The Golden State Warriors are one of the most renowned and accomplished franchises in NBA history, capturing 7 NBA championships and sporting some of the greatest players of all time. Of course, the 7th NBA title was added following the 2022 Finals when the Warriors took care of business against an up-and-coming Boston Celtics squad. The likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have entered NBA lore for their 4th championship together, and each of them is clearly one of the best Warriors players of all time. But where would they rank among the 10 best draft picks by the franchise?
It is time to go back through history to discover the best draft selections by the Golden State Warriors franchise. There have been some excellent franchise selections, dating back to the 1950s and pushing forward until the late 2000s and early 2010s. The modern Warriors stars will immediately come to mind, but there might have been some names that could have gone forgotten. Without further ado, here are the 10 best draft picks in Golden State Warriors history.
Latrell Sprewell - No. 24 Pick (1992 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 20.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Latrell Sprewell was a bundle of talent as soon he arrived in the NBA and had one of the most versatile skill sets we have seen from a 6’5” small forward. Thanks to his ability to handle the ball, score, and defend, Latrell was a steal with the No. 24 pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. The forward ended up making 3 All-Star Teams with the franchise and had some interesting highlights during his stint with the Warriors.
But he just misses out on the top-10 list because he never had the championship success of other players despite averaging at least 20 PPG 4 times with the Warriors and having the best individual performances of his career with the franchise. Sprewell would continue his excellent play as a member of the New York Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves, although he never quite reached the heights he did with the Warriors.
Gilbert Arenas - No. 31 Pick (2001 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 15.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Gilbert Arenas blossomed into a superstar with the Washington Wizards during the middle of his career, but he was actually drafted by the Golden State Warriors. The point guard fell to No. 31, and considering his elite talent as an offensive player; he should have been taken in the top 10. Nonetheless, the point guard averaged 10.9 PPG in his rookie season before taking a leap to average 18.3 PPG in his second season.
Arenas would join the Wizards in his third season and would make the All-Star Team by his fourth season. The point guard was showing signs of stardom in his early days with Golden State because his explosiveness and shooting ability were off the charts. The days of “Agent Zero” would soon commence, and the Warriors would have benefitted had Arenas stayed with the franchise longer than two years.
Penny Hardaway - No. 3 Pick (1993 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: N/A
The great Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was actually drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the 1993 NBA Draft, not by the Orlando Magic. Golden State took him No. 3 overall and traded him to the Orlando Magic for Chris Webber (who was taken No. 1 overall), effectively ending a chance for the Magic to have an elite frontcourt pairing of Webber and Shaquille O’Neal. But Penny was not a bad choice by the Magic because he averaged 16.0 PPG and 6.6 APG en route to an All-Rookie Team appearance.
Hardaway would go on to make 4 straight All-Star Teams with the Magic and also help Shaquille O’Neal guide the team to the NBA Finals in 1995, marking an excellent career that was cut short due to injuries. Chris Webber lasted one season with Golden State before joining the Washington Bullets the following year. No one knows how Penny would have turned out with the Warriors, but he was still a safe selection at No. 3 overall.
10. Tim Hardaway - No. 14 Pick (1989 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 19.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 9.3 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Thanks to his elite ball-handling and offensive stardom, Tim Hardaway has to be considered one of the best point guards in Golden State Warriors history. The 6’0” player was a speedy point guard that had elite offensive powers that guided the Golden State Warriors to consistent playoff seeding in the Western Conference. Hardaway made three-straight All-Star Teams with the Warriors starting in his second NBA season. That was after Hardaway made the All-Rookie Team with the Warriors by averaging 14.7 PPG and 8.7 APG.
Hardaway was spectacular for the Warriors, and his numbers were All-Star worthy considering how the team functioned offensively. With “Tim Bug” handling the rock, offensive star Chris Mullin had a ton of open looks as he averaged the best numbers of his career alongside the point guard. The modern-day Warriors today are an exceptional offensive team, but Hardaway’s squad could have given them a run for their money had they played today. The point guard was a talented player coming into the league, but the Warriors got a steal with the No. 14 pick.
