As all of the fans and players are focused on the NBA bubble, there is one team that is patiently waiting to get healthy and add one more championship to their dynasty. The Golden State Warriors fell from their prior greatness to the worst record in the NBA without their three best players. Durant will not return, as he will make his debut for the Brooklyn Nets next season, but hope is not lost as the splash brothers have spent all year recovering from their respective injuries and are poised to come back better than ever.
Without Durant, the Warriors’ core of Curry, Thompson, and Green did win a championship and complete a 73-9 season together. In addition to star players coming back healthy, the dubs will also own the right to use or trade the 2nd overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
While there are several players they could draft that would serve Golden State well next year, trading the pick for a multitude of quality role players or an All-Star caliber player seems to be the better strategy if the Warriors are intent on competing.
One player that would have some trade value is Andrew Wiggins despite the fact that they acquired him only a few months ago. Wiggins’ contract allows him to equal out another player going to Golden State especially if it is a star player. Eric Paschall is the Warriors lone young piece that could be available in trade talks and could be used to sweeten their offer for a star player.
Even though Wiggins and Paschall are players that could find success in Golden State because of their unique ability to develop players, the players that could be available on the other end of the phone might be too enticing for the Warrior to pass up.
- Rudy Gobert/Bojan Bogdanovic
A Warriors trade with the Utah Jazz would make sense on both fronts. The Jazz possess a solid roster with pieces that can, at the bare minimum, be a starter and add value to the Warriors reloaded roster. Rudy Gobert is one of the Warriors’ best options for a star player on the market because he would slot right into the rotation as their starting big man, and he is due for a big contract that Utah might not be willing to pay.
Gobert might be one of the best available All-Star caliber players, but there are a couple of reasons why the Warriors wouldn’t want to acquire him.
First, Wiggins would have to be moved in order for the Warriors to afford Gobert. Second, while he is the best pure rim protector in the league, he might not fit the Warriors system offensively which is predicated on ball movement and shooting.
Another option on the Jazz roster is Bojan Bogdanovic which might not require giving up that coveted second overall pick. Bogdanovic would most definitely fit very well and provide them with another great catch and shoot option on the wing, and he is also a capable defender who could hamper elite wings. If the deal were to get done, the Warriors could give up Paschall, Wiggins, and a future first-round pick or two.
2. Nikola Vucevic/Aaron Gordon
In the landscape of the NBA, the Magic fall in the unfortunate void of mediocrity. This void consists of teams that have some nice young pieces and maybe even a star or two but have way too many holes to be a contending team. If the Warriors offered up their 2020 first-round pick, the Magic would surely be willing to make their entire roster available in a trade.
Nikola Vucevic would be the best option when you balance his quality as a player with financial flexibility and team fit. He would be slotted right in as the starting center and be able to stretch the floor and shoot which fits the Warriors system perfectly. He is also a very good passer for a big man and he will not be looking for a long term extension as he becomes a free agent in 2023.
In return, the Magic would get the second pick in this year’s draft and most likely Wiggins because his contract is close to Vucevic in terms of average salary per year. Similar to the Jazz, there is another piece on the Magic that could be moved if a deal cannot get done.
Aaron Gordon is a player that the Magic seem to be running out of patience with, as he hasn’t improved his game as much as they would have liked to at this point. Moving to Golden State, however, might be the perfect situation for him, as he could grow his game alongside other great players and a culture of winning and development. In return, the Magic might receive Wiggins and both franchises could exchange players with lots of talent that have yet to meet their high expectations.
3. Bradley Beal
Since this is a trade talk article, I suppose I’m required to talk about Bradley Beal moving out of Washington to a better situation. All jokes aside, a trade for Beal could make sense for both teams. For Golden State, they would be adding another offensive star as Beal is one of four players in NBA history to average over 30 ppg, 5 assists, and 45% from the field in a single season. The other three are Jordan, Harden, and none other than his would-be teammate Steph Curry.
