The Warriors have had tremendous success since 2014, winning 3 NBA titles with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green as the backbones of the team. Acquiring Kevin Durant made them unstoppable and they have run riot over the league for 4 straight years.
But the Warriors haven’t always made first-class decisions to put them in positions to succeed. There have been some truly low moments for the Warriors franchise, mainly coming in the NBA Draft. The Warriors managed to draft the wrong players and made some very big mistakes.
Here are the worst draft choices made by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA.
6. 2010 NBA Draft
(6th pick) Ekpe Udoh over (10th pick) Paul George
The Warriors went for a big man in the 2010 Draft, opting for Ekpe Udoh who averages 3.5 PPG for his career. Clearly, Udoh did not move the needle in the league and has always been a role player at the most. Passing up on an All-Star like Paul George has to hurt.
George is averaging 19.9 PPG over his career and has been one of the best two-way players in the game for a few years now. Paul George would have certainly made the Warriors a good team to build upon once they started getting their other draft picks right.
5. 1983 NBA Draft
(6th pick) Russell Cross over (14th pick) Clyde Drexler
With the sixth pick in the 1983 Draft, the Warriors opted to draft Russell Cross. Beyond having a pretty cool name, Cross didn’t do much of anything in the league. The 6’10” center averaged 3.7 PPG in his first and only season in the league. Obviously, Drexler’s career was the complete opposite story.
Drexler was one of the best scorers in the league with 20.4 PPG and one of the top-10 shooting guards to have ever played. Drexler’s high-flying style and offensive dominance would have translated well for the Warriors, who missed out on a chance to draft an all-time great.
4. 1997 NBA Draft
(8th pick) Adonal Foyle over (9th pick) Tracy McGrady
The Warriors had the 8th pick in the draft in 1997, only to miss out on McGrady who was drafted 9th by the Raptors. Foyle, a role player at the center position, had a decent career but wasn’t a star by any means. He was mostly remembered for his time with the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors quite fittingly.
T-Mac might have had a career cut short due to injury, but he would have been a fantastic choice for the Warriors. They would have got the best scorer in the league in his early 20’s, as he averaged a career-high 32.1 PPG in 2002. Even as he aged, McGrady was a superstar offensive player who could pass and shoot. It’s a shame we never got to see him in a Warriors jersey.
3. 1995 NBA Draft
(1st pick) Joe Smith over (5th pick) Kevin Garnett
The Warriors missed out big time with this one. They had the first pick in the NBA Draft but did not draft KG. What a disaster.
Joe Smith had a pretty long career, playing 16 seasons and averaging 10.9 PPG. His best years came with the Warriors in his second season, where he averaged 18.7 PPG. He was good, but he wasn’t Kevin Garnett.
When it comes to pure intensity and dominance on both ends of the floor, Garnett ranks among the best ever in his position. Garnett has career averages of 17.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG which, making 15 All-Star teams and making the Hall of Fame. As an original stretch four and a leader on the floor, the Warriors dropped the ball big time on this one.
Kevin Garnett was a superstar throughout his career, and he was good enough to win an MVP as a member of the Wolves.
2. 1978 NBA Draft
(5th pick) Purvis Short over (6th pick) Larry Bird
Short was not a bad draft by any means, because he had a very good career that included a great season in 1984 where he averaged 28.0 PPG for the Warriors. But had they remained patient for one more pick, they would have got Larry Bird who went 6th in the Draft.
Obviously, missing out on Larry Bird is one of the worst mistakes the Warriors have ever made. Bird is a top-two small forward and one of the most iconic players ever. Bird changes the league in terms of popularity and impact, and his iconic green Celtics Jersey is synonymous with his name. If the Warriors got it right, Bird would have been their symbol of greatness for eternity and even delivered them championships.
He would have made the Warriors instant contenders but the Warriors dropped the ball with this one. Bird would have easily been the number one biggest mistake the Warriors made, except that the franchise missed out on one more Hall of Fame player.
1. 1996 NBA Draft
(11th pick) Todd Fuller over (13th pick) Kobe Bryant
Without a doubt, the biggest disaster the Warriors made was not drafting Kobe Bryant. Many teams passed up on drafting Kobe, but that doesn’t make it any less acceptable for the Warriors.
Only one can imagine how Kobe would have changed the Warriors franchise. Kobe played over 15 years at a superstar level, while selling out arenas everywhere he goes. Kobe was a global icon similar to Larry Bird but was extremely athletic and gifted in his skillset. Kobe won 5 rings with the Lakers, and he would have delivered at least a few for the Warriors.
Out of all the disappointments the Warriors have made in their franchise history, this draft pick will forever be their biggest one especially since Fuller only averaged 3.7 PPG over 5 seasons.