San Francisco Chronicle

A long wait to draft a big man

- By Rusty Simmons

With Andrew Bogut heading into the final season of his contract and Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights and Anderson Varejao set to become free agents next month, the Warriors could be looking for a big man in Thursday’s NBA draft.

This year’s draft crop isn’t especially deep, and the consensus is that there are only two surefire picks: LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram. There are, however, a handful of centers who might be on the board when the Warriors select at No. 30 overall.

“If you can get a guy at 30 who can be a rotational player,

I think you’ve done well,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. “The goal is to find a guy we think can play. We hope one will be there, but you just never really know.”

Croatian teenagers Ivica Zubac (a 7-footer) and 6-11 Ante Zizic are expected to be nabbed before the Warriors pick, but the U.S. college ranks have produced some big men who might be available.

Vanderbilt junior Damian Jones, Maryland freshman Diamond Stone, Louisville sophomore Chinanu Onuaku, UNLV freshman Stephen Zimmerman and Purdue senior A.J. Hammons are all generally slotted between Nos. 20 and 40.

Jones, a 6-11, 244pounder, had surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle this week, but he’s expected to be ready for training camp.

“He can really run, and he’s got a lot of ability, but he’s a little bit inconsiste­nt with how hard he plays and how productive he is, and he got it handed to him a few times,” ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas said. “But he’s a terrific kid, and I’ve heard people ask the question: ‘He’s such a good kid, is he kind of mean enough to play in the NBA?’ ”

Stone, 6-10 and 254 pounds, won’t turn 20 until close to the 2017 All-Star break.

Stone “is a terrific player. I've got him rated a little bit lower than 30, but offensivel­y, he can really play,” Bilas said. “It’s just a question of will he rebound and get in better condition and play with a little better of a motor.”

Onuaku, 6-10 and 245 pounds, had a procedure to correct a heart-rhythm issue last month, which could scare some teams about giving him the guaranteed contract that comes with a first-round selection.

Zimmerman is a 7foot, 234-pound lefty who is more than four years younger than Hammons (23 years old, 7-foot, 278 pounds).

“At this point, I think he’s supposed to have figured it out,” Bilas said of Hammons. “I think he’s a good pick early in the second round or late in the first, and especially if he goes to a good team. I think he can really help somebody.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States