Warriors take low-risk, high-reward gamble with Baldwin Jr.


SAN FRANCISCO – With Draymond Green in need of an understudy and Kevon Looney dipping into free agency, the Warriors had an opportunity to draft E.J. Liddell, a 21-year-old whose defensive ability has elements of each.

They instead opted for another teenager, using the 28th overall pick in the NBA Draft Thursday to select Patrick Baldwin Jr., a long, wiry wing unlike anyone else on the Golden State roster.

Baldwin, 19, comes to the Bay Area as a 6-foot-10, 220-pound bundle of talent whose fall from five-star recruit – with offers from Duke, North Carolina and Michigan – to mediocre freshman at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee stamps him as one of the biggest question marks of the 2022 draft.

He’s a shooter who shot 26.6 percent beyond the arc.

He’s a scorer who shot 34.4 percent from the field.

He was a prep superstar who struggled mightily at a mid-major school where his father was the head coach.

Baldwin was hampered by an ankle injury, which might have affected his poor showing at the combine. The abysmal 26.5-inch vertical leap. The bottom-five rankings in three-quarter court sprint and lane agility. Even coming out of Hamilton High School in Wisconsin, he was considered an unexceptional athlete.

Here’s a list of NBA comps and comments connected to Baldwin:

“Harrison Barnes or Jabari Parker” – Draftkings.com.

“Jalen Johnson/Brian Cook” – NBAdraft.net.

“Poor man’s Michael Porter Jr.” – NBAdraftroom.com.

RELATED: Dubs pick Baldwin Jr. already channeling Steph with lookaway 3s

Underwhelming, to be sure. There is nothing to indicate Baldwin is ready to contribute to an NBA team – or that the Warriors expect him to next season.

And yet, Baldwin has the physical profile of the prototypical stretch-4 and potential stretch-5. His 7-foot-1 wingspan should help overcome his average athleticism in which case he could develop into a functional defender.

This is about the Warriors rolling the dice with a late first-round pick. About realizing Baldwin is an intriguing project, aiming high and hoping for a payoff in a few years.

Liddell, who went to the Pelicans at No. 41, would have been the safer pick, a ready-now power forward option with the potential to be a defensive stalwart. His upside likely is limited.

The Warriors consider Baldwin’s upside is worth investing in. He has star potential. He has bust potential. The low-risk, high-reward dynamic was too tempting to resist.

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