Perks predicts: How will the Warriors fill out their remaining roster spots?
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As we get deeper into the doldrums of the off-season, the signings and rumors get scarcer and scarcer as the majority of teams have essentially figured out how their rosters will shape up next season. And while the futures of stars/high-end starters like Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, and Colin Sexton still hang in the balance of the air, from a free agency standpoint, outside of finalizing camp rosters, teams are done making moves and that includes the Warriors.
The Current Roster Situation
Taking inventory of the roster situation, the Warriors currently have 18 players under contract (you are allowed to roster up to 20 players in the off-season). Of those 18, 13 are standard guaranteed contracts, 2 are two-ways, and the final 3 are all non-guaranteed training camp deals. The Warriors will still add two more guys ahead of pre-season, but for practical reasons, they’re essentially done at this point.
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Only a few more off-season tasks remain for them and outside of the obvious one in ironing out a potential Jordan Poole extension before his Oct. 17 deadline and the more minuscule ones like setting up Santa Cruz’s roster for next season and figuring out how Gui Santos fits into that, their biggest task left is determining what they do with the 14th spot on their roster. And that is entirely dependent on what Andre Iguodala decides to do moving forward.
The Andre Iguodala Situation
As it’s been widely reported, the Warriors have offered Iguodala a minimum deal to return for another season and are just waiting at this point to find out if he will accept that or instead decide to finally retire and ride off into the sunset. Now some fans have mixed feelings about Andre returning given where he is as a player at this point and what he could realistically offer on the court, but it’s clear the Warriors greatly value him and have already factored him into their plans with their current roster construction.
So as things stand it’s pretty simple, if Iguodala returns, the roster is done (barring someone absolutely wowing them enough in training camp to get them to change their tone on keeping the 15th spot open to start the season, but that’s quite unlikely).
However, if Iguodala retires, then things start to get a little interesting as the Warriors will have an open roster spot they’ll need to fill on their roster in his absence.
The Current Camp Competition
There are some clear-cut candidates for that scenario who are already on the roster, beginning with Quinndary Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon re-signed on a two-way this summer (actually became the first player in NBA history to sign a two-way in the allotted four seasons) after having a very impressive last year for the Warriors and he will definitely be the first player they look at potentially promoting to the roster if Iguodala retires. While Weatherspoon doesn’t provide the sort of vet presence they’d be losing (although he is the 7th oldest player on the roster right now at 25), he is someone who fits the Warriors stylistically and would be quite valuable as essentially their 12th man off the bench who could eat up some minutes in bench units. His off-ball ability and defensive versatility, coupled with his ability to score effectively in the restricted area would be useful. While the Warriors can just keep him on a two-way and potentially convert him into the 15th roster spot later in the season, if he emerges as your best player during the camp competition then you have to reward him for that and give him a standard contract.
The other existing candidate on the roster is Mac McClung. The high-flying athletic guard impressed in Summer League for the Warriors on the back of a Rookie of the Year season in the G League. He signed with the Warriors on a camp deal that specifically did not include an Exhibit 10 attachment as he clearly does not view himself as a two-way player and wants a standard deal either here or elsewhere. In the event that Iguodala retires, McClung will try to give Weatherspoon stiff competition to try to earn a spot on the roster. While Weatherspoon does have more equity with the organization as well as being a more versatile and better fit, McClung could potentially fill a role as a third-string ball handler, more in the ilk of a traditional point guard than Weatherspoon.
While Trevion Williams and Pat Spencer both technically factor into this roster spot competition as well, these are both guys who will be without a doubt heading to Santa Cruz for this upcoming season. At most, they could impress enough to potentially earn a two-way spot, especially if Weatherspoon were to get promoted, but neither of them is a legitimate factor for the 15-man roster competition.
The Free Agency Landscape
Moving away from existing camp invites, let’s look at the free agency landscape to identify some potential options that could be thrown into the mix. The Warriors have two spots open and even if Iguodala returns, will still have at least one spot, so they will be able to add one more player for training camp, which could be one of the guys below.
