Click photo to enlarge
Golden State Warriors' #8 Monta Ellis, right, gets around Memphis grizzlies' #34 Hasheem Thabeet, left, in the first period of their basketball game held at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. (Doug Duran/Staff)

The Warriors' labyrinth of an offseason gets its first answer tonight when they learn where they will draft.

The NBA draft lottery, which will take place before the Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic matchup, is the first and perhaps most vital step in the Warriors' renovation. Which free agents they go after, whom they trade, even possibly how much the franchise sells for, will be impacted by how these ping-pong balls bounce.

"This will affect how we handle things from here on out," general manager Larry Riley said. "It's a little nerve-racking because it's out of our control."

Riley will represent the Warriors at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, N.J. He said he won't have any good luck charm, but he is hoping things "don't go south on us."

The Warriors, who finished 26-56, have about a 33 percent chance of landing a top-three pick. Golden State has a 10.4 percent chance of securing the No. 1 selection, which figures to change the franchise dramatically.

Based on Riley's draft philosophy, which he said is to take the best player available instead of drafting for need, winning the No. 1 pick would likely mean the Warriors take Kentucky point guard John Wall, almost unanimously regarded as the best player in college and certainly the most popular.

Drafting Wall would mean a crowded backcourt, with guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry already in tow. So bringing in Wall probably would mean the departure of Ellis. Curry is all but untouchable after his standout rookie season.


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Drafting Wall also would give owner Chris Cohan a bargaining chip in his bid to sell the team. Adding the talent and personality of Wall presumably brightens the Warriors' future, maybe even adding value to the franchise.

Even if the Warriors don't wind up with the No. 1 pick, a ripple effect from the draft lottery is still expected. If Riley lands one of his favorites, it would make a member on the current roster expendable and influence what type of players the Warriors look to acquire this offseason.

For instance, if the Warriors draft a big man such as Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors or Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins, it would almost force Golden State to trade center Andris Biedrins or Ronny Turiaf. It also would mean the Warriors wouldn't be scouring the trade market for a center.

Golden State could trade its top pick.

The Warriors could drop as low as seventh in the draft, but falling out of the top three or four might leave the Warriors wanting. Considering the reputed lack of elite talent in this draft, and the Warriors' need for experience, packaging their selection with a player or two might produce the best returns.

"Whatever the case," Riley said, "we have to take the pick and make it something of value."

Just the facts
WHEN: Today, 5 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: NBA Entertainment Studios, Secaucus, N.J.
WHY: To determine the order of the top 14 picks of the 2010 NBA draft, which will be held June 24.
HOW IT WORKS: The first three picks in the draft will be determined by the lottery, and the remainder of the lottery teams will select in positions 4 through 14 in inverse order of their consolidated standings at the end of the regular season.