Eternal Sunshine in a Spotted Mind
Another below .500 season, another (late) lottery pick… it seems to be the same story every year. With no luck as usual, the Warriors fell into their expected draft spot, the #9 slot. The annual NBA lottery and draft reminds us of the perpetual Golden State Warrior mediocrity throughout the organization (with the exception of the fine cheerleaders—what other NBA team has 4 Asian American dancers???). Around this time of year, newspapers, blogs, websites, and conversations between friends are usually about the Warriors draft history such as the busts and the could-have-beens of the Golden State Warriors. We all know about the Warriors passing on Kobe Bryant for the Academic All American Todd Fuller (have the Warriors not figured out YET that (white) “intelligence” amounts to nothing in the NBA???), Godzilla of the Patriot League Adonal Foyle one pick ahead of Tracy McGrady, and even years before that with a game as average and non-descript as his name, #1 Joe Smith over #5 Kevin Garnett. And how can we ever forget the Mike Dunleavy propaganda machine creating the myth of the White hype or suburban poster boy, role model for the NBA—esp. with some Black Athletes saying their piece about the inherent racism of professional sports, which I think is very much needed. The excitement that swirled around mock-drafts—I admit that I was a sucker—about Dunleavy Jr.’s all around game and genetic basketball acumen reeked of racist ‘biology’ like “phrenology.” Unfortunately, we have yet to rest of us fans have yet to reap the benefits of this “possessive investment in Whiteness” (see George Lipsitz). Anyway, year after year, die hard Warrior fans, two days a year—the day the lottery picks are set and the day of the actual draft, are treated to a flashes of hope that the Warriors will draft a stud that will single-handedly rescue the Warriors ship—the NBA version of the Titanic, submerged for years now.
Instead of thinking of the painful memories of Warriors draft lore, which us fans seem to speak about like War vets or old folks recalling how difficult it was in THEIR time, I was thinking who are the most ‘underrated’ draft picks in Warriors history? I’m not talking about sure-fire winners like Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond or Vonteego Cummings (just kidding about the latter). In a history marred by poor management, the trading away of super stars who have later become major pieces if not the integral piece of a playoff team (this list could go on forever I’m sure), I was curious as to who was the one Warriors pick that actually worked out? In recent drafts, low drafts picks such as Tony Parker was the #28th pick in the draft, Manu Ginobli was #55 I think and Gilbert Arenas the #31st just to name a few have become major stars. We all know the Warriors draft follies and we always moan and groan about the ones that suck (don’t forget the first round trifecta of 6’10 role players #16 Chris Gatlin, #17 Victor Alexander and #25 Shaun Vandiver in the 1991 draft…with three first rounders, that’s ALL you could get???), but which Warriors have not received enough praise for their services? My pick for the most underrated Warriors draft pick in my era is:
Drafted #128 overall, in the 6th round of the 1987 draft, the Soviet Union stud came over in the 1989 season and became a major contributor to the Warriors for four straight seasons. He failed to play the full season in all four seasons and often seemed injury prone, 6’5 Marciulinonis was the 1st runner up for 6th man of the year for 2 years straight (years 1991 and 1992). In his best season, Marciulionis averaged 19 pts, 3 rbs, 3 asts along with 1.6 steals a game. In his four seasons with the Warriors, he averaged 15 pts a game with similar numbers in the other statistical categories. Like all good Warriors, he was later traded to the Seattle Supersonics in 1994 then traded to the Sacramento Kings in 1995 and finally finishing his career in 1996 with the Denver Nuggets. Here’s to you Sarunas Marciulionis, my choice as the most underrated Warriors draft pick.
1981: #171 Yasutaka Okayama, 7’8, University of Osaka
Did not join the team, wise choice.