Experts react, grade Warriors’ selection of Baldwin Jr. originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Warriors used the No. 28 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft to select Milwaukee forward Patrick Baldwin Jr.
After drafting Jordan Poole with that same pick in 2019, Golden State is hoping 28 is its lucky number.
But draft experts aren’t waiting three seasons to watch Baldwin Jr. develop, instead, they’ve already dished out grades for the Warriors’ first pick of this year’s draft.
Here are what draft experts around the league are saying about the Warriors’ selection.
“There isn’t a better situation for Baldwin than Golden State. He’s joining a team where there will be no pressure at all to develop quickly. It’s an all-upside pick on a top-ranked prospect out of high school who had a disastrous college season, dealing with injuries while playing for a bad team coached by his father. But with his great size and theoretical two-way ability as a scorer and defender, the Warriors can be patient in trying to get everything they can out of him. And if they miss, so be it.”
“I see what the Warriors are doing here, but this feels like a reach. Golden State adds a former McDonald’s All-American who was one of the top 10 players in his high school class before a disappointing freshman season. At 6-10, Baldwin has intriguing size and he’s labeled as a 3-point shooter even though he didn’t shoot very well this past year. If any team can get Baldwin to reach his full potential, it’s the Warriors.”
“I like this for Golden State specifically. Who are they taking this late that is going to help them immediately? Probably nobody. So they take the big swing! Baldwin would have been a top-10 pick if we’d done this draft a year ago. Great size, beautiful shot and a worthwhile risk.”
“Baldwin is a the epitome of a boom-or-bust prospect in this draft. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan and 9-foot-2 standing reach, Baldwin’s size speaks for itself. The bet on his game is that his perimeter shot and his turnaround jumper are going to make him a really difficult matchup for an opposing defense in the NBA. Sample size is limited, as his year at Milwaukee playing for his dad did not show much.
He only appeared in 11 games, re-aggravating an ankle injury that derailed his high school career. The concept of his game fitting as a big who can shoot is interesting. That said, his defense is nonexistent. He really does not appear to have much feel on that end of the floor, so much so that it makes him a hard sell right now as a first round prospect. It’s also tough to tell how big of a motor Baldwin has.
Finding a big is a need for the world champions and Baldwin fits in that category. In terms of fit, Baldwin can’t ask for a better landing spot. His lack of athletic ability is really concerning, but Golden State betting on their player development system is something you can’t hate.”
“This is the best possible landing spot for Baldwin. The 6’10 forward was projected to be a top-10 pick coming into the year before enduring one of the most trying freshmen seasons by a highly-touted recruit in recent memory. Baldwin hurt his ankle early in his senior year of high school, and it lingered into his freshman year, limiting him to only 11 games. Baldwin had an offer from Duke but chose to play for his father at Milwaukee instead. The poor team context hurt him all season when he was on the court. If you throw out the freshman year, there’s a lot to like about Baldwin. He has major size with a 9’2 standing reach, and had a reputation as a knockdown shooter at the high school level. Baldwin is no sure thing because of his injury issues and his lack of athleticism, but his size, shooting, and blue chip pedigree is appealing at this point in the draft. Read my feature on Baldwin’s rise and fall as a top draft prospect here.”
“The Warriors obviously have the luxury to draft a player here they can stash and develop. Baldwin Jr. looks the part of an elite NBA player with his 6-foot-10 frame. He handles and shoots the ball like a guard but there are concerns if he can stay healthy. Baldwin Jr. only played 11 games this past college season due to an ankle injury and was plagued with injuries in high school. Again, the Warriors can stash and develop him but it’s still a risky pick.”
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“If I believed in Baldwin at all defensively, I would have a first-round grade on him. I buy the shot that much, and I think he has a chance to be one of the league’s best shooters due to his rhythm, balance, release and high-release point. But I just don’t think he’s going to be able to guard anyone, especially in the wide-open spaces the NBA provides. He might be such a good shooter that he sticks around the league for a while as a specialist, but I don’t think I buy him as an impact player. I see him more as being like another Wisconsin basketball legend, Steve Novak. Novak played about 500 career games and stuck around the league for a decade. But he was never the kind of guy who could be relied upon to hang enough on defense.
Hollinger’s team fit: Baldwin had an absolutely miserable freshman season, but his pedigree coming into the year helped keep his draft stock afloat. The idea of Baldwin as a big wing who can shoot probably connotes some fantasies of a young Otto Porter, but the reality so far has fallen miles short of that.”
“With four championship rings in the past eight years, most of its core under contract next year, and a bevy of young talent waiting in the wings with three recent lottery picks in James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, the Warriors are in an envious situation entering next season, especially since it’s ownership has proven willing to spend big dollars to keep the party rolling. Steph Curry is aging like a fine wine, Klay Thompson will likely continue to look like his old self the further removed he is from his disastrous injuries, and there’s no reason to believe the likes of Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II and others can’t be retained long-term considering everything the team has going for it. With that in mind, some may view this draft pick as icing on the cake, but the Warriors front office has proven to be fairly shrewd with the way it uses draft capital, as their roster’s core was selected and developed in-house, and continuing to stockpile affordable talent has to be a priority considering the team’s luxury tax situation.
Baldwin has tremendous size for a wing, measuring over 6-foot-10 with a near 7-2 wingspan and 231-pound frame. He sports an effortless stroke with a silky touch, polished footwork, the ability to make difficult shots off the dribble, a great pedigree and is just 19 years old. As talented as Baldwin is, he had an unproductive and inefficient season playing at an extremely low level of competition, where he was clearly hampered by a nagging ankle injury that dates back to his high school years. NBA scouts question his toughness on the defensive end, as well as his explosiveness and inability to make teammates better as Milwaukee clearly played better when he was out of the rotation. Those question marks caused Baldwin to fall from a projected top-10 pick to the No. 28 pick of the draft.”