The Golden State Warriors were one of the best teams in the league decades ago, just before becoming pretty much irrelevant and struggling for years and years until the almighty Steve Kerr Dubs.
Golden State is the ultimate proof that building through the Draft and good scouting actually work, as most of their core has come via Draft albeit for the great reinforcements they landed like Durant or Iguodala.
Nonetheless, they haven’t always been as prolific as they’ve been lately with the Draft. And today, we’re going to let you know about the top 5 players they could’ve landed but taken someone else instead.
1978 NBA Draft
Purvis Short (5th) - Larry Bird (6th)
You know when you’re so close to glory but you wind up striking out, just like Charlie Brown when kicking the football? Well, that’s exactly what happened with the Warriors when they got Purvis Short at 5th, as they landed a versatile shooting guard that could also play both forward spots that was good, but not great at all, and never truly helped the team compete.
On the other hand, they could’ve taken Larry Legend instead, and they would’ve had the best shooter of that era before having the best shooter of all times in Curry. Bird was huge in the clutch, an underrated defender, a solid scorer and a guy that could do a little bit of everything.
1983 NBA Draft
Russell Cross (6th) - Karl Malone (13th)
When you’re drafting a 1st round pick, you’re expecting, at least, durability out of him, especially if you take him as high as 6th. Nonetheless, when the Warriors drafted Russell Cross in 1983, they were only able to have in on court for a grand total of 7.9 minutes per game, as the big man retired after just 45 mediocre appearances in the NBA.
Sadly for them, they would’ve fared way better had they gone with Karl ‘The Mailman’ Malone, the guy that always delivered. Malone was such a dominant and physical presence down low that he was never going to be denied of a bucket while owning both sides of the glass.
1995 NBA Draft
Joe Smith (1th) - Kevin Garnett (5th)
With the 1st overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft, the Warriors drafted Joe Smith out of North Carolina State, as he was supposed to provide a much-needed versatility to cover both forward spots and even play as an undersized center. A couple of seasons later, they just traded him away.
Obviously, they could’ve done a lot better if they had chosen Kevin Garnett, a guy that could’ve been considered as the greatest power forward ever if it wasn’t for the mediocre support cast he had for most of his career. As dominant in the offense as he was in defense, Garnett is one of the best two-way players ever.
1996 NBA Draft
Todd Fuller (11th) - Kobe Bryant (13th)
Back in 1996, the Warriors were entitled with the 11th pick, so they used it to fill the gap they had down low by drafting Todd Fuller, a big man that was supposed to become a dominant two-way player but wind up merely averaging 4 points per game and leaving the league after 5 seasons.
Sadly for them, they could’ve been way better off had they chosen Kobe Bryant, a young man that inexplicably slipped all the way to the 13th spot. Bryant winds up being the best scorer and player of his class and one of the best 5 shooting guards ever, and the closest to Jordan we’ll ever witness.
1998 NBA Draft
Vince Carter (5th) - Dirk Nowitzki (9th)
Well, the Golden State Warriors didn’t quite mess up here, as they got Vince Carter to trade him for Chris Webber, one of the most prolific talents of that Draft class, and a big man that was perfectly suited to dominate basketball with his skill set. Nonetheless, they just traded him again one year later.
Instead, they should’ve gone with Dirk Nowitzki, a big man out of Europe that completely changed the way the power forward position was played thanks to his great shooting skills. Despite his lack of athleticism and handles, Dirk became one of the best scorers in the history of the game, netting over 30 thousand career points so far.