For the purpose of this exercise, the below candidates were chosen based on a couple of assumptions that were made in order to help determine who would make sense.
a) The Warriors are only willing to offer a fully non-guaranteed Exhibit 9 training camp contract (No partials or guaranteed deals)
b) The Warriors will only sign veterans who understand they are competing for a roster spot and if they win will not be guaranteed any playing time and will mostly be used sparingly and to act as mentors for their youth
c) The Warriors will not add any more bigs to the roster (they’re content with Looney, Wiseman, D. Green, J. Green, and Kuminga as their C rotation)
d) The Warriors will prioritize adding a wing (hopefully one that can also handle the ball a bit) over a more traditional point guard (they’re content with Curry, Poole, Dray, and Rollins as their “PG” rotation)
14th Roster Spot Candidates (if Iguodala retires)
Tyreke Evans (SF, 32, 6’6): Evans was the first name that came to mind for me. The Warriors brought him in for two in-person workouts late last season and brought him in for another workout this past June. He’s a former Bob Myers client and someone who was their top MLE target in 2018. Evans has been someone they’ve been circling for some time and if Iguodala retires, it might be the perfect storm for him to finally suit up for the Dubs. Evans would most likely be more than willing to sign an Exhibit 9 to compete for a spot and he’d actually make a lot of sense on this roster as an experienced veteran who can replicate some of Iguodala’s ball-handling duties, while likely being able to provide more on the court than him at this point.
Wayne Ellington (SG, 34, 6’5): Ellington is a year removed from a productive season with the Pistons where he shot 42.2% from downtown on 6 3PA/G. While he had a down year on a completely discombobulated Lakers team and probably wouldn’t be able to offer a whole lot on the court at this point, he’d be a sensible addition as an older veteran mentor who wouldn’t have to play a lot, but could come in and hit an occasional 3 while fitting into their offensive system. Given his age and somewhat underwhelming season in Los Angeles, Ellington should be willing to take a camp deal to try to make the Champs’ roster.
Jeremy Lamb (SG, 30, 6’5): Lamb is arguably the least likely on this list to be willing to take a camp deal given his age and ability. He should still have enough juice to get at least some sort of partially guaranteed commitment somewhere, but if not, then he would definitely be someone the Warriors should take a look at. He’d offer them a capable floor spacing wing who could actually play a decent amount of minutes, if necessary. While he’s only a career 34% outside shooter, in a reduced role that number would be a lot higher.
Tony Snell (SF, 30, 6’6): Snell has become a bit of a journeyman these last couple of years. While he wouldn't be able to play a lot of minutes, the Warriors wouldn't ask him to and he should already come in accustomed to an end-of-the-bench role given how his last couple of stints have gone. Despite some of his shortcomings and a tendency to become a bit of a passenger in games, Snell is still a bigger wing who can shoot and would fit in well with the Warriors stylistically.
Rodney Hood (SF, 29, 6’8): Hood hasn't been the same player since tearing his achilies during the 2019-20 season and has really struggled to find his footing since then, bouncing around from team to team while putting up pedestrian numbers. Although he might be a shell of himself at this point, there still exists the idea of him as a big 3&D wing that could generate offense off the bench in a limited role. At the very least it would be worth the Warriors bringing him in for a workout to see how he's looking health-wise and if they couldn't potentially maximize what's left of his skillset.
Ben McLemore (SG, 29, 6’3): McLemore is another journeyman who actually had a fairly productive past season in Portland putting up 10.2ppg on 36% from three (which is also his career average, but he did have a stretch of back to back 40% seasons). McLemore has his shortcomings, but when he’s locked in he can be a very useful undersized 3&D wing off the bench and would be worth at least taking a look at on a camp invite.
Gary Clark (SF, 27, 6’6): The last player who’s a bit lesser known and isn’t really a veteran but is worth spotlighting as a potentially very interesting camp invite is Clark. He’s someone who’s been on the NBA fringes for a couple of seasons now making a few stops around the league. He spent the previous season after a short stint in the G League with New Orleans on a two-way contract where he appeared in 38 games and shot 40% from 3 on 70 attempts. While he’s a career 32% shooter from three, there’s potential for more, and given his tenacity as a rebounder, a realized version of Clark could be a quite intriguing dark horse option as a fit on this team for a roster spot as a bigger utility wing.
Honorable Mentions: Trevor Ariza, Michael Carter-Williams, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Abdel Nader, P.J. Dozier, DeAndre' Bembry, Alize Johnson, Yuta Watanabe, Justin Anderson
Two-Way Candidates (if Weatherspoon is promoted)
Jerome Robinson (SG, 25, 6’5): The former 2018 lottery pick averaged: 20.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.8apg, 1.0spg and was Santa Cruz’s second-best player after Quinndary Weatherspoon. Robinson really impressed last year in the G League showcasing his obvious NBA-level talent and should be a clear-cut candidate for the camp roster. He possesses the skillset of the modern wing with his ability to score at all three levels, self-create, playmake, as well as have the length and size to have some impact defensively. While he flamed out in his first go around in the NBA, it seems clear that he’s a bit of a late-bloomer and with the right development, in the right organization, could still have an NBA future down the line. The Warriors have a bit of a penchant for reclamation projects (Weatherspoon, Payton II, Chriss, McGee, etc) and Robinson could be next in line on the pipeline.
