Thursday, December 8

Warriors take ‘upside swing’ with Patrick Baldwin Jr. in NBA draft’s first round

After days of trade speculation, the Golden State Warriors wound up keeping the No. 28 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft and used it to select guard Patrick Baldwin Jr. out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

General manager Bob Myers said that Baldwin was higher than No. 28 on the Warriors’ draft broad, and that the team values Baldwin’s size — 6-foot-9, 220-pounds and a 7-2 wingspan — versatility and high basketball IQ. But there questions surrounding Baldwin’s durability, athleticism and defense.

Myers conceded that Baldwin’s selection was more of an “upside swing,” but with the power of the franchise’s player development staff, they hope to help Baldwin realize the potential that made him one of the top high school recruits in the country.

Baldwin, who turns 20 in November, was a five-star recruit and the No. 5 overall player in the 2021 class. However, his freshman season was limited to just 11 games because of a nagging ankle injury originally suffered during his senior year at Sussex Hamilton High School and COVID-19. He had offers from top national programs such as Duke, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan, but chose to play for his father, Patrick Baldwin Sr., in the Horizon League.

Baldwin averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in his lone season at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and shot just 34.4% from the field and 26.6% from 3-point range. He tied the school record for the most 3-pointers without a miss (six) as part of a career-high 26-point performance against Robert Morris on Dec. 4.

“Sometimes guys come in and they don’t have the type of season that they want,” Myers said. “He said he committed late, and he said he got there and he wasn’t as activated as he wanted to be, tried to fit in with his dad being the coach. In hindsight, maybe he thought he should be more aggressive. And then when he got injured, he never really got back at it.”

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Baldwin’s development might get off to a slow start. Myers said Baldwin’s ankle underwent a predraft evaluation by Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance, and he deemed it wasn’t 100%. It still isn’t. He was limited to spot-up shooting and film study during his visit with the team in San Francisco. And for Baldwin to participate in the upcoming California Classic or Las Vegas summer league, he’ll have to be cleared by Celebrini first.

“Hopefully he can play, but not at the expense of hurting him,” Myers said. “Maybe more in Vegas than the California Classic, but we’ll see after Rick sees him again.”

In the best-case scenario for the Warriors, Baldwin develops into a strong rotational player and versatile scorer that can slash and space the floor.

But for the time being, he’s labeled as a project at best.

“I think he just needs to put it together,” Myers said. “I mean, he’s got a great skill set. When you watch him shoot, it’s a great looking shot, but he didn’t shoot a high percentage. He can probably rebound better. If you watch him handle the ball he’s got a great handle. But it’s just about getting it all together and he hasn’t quite done that yet.”

Golden State’s Milwaukee ties strengthen with Baldwin’s selection. Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney are both from there, and Juan Toscano-Anderson played college basketball at Marquette.

“I guess we like Milwaukee guys,” Myers said.

C.J. Holmes covers the Warriors for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email:
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