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Warriors focusing on draft lottery, combine

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While teams at the top of the NBA standings await the league’s plan to restart the season, teams like the Warriors, at the bottom of the standings, are more curious about what the draft lottery and combine will look like when they are rescheduled.

Since the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, league operations have been at a standstill. Not only were games postponed indefinitely, the NBA draft lottery and combine — which were supposed to take place this week in Chicago — have yet to be rescheduled.

Because they are officially eliminated from the playoffs, the Warriors are more focused on the league’s plan for rescheduling these events than how a season will resume.

However, those in the Warriors’ front office have not heard anything from the league about rescheduling the draft lottery or combine, with one executive saying, “I believe the last thing on the league’s mind is the draft.”

With the NBA’s worst record, the Warriors are tied for the best odds to land the No.1 pick and are guaranteed a top-five pick when the lottery — originally scheduled for Tuesday — is eventually conducted.

Golden State has a 14% chance of getting the No. 1 pick, a 13.4% chance at the No. 2 pick, a 12.7% chance at the No. 3 pick, a 12% chance at the No. 4 pick and a 47.9% chance at the No. 5 pick.

Despite having completed about 75% of the season, the NBA reportedly does not plan to change the lottery odds if they are not able to finish the regular season, believing that enough of a sample is available to establish a fair draft order.

It also helps that, starting last year, lottery odds were flattened to give teams a better chance of moving up in the draft. In last year’s lottery, the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, tied for the seventh-best odds, moved up to the first and second overall picks, respectively.

Though the league could certainly hold a virtual lottery, it must first decide if those teams outside the playoff picture will play any more games.

According to the Athletic, the NBA is zeroing in on resuming the season in a quarantine zone in Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort with a possible start in mid-July. Commissioner Adam Silver aims to make a decision in two to four weeks.

In addition to conducting the lottery, the NBA was scheduled to host its annual combine for draft prospects in Chicago this week. It is a vital event that draws hundreds of team representatives, agents and prospects for scrimmages, medical testing and interviews.

Although the combine was postponed indefinitely, the league still hopes to hold a version of it this year. Sources say a virtual combine — in which teams watch players work out via video stream, rather than in person — is a possible scenario.

However, that would eliminate the most valuable aspect of the combine: medical testing.

“That is still a concern and it is another topic they have not addressed,” said the Warriors executive. “It is an important part of the player evaluation process.”

Set to select in the top five for the first time in 18 years, the Warriors’ main concern is not being able to acquire first-hand medical reports, according to sources. Although medical information can be acquired from agents, schools and professional leagues, that information can be skewed or unreliable.

The Warriors’ scouting department has been preparing for a high draft pick since December, and has already seen most of the top prospects in person multiple times. Head coach Steve Kerr and his staff have been watching film on those prospects since play was postponed. The front office is prepared to conduct interviews with prospects virtually.

As the Warriors put together their draft board, the other concern is being able to fill out their summer league and G League rosters. With several tournaments and competitive events canceled due to the pandemic, a combine would have been a valuable way to evaluate fringe prospects. In addition to its first-round pick, Golden State has two second-round selections to make.

Time is starting to become an issue. The NBA draft is scheduled for June 25, but the expectation is that it will be postponed in order to give the league more time to reschedule the lottery and the combine later this year.

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