Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft

Brian Witt
NBC Sports BayArea

Mention the name Mike Dunleavy Jr. to a Warriors fan, and you're likely to get a sour face in response.

The No. 3 overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft never lived up to his potential over four-plus seasons in Golden State, and his seemingly relaxed disposition on the court didn't endear him any further. He was quite a talent drop-off from the first two picks of that draft -- Yao Ming and Jay Williams -- and he was selected six picks ahead of Amar'e Stoudemire, among others.

In fact, arguably the most helpful thing he ever did for the Warriors was be involved in the trade that brought Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington over from the Indiana Pacers.

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Time heals all wounds, though, and Dunleavy recently was involved in an important Warriors trade once again.

Dunleavy is back with Golden State, having rejoined the franchise as a pro scout last season. But as The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported Tuesday, it was his involvement in the sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell on July 1 that had plenty to do with his elevation to his current position of assistant general manager.

On the night of June 30, Dunleavy sat in a Manhattan hotel room with Warriors general manager Bob Myers, trying to figure out how Golden State would proceed after learning that Kevin Durant was taking his talents to Brooklyn.

"Bob knew before everybody else, so that gave us a little bit more time to figure out what's next," Dunleavy told Slater. "But once that 6 p.m. time slot hit, things started flying. There was so much real-time action, intel collecting."

Having been based in New York for his scouting duties, Dunleavy got plenty of exposure to Russell during his time with the Nets, which aided in the Warriors' assessment of the dynamic guard.

"I didn't see D'Angelo Russell play live 10, 20 times (like Mike)," Myers said. "There's never been more information available, whether it's analytics, your ability to watch tape, see games, dig into numbers. But I don't think any of it is a substitute for actually going to a game in person, talking to coaches and watching the whole day develop, from when the player gets there to warm up, the stuff fans don't see, interacting on a closer level, how they act when they get subbed out, how they react to winning and losing."

While Myers is at the head of the Warriors' basketball operations department, he encourages a collaborative decision-making process. When it came time to decide on Russell, Dunleavy's familiarity was utilized.

"When we were faced with that short window of time, we certainly asked him," Myers revealed. "He gave a rundown of where he thought he improved, his strengths, potential weaknesses, fit, all that."

The rest, as they say, is history.

With input from Dunleavy, Golden State made the gutsy decision to complete the sign-and-trade for Russell, which required the Warriors to depart with Andre Iguodala and multiple draft picks. The frantic events of the opening hours of free agency actually served to cement Dunleavy's interest in that kind of work, rather than deter it.

"I kind of got addicted to it," Dunleavy admitted.

Over the course of last season, Dunleavy grew more involved in the draft process. He attended several Villanova games, where he studied Golden State's eventual second-round pick Eric Paschall, and was present for the entirety of the Big Ten Tournament, where he saw future first-round pick Jordan Poole play three times. Dunleavy then joined the rest of the front office in Oakland for the remainder of the pre-draft process, including the evaluation of prospect workouts.

[RELATED: Iguodala planned to teach math before titles with Warriors]

Given who the Warriors ultimately selected in the draft, it's evident Golden State liked what Dunleavy had to say about both Poole and Paschall. Then, after he had further proven his value during the madness of the opening hours of free agency, Myers quickly offered Dunleavy his new elevated role.

"I'm not so arrogant to think I know more than he knows about an NBA offense," Myers conceded. "So I'm just positing questions to him. He takes a deeper look -- kind of like Andre (Iguodala) and Shaun (Livingston) -- just a brilliant basketball mind. It kind of comes naturally."

Dunleavy's first go-around with the Warriors was rocky, to say the least. But if Russell proves to be a good acquisition and the draft picks pan out, the second one will be a lot smoother.

Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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