order, Rod Strickland (85.8 win shares), Archibald (83.4 win shares), Zach Randolph (81.1 win shares), Nelson (74.6 win shares) and Tobias Harris (64.2 win shares). Those five players make up two Hall of Famers – one as a player and one as a coach – eight All-Star Game trips and eight All-NBA honors.

The next batch of five players ranking sixth through 10th all-time in win shares for the draft slot are Jeff Teague (52.4 win shares), John Paxson (36.3 win shares), Dee Brown (33.4 win shares), John Collins (32.3 win shares) and Jamaal Magloire (27.7 win shares). They make up two All-Star appearances, two All-Rookie teams and one damn cool dunk.

Over the last 10 years, the pick has produced solid players like Collins, Kevin Huerter, Saddiq Bey, Malik Beasley and Gary Harris. If the Warriors keep their pick and their choice turns out to be like any of the above names, Dunleavy and the rest of the franchise’s decision makers more than did their job. The pick in the last decade also has been used on players like Sergey Karasev, Jerian Grant and Luka Samanic.

RELATED: Kris Murray all for rivalry with Keegan if Warriors draft him

Kai Jones, picked by the New York Knicks in 2021 and traded to the Charlotte Hornets one day later hasn’t produced much yet, and it’s not fair one bit trying to break down Jake LaRavia’s future after the Memphis Grizzlies called his name at No. 19 last year.

The Warriors have found recent success in the draft following the lottery, adding Kevon Looney (No. 30 overall) in 2015 and Jordan Poole (No. 28) in 2019. Even though years of scouting are involved, tireless hours breaking down film, analytics and interviews, the draft is a blind man’s guessing game. History shows the same to be true with where the Warriors currently sit, and all Dunleavy can do is hope he gets off on the right foot and avoids failing at basketball’s biggest gamble.

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