Facundo Campazzo (PG, 31, 5’10): I’ll clarify now that out of every name I’ve listed in this post to me this is the least likely. I’d venture to guess Campazzo would rather go back overseas and make seven figures than sign a two-way, but in the off chance, he wants to find a way to stick in the NBA, this could be a union at least worth considering. The Warriors historically don’t tend to go for smaller guards unless they're either a Payton II, Weatherspoon type of uber-athletic, defensively versatile quasi-wing; or Chiozza, Mannion type of more traditional, elite passing floor general. Campazzo would fit into that second category and make some sense as a gifted passer, who can space the floor, and while not a good defender, offer a TJ McConnell/Jose Alvarado type of peskiness that’s annoying to play against. He’d essentially be a supped-up version of Chiozza on a roster that could really use some playmaking depth, especially if Iguodala retires, to supplement the rookie Ryan Rollins.
Matt Ryan (SF, 25, 6’7): Not Colts QB Matt Ryan is someone who caught attention in the G League last year as a floor-spacing wing. He’s exactly the type of steady movement shooter who can play primarily off the ball that’s a seamless fit in the Warrior's offensive system. While there are some question marks defensively, what he can add on the other end is enough to roster him as a playable guy in a pinch. He finished last season with the Celtics and it’s unclear at this point if they plan on bringing him back, but if not he could make some sense for a camp invite.
Mason Jones (SG, 24, 6’4): Jones placed third in G League MVP voting this past season and was named to the All-G League First Team. He’s a big scoring guard with a versatile offensive game that can play with and without the ball. He spent last season on a two-way with the Lakers and given his performance it would be surprising if he can’t get a similar contract this season. While he’s not a perfect fit for the Warriors, he’s an intriguing enough talent that’s worth at least potentially bringing to camp.
Nate Hinton (SF, 23, 6’5): Hinton had a brief cameo with the Santa Cruz Warriors as an assignment player from the Mavericks during the 2020-21 G League bubble season and he left a good impression on the Warrior’s coaching staff during that team. He’s the ultimate workhorse that does all the little things winning teams look for. He’s a great rebounder, especially on the offensive end, a versatile defender, a smart cutter, a capable passer, and someone who can knock down a three. He does leave a lot to be desired on the offensive end, but he’s someone who plays winning basketball.
Trhae Mitchell (SF, 24, 6’6): After Robinson, Mitchell is a personal favorite of mine on this list. He’s someone I’ve kept an eye on in the G League these last two seasons who just really impressed me every time I’ve seen him play. I genuinely feel he just needs the right NBA opportunity at this point. He’s the ideal role-playing 3&D wing with size and versatility. He’s tenacious, a great hustler, and a solid passer. He could be a real asset at the end of the bench for any team and hopefully, he finally gets a training camp invite this fall from somewhere.
LJ Figueroa (PF, 24, 6’6): Figueroa is the second Santa Cruz Warrior making an appearance on this list as another player who had a good first season with the Sea Dubs. While he isn’t the level of prospect as the aforementioned Robinson, he is intriguing in his own right. Figueroa is a big, versatile floor-spacing wing who can defend multiple positions, inhale rebounds, and get buckets highlighted by a nasty floater game. He spent much of this last season playing as a small-ball 5 for the Warriors to varying levels of success. He got off to a hot start, but the toll of having to guard much bigger players eventually wore on him over the course of the season, and his numbers started to dip. The Charlotte Hornets invited him to Summer League where he might have impressed enough to get consideration for their open two-way spot.
Honorable Mentions: Armoni Brooks, Nate Pierre-Louis, Keaton Wallace, Matt Thomas, Louis King, Robert Woodard, Melvin Frazier, D.J. Stewart, Malik Fitts, Jarrett Culver
My Final Training Camp Spot Predictions
Andre Iguodala (Minimum) or Tyreke Evans (Exhibit 9)
Jerome Robinson (Exhibit 10)
What are your thoughts? Any players that weren’t mentioned here you think the Warriors should take a look at for a camp invite?
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As y'all might have guessed already, I've had Lil Mac penciled-in for a roster spot/3rd PG for a long time, assuming he does not implode at Training Camp. Easily see this instant energizer off the bench/running team/transition, particularly if either of the two PGs ahead of him miss any time due to injury...
What are they doing with Gui Santos?