The Warriors offense would instantly be unstoppable by adding Beal who is a player that would naturally fit with Thompson and Curry. Thompson would move to the three which is okay because of his size for a guard. Defensively, Beal isn’t exactly a lockdown defender but the Warriors have proven that they can improve a player’s defense once they arrive. Durant played the best defense of his career with the Warriors and Harrison Barnes’ defensive prowess and effort declined once he left the bay.
In return, the Warriors would give up the coveted pick this year and probably Eric Paschall as well because Washington is in dire need of acquiring as much young talent as possible. Washington seems content right now with keeping Beal and getting Wall back for another run in the Eastern Conference.
Even though Beal is committed to Washington, the second overall pick would give them a chance to start over and build a new core around whoever they choose. Add Paschall to the mix and maybe even a little bit more draft capital and the Wizards could take the bait and go into a full rebuild.
4. Steven Adams, Darius Bazley
A deal with the Thunder should be on the table as their ultimate goal is to rebuild with young talent. The Warriors pick would give them a chance to get a building block earlier than anticipated because of the fact that their stockpile of draft picks will start in a couple of years. Steven Adams will be a piece the Thunder should be willing to part with and could fit well with the Warriors.
In their past, the Warriors have not relied on a star big man, but rather someone who can protect the paint, rebound, and finish well from passes by Curry or Draymond. Adams would fit that bill as he is a little past his prime but can still be productive in those areas previously mentioned while also having contract stability as he will still be under contract for a few years.
The complicated part of the deal would be what the Warriors give up. The pick has more value than just Adams so what could the Warriors want in addition to Adams? Darius Bazley has emerged as a smooth stroking lefty shooter with a lot of upside that could again be developed into the best version of himself in Golden State.
If the Warriors wanted to get a piece that could help them now, then the Thunder could do a sign and trade with Gallinari since he is a free agent this offseason. There are quite a few options that both teams would consider if Adams is a target for the Warriors.
5. LaMarcus Aldridge, Marco Belinelli
A Warriors/Spurs trade would be very interesting given that both have completed their own respective dynasties and both find themselves in the lottery this year. Regardless, Aldridge and Belinelli are both pieces that the Spurs would make available if the Warriors approached them with that coveted pick.
Since both are getting older and the Spurs are starting to undergo a process of getting younger, both make perfect targets for the Warriors win-now mentality. Aldridge would be a great small ball fit because of his style of play and him and Belinelli both provide shooting to complement the splash brothers. Belinelli would come in off the bench and be a spark plug while Aldridge could fit the stretch five role in the Warriors small-ball lineup of death.
If the Warriors decide to draft a prospect from this year’s pool instead of trading the pick, there are only two options they should consider. James Wiseman and Deni Avdija are both top five prospects that would fit what the Warriors need, and they would serve as a building block for the post splash brother era.
James Wiseman seems like the more obvious pick as he would come in and immediately start at the center position for a championship-caliber team. Wiseman would give the Warriors an athletic freak of nature kind of player that has a deeper post-game than most elite prospects coming into the NBA and great rebounding and rim protection skills to fill that gap on the current Warriors roster.
He also has shown flashes of becoming a reliable three-point shooter and that process would no doubt be sped up by being in Golden State with two of the greatest shooters of all time.
One other intriguing prospect is Deni Avdija from Israel. His outstanding basketball IQ and playmaking ability will allow him to fit well anywhere in the league. He is by far the most versatile player in the draft as he stands 6 foot 9 inches tall but can handle the ball like a guard and can be a team’s primary playmaker.
On top of his instincts being far above the crowd, he also has the tools to be an effective shooter and scorer off the dribble as well as the ability to drive to the hole with his physical profile. Avdija’s passing abilities and natural feel for the game paired with the Warriors system of ball movement could be a perfect fit and help the Warriors championship odds right off the bat.
One more possible option that would seem unconventional but just might be the right move is to draft LaMelo Ball and then trade him to the highest bidder. Ball, in lots of people’s eyes, is the best prospect in the draft and even if he’s not, Edwards would have most likely been taken by the Timberwolves the pick before.
This means that the Warriors no longer have a pick to offer, but rather a player that can turn into a star and be a face of a franchise-type guy. This would be very risky as the teams who would want Ball don’t necessarily have the best trade pieces that would peak the Warriors interest.