OAKLAND — Warriors general manager Larry Riley acknowledged with playful reluctance that he's 64 years old. He's been in the league for decades and around the sport even longer.
So, he's bona fide old school. Which is why he has no problems with competition. He is likely to create some on his roster with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
Riley, in a session with the local media Monday, said the Warriors are likely to draft either a point guard or a power forward, with the discussion centering mostly on Davidson guard Stephen Curry and Arizona big man Jordan Hill. A selection at either position would create interesting roster decisions this offseason and, if a point guard is drafted, perhaps the need for some smoothing over with guard Monta Ellis.
Drafting Hill would create a logjam at power forward, as Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph are penciled in as the starter and backup. Drafting a point guard might spell the end of the Warriors tenures of Jamal Crawford and C.J. Watson. It also might put some pressure on Ellis to speed his development at the position.
"We look forward to the day that we get our running game down, and we cut our turnovers," Riley said. "And Curry is one of those guys who I think will grow into a low-turnover player. Now is that proven? No, that's a projection on my part. But he has a savvy, a certain understanding about the game."
Behind Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, who's expected to go No. 1 overall to the Los Angeles Clippers, Hill is the power forward who best fits the Warriors' style of play, Riley said. He said they could draft a power forward other than Hill, but that would be a reach at No. 7.
If the Warriors draft Hill — who, after his workout earlier this month at the team's facility, said coach Don Nelson told him the Warriors would take him if he's available — it would give them three young, athletic and inexperienced power forwards. No matter, Riley said.
"We took power forwards the last (two) years," Riley said. "So at that point, you throw them out there and let them compete and see who can rise to the top. And then you continue to develop the younger players. I don't know who will come out of that scramble with most of the playing time, but the reality is that if you (draft Hill), somebody's probably not going to play much."
If the Warriors select a point guard, Ellis might feel some heat. Riley said a priority is becoming a better passing team and to reduce turnovers. Ellis, in growing to be a point guard, figures to struggle early in those areas.
Riley said he and Nelson went to Memphis earlier this month to "get on the same page" with Ellis. Riley said management communicates with all of its players but visited Ellis because he "was one of the most important ingredients in our team."
It was rumored that the Warriors visited Ellis to talk him off his trade demand and promise him they wouldn't draft a point guard. But Riley said Ellis has never demanded a trade and that the Warriors are heavily considering drafting a point guard.
"I can't speak to what happened before I moved to the front office (in May)," Riley said. "But since I've been there, he has never come to me and said, 'I want to be traded.'""
Riley said Ellis was assured he is a major part of the team. He was told they expected him to be a leader and to play some 40 minutes per night, and also that he was going to have to improve his point guard skills.
"I don't think he could be a full-time point guard," said Nelson, who followed Riley in the media gathering. "No, I think he can be a guard, and I want to steer him in the direction of maybe making more plays for the other guys, understanding that the approach is more than just to score the ball.
"You've got to take care of your teammates a little bit more and have a feel for that as a player. It doesn't matter if he's a point guard or a (shooting guard)."
Riley said the Warriors have settled on four point guards they'd be willing to draft, two of whom he expects to be gone by the time the Warriors are on the clock. Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio is widely expected to be a top-five pick. Curry, many think, also could go in the first six picks. Riley wouldn't provide names, but the two remaining point guards figure to be from among Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Jonny Flynn.
While Ellis figures to be the starting point guard heading into training camp, management has consistently acknowledged his need for improvement and that he's not a true point guard. Riley said he'd hope a little pressure from behind would motivate Ellis.
So, come Thursday, either Ellis or Randolph and Wright will be under the gun. And Riley said he's fine with that.
Contact Marcus Thompson II at firstname.lastname@example.org.