The middle of the NBA Draft’s second round is not usually fertile ground for immediate impact players, but the Golden State Warriors could make Ryan Rollins an exception.
The Warriors made a significant move up the draft board in June, dishing out $2 million to the Atlanta Hawks to move up to the No. 44 spot so they could acquire the rights to the Toledo guard. Though Rollins was selected in a range where players often spend their first season in the G League or stashed overseas, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau believes Rollins could slide into Golden State’s rotation right away.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Rollins Up for Big Role
In a profile on the 20-year-old guard, Letourneau noted that Rollins is “no typical second-rounder” and appears to factor into Golden State’s roster plans for next season.
The Warriors’ commitment to Rollins was evident in the contract he signed on July 28. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Warriors gave him a three-year, $4.8 million deal that is fully guaranteed through the first two seasons. The financial commitment seemed to demonstrate faith in Rollins, and the roster makeup could set the stage for him to jump into the rotation, Letourneau wrote.
“Not only did the defending champions sign him Thursday to a three-year, $4.8 million contract, with the first two years fully guaranteed, but by not yet adding a true backup point guard to the 15-man roster, the Warriors also have left open a path for Rollins to earn meaningful minutes this season,” Letourneau noted.
Rollins Helps ‘Win Now’ Mentality
The Warriors struck an unusual path to the title last season, leaning on their proven veterans while also developing a group of promising young players who are expected to form the future core of the team. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas believes that Rollins will be able to help in the immediate term, justifying their hefty investment to draft him.
“In today’s game, $2 million is a lot of money — but it’s not that much when you start talking about the money that’s being thrown around,” Bilas told NBC Sports Bay Area last week for the latest episode of the “Dubs Talk” podcast. “Golden State is winning right now, so if you add a valuable piece to that, it’s worth the money.”
Bilas says that Rollins’s skill set could make him a steal for the Warriors.
“He’s a great talent, a guy who was probably was drafted, you could argue, too low,” Bilas said. “Long arms, really talented, athletic, with a really high basketball IQ. You put him into that system, and he’ll produce. He’ll be a reliable player.”
Rollins could also help alleviate some of the team’s financial crunch, Letourneau noted. The Warriors carried a massive bill with a record $346 payroll and luxury tax last season, and were unable to match high-dollar offers to free agents Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. Fellow veterans Damion Lee, Nemanja Bjelica and Juan Toscano-Anderson also departed in free agency, which could clear the way for the younger — and cheaper — players to take on bigger roles in the upcoming season.