SAN FRANCISCO — While some of the Warriors are still celebrating the NBA title they won one week ago, Golden State’s brass turned its attention to what’s to come.
The Warriors added a future prospect with their 2022 first-round NBA draft pick, selecting 19-year-old guard/forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. 28th overall.
A star out of high school, Baldwin’s freshman season at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was cut short due to an ankle injury. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 11 games.
President of basketball operations Bob Myers said Wednesday that they would go for the best player available. By the time the Warriors were on the clock around 7:45 p.m., Baldwin was their guy.
Standing at 6-foot-9, Baldwin is a high-risk, potentially high-reward kind of selection. He didn’t take part in physical testing at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month and his ankle appeared to limit him. He recorded the second-lowest vertical leap of those tested, measuring at 23.5 inches.
Before his only college season being marred by a reoccurring ankle injury, Baldwin was a top-five recruit out of high school. The Sussex, Wisconsin, native was considered an elite ballhander and great shooter with lottery pick potential. He was a 2021 McDonald’s All-American and was named the 2020 Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year after leading Hamilton high school to a 22-3 record while averaging 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds as a junior.
Baldwin had offers to many top programs, including Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, Michigan and North Carolina. But he ultimately decided to go to the Wisconsin-Milwaukee, of the Horizon League, to play for his father.
Baldwin seemed to live up to his expectations early in the season, posting the school’s first double-double by a freshman since 2008 in his debut by 21 points and 11 rebounds against North Dakota. But then his ankle betrayed him and hampered him the rest of the season.
Coming off their fourth NBA title in eight years, the Warriors are early favorites to repeat as champions and remain in win-now mode while also developing talent for the future. Baldwin will not be relied on to make a major immediate impact. He joins lottery picks James Wiseman (21 years old), Jonathan Kuminga (19) and Moses Moody (20) as being part of the next generation of Warriors.
Baldwin is the Warriors’ third No. 28 overall pick in the last five years.
Golden State took guard Jordan Poole out of Michigan in 2019. He wasn’t an immediate hit as Poole underperformed in his first two seasons as he struggled to adjust with the transition from college ball to the NBA. After a G League demotion last season, Poole broke out this season and was a key supporting cast member on the Warriors’ title-winning team.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ decision to take guard Jacob Evans III out of Cincinnati in 2018 has proven to be a mistake. He was thrown in to the trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins and the pick that turned into Kuminga. Evans played last season in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Myers and his team aren’t done just yet. The Warriors own the Nos. 51 and 55 picks in the second round. Golden State could trade those selections for future assets or cash.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.