9. Nate Thurmond - No. 3 Pick (1963 NBA Draft)
San Francisco/Golden State Warriors Statistics: 17.4 PPG, 16.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.9 BPG
Nathe Thurmond was a defensive monster who made his name by protecting the rim with vigor and force. His rebounding numbers were insane to the naked eye and the All-Star big man had 5 straight seasons of averaging over 18 RPG between 1965-1969 and is one of the most legendary defensive players ever. Thurmond’s teammates rave about his impact because he was one of the greatest paint protectors ever, and luckily for the Warriors, he did the majority of his damage with the franchise that took him No. 3 overall in the 1963 NBA Draft.
The big man made the All-Rookie Team and made 7 All-Star Team appearances with the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors. The center never averaged under 10 RPG for the Warriors in any season and averaged over 20 PPG for 5 straight seasons between 1968-1972. Thurmond was a capable scorer inside the paint at 6’11”, although his shot-blocking, rim protection, and rebounding were his greatest strengths. The All-Star center averaged his career-high in RPG during the 1968 season (22.0 RPG).
8. Robert Parish - No. 8 Pick (1976 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 13.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.8 BPG
Robert Parish is not only a Hall of Fame center with 9 All-Star appearances and 4 NBA titles, but he had an incredibly long career. Many might not know this, but Parish was originally drafted by the Golden State Warriors before he completed 14 seasons with the Boston Celtics. The center played a whopping 21 seasons with 4 different franchises, but he was taken No. 8 overall in 1976 and completed 4 seasons with the Warriors. As a defensive center with a capable offensive game, Parish certainly made his mark felt with the franchise that drafted him, putting up solid two-way numbers.
Robert Parish had a slow rookie season, averaging 9.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.2 BPG, but he started picking up in his second season by putting up 12.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG. The center put up at least 17 PPG over the last two seasons of his career with the Warriors before making 7 straight All-Star Teams with the Boston Celtics the following season. The big man had an incredibly long career, and the Warriors showed a great hunch by taking him in the draft even though he only played 4 years with the team.
7. Chris Mullin - No. 7 Pick (1985 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 20.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Arguably the original Golden State Warriors marksman, Chris Mullin has to go down in history as one of the best shooters ever. The talented scorer averaged 20.1 PPG as a member of the Warriors and was the main driver of the excellent franchise during the 1990s. With Mullin at the helm, the Warriors were scoring a ton of points without the presence of the three-point shot.
One can only imagine what the 1990s Warriors would have been like in today’s game because the three-point shot has taken statistics to a different level. Mullin made 5 All-Star Teams, 4 All-NBA Teams, and also made it to the Hall of Fame. Playing in 13 seasons with the Warriors, Chris Mullin has to be among the ten greatest draft selections by the franchise.
6. Draymond Green - No. 35 Pick (2012 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 8.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Draymond Green might never get the respect he deserves because of his seemingly average statistics, but his impact came outside of the stat sheet. Make no mistake about it, the Warriors very likely do not win a single championship without their guts and glue guy playing a significant role on defense. Green can legitimately defend all five positions when needed, and his leadership with the franchise is unquestionably great.
For a 6’6” power forward, Draymond is an excellent passer and vocal leader who set the tone for the modern Golden State Warriors dynasty. We have seen Green control the ball multiple times up the floor and make the right plays, and he was the bodyguard for a team that was rather finessed in how they approached the game. Draymond will be underrated, but he will also be in the Hall of Fame thanks to his 4 NBA championships.
5. Paul Arizin - No. 3 Pick (1950 NBA Draft)
San Francisco Warriors Statistics: 22.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.3 APG
Paul Arizin made the list of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team because he was considered a pioneer for the sport when he basically introduced the jump shot to the league. In fact, he mastered the jump shot and led the league in scoring twice as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. The 6’4” small forward was an offensive superstar during the 1950s and early 1960s, even though his numbers slightly pale in comparison to other offensive superstars in other eras. But make no mistake, Arizin was the man during his era and has to be one of the greatest players in NBA history, considering the damage he did during the early stages of the NBA. It is amazing to consider that the small forward also had a brief retirement in his 3rd and 4th years due to military service.
