NBA rumors: Warriors higher on six NBA draft prospects than most teams

The Warriors are guaranteed to have a top-five pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft. But this year’s selection process is unlike any in the league’s history, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the league to suspend the season on Mar. 11 and pushed the draft from June back to October. Travel restrictions around the world also have kept teams from being able to do any in-person evaluating or face-to-face interviews with prospects.

Due to there being little so-called “groupthink” regarding how teams are ranking prospects, big boards have the chance to vary wildly from front office to front office. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau spoke to league sources and reported Saturday that there are six prospects who the Warriors probably have higher on their board than most clubs.

SF Saddiq Bey, Villanova

Bey generally is seen by many draft pundits as being an end-of-the-lottery selection at best, but Letourneau writes “sources suggest that some within the Warriors’ organization view him as an early lottery-caliber prospect.”

The 6-foot-8 small forward provides the intriguing 3-and-D mold that so many teams covet, and he was the winner of the Julius Erving Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate small forward.

Bey would be an easy fit into the Warriors system, as he plays a very unselfish brand of basketball and offers versatility on both ends of the court. Bey likely only would be selected by the Warriors if Golden State trades out of the top five. 

“According to league sources, some Warriors decision-makers believe that Bey is an NBA-ready wing with a chance to become a franchise building block,” Letourneau continued.

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SG/SF Devin Vassell, Florida State

Vassell is another wing who shows flashes of elite play on both ends of the court. A tenacious defender, Vassell presents a nearly 7-foot wingspan that can cover up most passing lanes for opponents.

The former Seminole shot 41.7 percent from three over two collegiate seasons, and according to Letourneau, Golden State would consider drafting Vassell in the “bottom half of the top-five.”

SF/PF Patrick Williams, Florida State

Another Seminole, Williams is one of the younger forwards available in this year’s class, as he won’t turn 19 until August.

Letourneau says the Warriors think he could have lottery potential but likely wouldn’t select him without a significant trade back.

PF Jalen Smith, Maryland

The Warriors have been reported to be seeking a big man in the first round, and Smith was a big-time college player for the Terrapins. 

Smith averaged a double-double as a sophomore while shooting 36.8 percent from 3-point range. Golden State reportedly sees Smith as another potential late-lottery pick.

[RELATED: Ranking Warriors’ best win-now options in first round]

PF Mamadi Diakite, Virginia

Diakite was a national champion at Virginia in 2019, and was the anchor of one of the nation’s top defenses for four seasons. 

The 6-foot-9 forward is projected as a second-round pick at best in many mock drafts, but the Warriors reportedly view Diakite as a first-round talent. If they end up with a pick later in the first round outside of the lottery, Diakite could be their man.

PF Borisa Simanic, Serbia

Simanic isn’t expected to be selected by many pundits, but Letourneau says the Warriors view him as one of their favorite international prospects from this year’s class.

The 6-foot-11 forward has had a difficult time getting on the court with his professional team in Belgrade, but he could be a project Golden State could nab in the second round and allow to develop overseas for a year before seeing if he’s worth bringing onto the active roster.

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