Why Baron Davis picked over Wilt Chamberlain in Warriors Ultimate Draft

Dalton Johnson
NBC Sports BayArea

Editor's note: Monte Poole, Logan Murdock, Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann participated in NBC Sports Bay Area's inaugural Warriors Ultimate Draft. All four chose squads from a 25-man pool of legends from the last 30 years, plus five "classic" players from before 1990. Our team of experts will dissect and analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

In building a roster capable of contending in today's NBA, my strategy was based on filling four essential elements: Efficient 3-point shooting, at least one true 3-and-D wing and a big man able to discourage drives into the paint.

The fourth component, hubris, deserves a separate space.

The squad that I put together in NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors Ultimate Draft, selected from a pool of 25 players with the franchise between 1990-2020, gives me all four. I'm confident that I have what I need to chase a ring.

My first-round pick, small forward Chris Mullin, shot 41.4 percent from deep over his final 10 seasons. Credit his ability to replace compulsive drinking with a freakish devotion to physical fitness. Mully would be our Reggie Miller, our Klay Thompson, constantly in motion, coming off screens and drilling triples.

My second-round pick, point guard Baron Davis, stunned my fellow general managers -- Grant Liffman, Logan Murdock and Drew Shiller -- because Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain was on the board. Why pass on Wilt for a BD? I'll explain.

One, I believed I'd be able to find another Hall of Fame center in a later round. Two, Davis was equal parts incredible skill and unlimited hubris -- two characteristics shared by all great point guards, from Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson to Damian Lillard and Steph Curry. And three, I like the idea of introducing him at home games while the greatest dunk in Warriors history is on the video board.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

My search for a 3-and-D wing led me to Latrell Sprewell, who left the franchise in a thick cloud of insolence but also was a three-time All-Star (as a Warrior) but also was an All-Defensive team choice and a first-team All-NBA guard. Spree was provocative with coaches and teammates, but there is no question my third-round pick could play lockdown defense while also averaging 24.2 points per game -- the highest single-season total of any Warriors shooting guard.

I'd leave it to Davis and my big man, Nate Thurmond, to keep Spree and his hubris within the boundaries of being a good teammate.

I nabbed Nate in the fourth round. No Warriors center, ever, could match his level of defense. It felt wonderful to use a fourth pick to snag a big man possessing the rare defensive trifecta -- on-ball, in space, at the rim -- who also averaged more than 20 points per game during his seven prime seasons.

My fifth and sixth picks were combo guard Gilbert Arenas (more hubris) and combo forward Billy Owens. Warriors fans were as displeased to see Arenas leave as they were to see Owens show up.

[RELATED: Warriors Ultimate Draft snubs: Attles, Biedrins not picked]

Both men, however, could play. Billy O would start at power forward and consistently fill every significant column on the stat. In his best season as a Warrior, he averaged 15.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 50.7 percent. Owens couldn't defend at the level of Draymond Green, but he had similar offensive skills and was a more efficient scorer.

It's not Billy's fault that he was the other aspect of the trade that sent Mitch Richmond to Sacramento.

Which brings me to Arenas, my Sixth Man who is among the most lethal scorers of the millennium. Gilbert played only two seasons -- 129 games -- as a Warrior. His first coach, Dave Cowens, didn't trust the rookie, never started him and was fired six weeks into the season. Cowens' replacement, Brian Winters in an interim capacity, saw Arenas' ability and started him over the final 26 games.

In his second season, under his third coach, Eric Musselman, Arenas started all 82 games at point guard. He averaged 18.3 points and 6.3 assists. Gilbert's departure as a free agent still pains longtime fans.

Well, he's back with the Warriors. And he's on a very talented team.

Why Baron Davis picked over Wilt Chamberlain in Warriors Ultimate Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

What to Read Next