Written By: Parker Lovett
Approaching a massive luxury tax bill that could cost in the 400 million dollar a year range, the Golden State Warriors have to be money conscious in every personnel move they make going forward. The luxury tax was established to penalize teams that overspend the salary cap, and it depends on the dollars a team exceeds the salary cap and whether they have been in the luxury tax for multiple years prior. For the 2017-18 season the luxury tax is set at close to 120 million, and the Warriors will be in the luxury tax with the second highest payroll in the league at 133 million.
With Klay Thompson’s contract up in two seasons, a max contract for Klay will drag the Warriors deeper into the luxury tax, and set the team up for the punitive repeater tax. Ownership has been very upfront with their willingness to spend to keep the championship core together, but at what point does it get too expensive?
The Warriors cap situation makes finding and developing young talent a priority for Bob Myers. Players on rookie contracts are important because they provide controllable assets at below market rate, making them appealing for luxury bound teams like the Warriors.
As you may have guessed, the San Antonio Spurs are a perfect model for the Warriors going forward. They have maintained their success by drafting and developing young players, notably Kawhi Leonard. Drafted in 20 11, Leonard has allowed San Antonio to stay at the top of the Western Conference despite legend Tim Duncan retiring in 2016.
Certainly, the Warriors would take the Spurs level of success over the next decade, but this isn’t to say that any of these Under 23 Warriors will become Kawhi Leonard. Nevertheless, as a continuation of our Emerging Stars series, lets take a look at how the Warriors current crop of youngsters project and what their role will be in 2017-18.
Patrick McCaw – Drafted 38th and Acquired for 2.4 M (2016)
Warriors assistant Bruce Fraser was asked to describe Mccaw, he told the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Versatility, length, character,Pat has all those things.”
Mccaw, the summer league standout, showed promise last season in his 71 games. He has been praised up and down the organization, and he even made some noise in the playoffs, including a start in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors love Mccaw’s potential to develop into a “3 and D” player, with an ability to defend all three wing positions. Playing with so many superstars Mccaw was sometimes hesitant to shoot, but he showed an intelligent offensive game with good off ball movement and passing.
Finding minutes for Mccaw will be tricky for Kerr with Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Nick Young all in line for more minutes then the second year player out of UNLV. It will be important for the Warriors to evaluate the promising Mccaw, especially with him set to hit restricted free agency after next season.
Damian Jones – Drafted 30th overall (2016)
If not for a torn pectoral muscle suffered during the pre-draft process, Damian Jones likely wouldn’t have fallen to the Warriors with the last pick in the first round. Jones is a springy athlete capable of producing highlight dunks and blocks.
He also has a good looking jump shot and has rebounded well in his limited exposure to professional basketball. Jones really struggles with foul trouble, but as he learns the NBA game hopefully he can stay on the court more.
The Vanderbilt product appeared in 10 NBA games for the Warriors last season and 31 for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the D League (now G League). His results were inconsistent as he recovered from his injury, but he progressed and was named the D League Player of the Month in April. Overall, Damian Jones averaged 11 points, 7 rebounds, and two blocks in 26 minutes per game.
The 2016 30th overall pick had an up and down summer league this year in Vegas. In 22 minutes the 22 year old Jones averaged 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks during the 6 games he played in the desert.
While I understand the resigning of Javale this offeseason, my one hesistation with it would be that it could block the minutes for Jones. The goal for this season should be to see what you have in Damian Jones, especially with Zaza, Javale, and David West all on one year deals.
Jordan Bell – Drafted 38th Overall, Acquired for 3.5 M (2017)
Bob Myers, for the second year in a row, bought a second round pick for an astonishing 3.5 Million, selecting Jordan Bell from Oregon. Ownership and the front office felt that Bell’s defensive versatility fit the team concept and was well worth the cost.
Bell has drawn comparisons to Draymond Green, and he gave us a glimpse why with a summer league record for rebounds in a game with 16. Oh he also had a unique 5×5 game (5 + points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals).
It will be fascinating to see how big man minutes are distributed next season, but as long as Bell is passable on offense, his defense should get him some run against smaller lineups. I could see him playing a James Michael McAdoo role guarding stretch 5’s or 4’s. While we haven’t seen Bell play against NBA competition, from what I’ve read it seems that the perception is that Bell, who played three seasons in college, is more ready to play than Damian Jones is at this point.
All in all, props to two time executive of the year Bob Myers for using his resources and commitment to developing the back end of the Warriors roster with cheap young talent. I’m excited for the upcoming Warriors season for so many reasons, but seeing the maturity of our recent draft picks is definitely one of them, even in limited action.