Warriors value Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s basketball smarts over injury concerns

Warriors value Baldwin’s basketball IQ over injury concerns originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s decision to follow his father to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee instead of playing one season at Duke under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t exactly go as planned. It also helped the former top recruit be available once the Warriors were on the clock with the No. 28 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Baldwin played only 11 games for his father’s Milwaukee Panthers as a freshman. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 34.4 percent from the field and 26.6 percent from 3-point range against mid-major competition. But at nearly 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, the Warriors still believe in Baldwin’s talent and sky-high potential, coming to the conclusion the risk is worth the reward.

His basketball IQ clearly stood out to general manager Bob Myers and Golden State’s top decision-makers, too.

“When we watched the movie with him, you could tell he’s a coach’s son,” Myers said Thursday night to reporters at Chase Center after the conclusion of the draft. “Our system requires pretty high-level thinking. He’s versatile; we think he can play with some of our guys.”

The elder Baldwin excelled over his four-year career at Northwestern. He still ranks as the school’s all-time leader in steals and is second in assists. His coaching career has seen stops as an assistant at Green Bay, Loyola, Missouri State and Northwestern. Following Milwaukee’s 10-win campaign in the 2021-22, Baldwin was let go by Milwaukee and reportedly is joining Georgetown’s staff.

He also played professionally in Bosnia and Croatia.

Being the son of a coach and former player far from guarantees a successful NBA career. The Warriors have seen the best of that side in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Andrew Wiggins’ father played six seasons in the NBA, Draymond Green’s aunt, Annette, played for Michigan State and Jordan Poole’s father is a well-known AAU coach.

But it doesn’t always pan out that perfectly. Basketball has been a major part of Baldwin’s life since Day 1, though, and that did n’t go unrecognized when he met with the Warriors.

“Being a coach’s son, not that it makes a player be a good thinker, but most of them are. They’ve been around the game their whole life,” Myers said.

Green will command Baldwin’s basketball IQ to be on display the moment he shares the floor with the four-time champion the first time. Baldwin already is a big fan of Green’s style, especially his leadership.

In an interview with Kahrima Winston of the Sherpherd Express, Baldwin was asked in late February what his basketball aspirations are. His initial response was about stats, accolades or future trophies to put on display. He went a different route.

Baldwin immediately mentioned Draymond. Four months later, the Warriors made the 19-year-old their top pick in the draft.

“One of my inspirations, leadership wise, is Draymond Green,” Baldwin said to Winston. “I know people do n’t say that too often. With his leadership style, I do n’t think people understand that in order to be that type of vocal leader, you have to be that guy who brings it every single night.

“Since I’ve watched Draymond in college and in the NBA, he’s been a guy who brings it every single night.”

It’s no surprise Green was in the Warriors’ draft room, and immediately asked Myers everything there is to know about Baldwin and that he wanted to talk with the teenager as soon as possible. Myers assured the veteran that Baldwin is built the way Green will like.

“Draymond values ​​that kind of thinking player,” Myers said. “He liked it. If he didn’t he’d tell me.”

Myers and the Warriors are fans of how Baldwin is built between his ears. Physically, he still has his hiccups. Baldwin dislocated his ankle in the second game of his senior season in high school, and it clearly lingered into his disappointing college season.

When asked how much the Warriors feel Baldwin’s ankle hurt his game as a freshman, Myers didn’t mince words, instead stating “quite a bit.” The Warriors brought Baldwin in a few days ago and didn’t take him through a full workout. He got some shots up, went through medicals and watched movie. Rick Celebrini, the Warriors’ director of sports medicine and performance, made it clear Baldwin’s ankle isn’t 100 percent right now and he’d have to clear him to play at all in summer league.

The last thing the Warriors will do is rush Baldwin. This was an investment for the future more than anything.

RELATED: NBA draft grades: High-upside Baldwin Jr. worth the risk for Dubs

Going into the draft, the Warriors had a pretty set plan of taking the best player available. They had Baldwin much higher than No. 28 on their big board, and Myers said their newest rookie has had fans in the building for a while now. Talking basketball and getting to know him only added to that fandom.

There’s risks and even some red flags with Baldwin. Highly touted prospects aren’t supposed to have the kind of college season that he had. The last time the Warriors owned the No. 28 pick, it worked out pretty well in adding Jordan Poole, another Milwaukee product. Choosing potential over immediate production was the right call last year with Jonathan Kuminga, too.

Now more than ever, the Warriors are fully invested in player development between the big squad and their G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. Baldwin is their newest experiment, and they see themselves coming out on top with this gamble.

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