The Hall of Fame Arizin made the All-Star team every year he played in the league, only averaging under 20 PPG once in his career (rookie campaign). Despite only standing 6’4”, Paul was also a very solid rebounder who averaged at least 8 RPG 6 times in his career, with his best season coming in 1952 when he put up 11.3 RPG to go along with his league-leading 25.4 PPG. Arizin’s track record as a scorer with the Warriors is intact, which is why he is easily a top-5 player who was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors.
4. Rick Barry - No. 4 Pick (1965 NBA Draft)
San Francisco/Golden State Warriors Statistics: 25.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 5.1 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Easily a top-50 player of all time, Rick Barry was a Hall of Famer and a pure offensive juggernaut who amassed over 25,000 points scored over his career. He averaged over 30 PPG twice in his NBA career and was known to be a ferocious competitor who seemed to rub everyone the wrong way to his advantage. Nobody enjoyed playing against him, and for good reason, because his track record of greatness and achievements makes him a top-10 small forward ever.
Taken No. 4 overall in the 1965 NBA Draft, Barry led the NBA in scoring in his second season with the San Francisco Warriors by putting up 35.6 PPG on 45.1% FG and 88.4% FT. The forward stood 6’7” and had the most unique free-throw shot ever because his “granny shot” terrorized defenses whenever they fouled him. By simply looking at his resume, it was obvious that Barry is one of the all-time greatest players who ever played for the Warriors.
3. Klay Thompson - No. 11 Pick (2011 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 19.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG
One half of the iconic Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson, achieved a ton with the Golden State Warriors franchise. Alongside Stephen Curry, Klay has changed the game with his deep-range shooting. Over his career, the sharpshooter is averaging 41.7% shooting from deep and holds the NBA record for most threes in a game with 14 made. Of course, Klay is a 4-time NBA champion as the sidekick to Stephen Curry (and Kevin Durant) in a modern-day dynasty.
Even though Thompson does not have an MVP or Finals MVP award, the Warriors most likely do not win the number of championships they won without the presence of the All-Star. Thompson helped Stephen Curry reach the heights that he did and is also one of the most underrated stars of the modern era, considering he did not even make the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. But Thompson has the team success and record-breaking performances to take his stock to another level as a member of the Warriors, and he has to be the third-best player taken in the draft by Golden State.
2. Wilt Chamberlain - No. 3 Pick (1959 NBA Draft)
Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors Statistics: 41.5 PPG, 25.1 RPG, 3.0 APG
The most dominant player in the history of the game, Wilt Chamberlain, broke NBA records and put up ridiculous statistics as a member of the Warriors. The superstar center won 6 straight scoring titles as a member of the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors and had seasons averaging 44.8 PPG and also 50.4 PPG. But Chamberlain wasn’t only an elite scorer.
Wilt was also a ferocious rebounder, dominating the court with a career average of 22.9 PPG. With the Warriors, Wilt averaged 25.1 RPG to go along with his ridiculous 41.5 PPG average. So why isn’t Wilt the greatest Warrior of all time? Because he never won an NBA title with the franchise and often fell short of other all-time great players in games where it mattered most.
1. Stephen Curry - No. 7 Pick (2009 NBA Draft)
Golden State Warriors Statistics: 24.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
There is no doubt that Stephen Curry is the greatest player in the history of the Golden State Warriors. He won 4 NBA championships, 2 MVP awards, and a Finals MVP award with the franchise that took him No.7 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. The point guard has reached heights nobody ever thought would be possible from a 6’2” player. Before Steph, there was no way a player under 6’6” could change the way the NBA was played. But Curry did the unthinkable, changing the NBA for the foreseeable future due to his deep-range shooting.
The point guard has made 8 All-Star appearances, 8 All-NBA Team appearances, and made the All-Rookie Team. Steph is also the undisputed greatest shooter ever, averaging a career 47.3% FG, 42.8% 3-PT FG, and 90.8% FT. As great as Wilt Chamberlain was, Steph was on another level as the undisputed Mr. Warrior. Curry has a chance to take his legacy to an entirely different level if he manages to win a few more NBA titles and/or MVP awards because he is knocking on the door of the all-time great players regardless of position.