November 18, 2020

5 Players the Warriors Should Target in a Trade

The Warriors find themselves in a unique position relative to the rest of the NBA. Golden State owns the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft after a brutal season that was marred by injuries to the Splash Brothers. But, unlike most teams that are picking that high in the draft, they're expected to compete for a title in the upcoming campaign. That begs the question: Should they trade their prized pick for an established star who could potentially help them squeeze another ring out of their aging core? Or should they keep the pick and develop their next homegrown star who can usher in a new era of Warriors basketball?

With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all on the wrong side of 30, there is likely some urgency to improve the team now, meaning the Dubs’ No. 2 overall pick this year, plus the Timberwolves’ 2021 first-rounder they acquired in the D’Angelo Russell trade, should be up for grabs.

If the Warriors decide to deal the pick, who should they target? Here are five (somewhat) realistic targets in the trade market this offseason. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Trade 1: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, 2020 No. 2 overall pick and Timberwolves' Top-3 Protected 2021 1st for Giannis Antetokounmpo

Relax, Bucks fans. The Bucks probably won't trade the Greek Freak. But that doesn’t mean the Warriors should not target him. Giannis already has a rapport with Curry, and they share the same agency, which is always an underrated wild card when assessing the potential viability of a deal. The on-court fit with the Warriors is a no-brainer. Plop him next to the Splash Brothers, Draymond and any 3-and-D wing you can find, and — voila! — you have yourselves a championship contender.

For the Bucks, this would represent a very respectable haul if they were to part ways with the Greek Freak. Andrew Wiggins is not perfect by any means, but he’s a proven scorer who is still just 25. The real prize of this deal would be the picks, though. The Warriors first-rounder would be one of James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, and in a tough Western Conference next season, that Wolves pick looks like it could be very valuable as well. 

If the Greek Freak turns down the Bucks' max-contract offer, then Milwaukee might look to make a massive move and trade Giannis before losing him for nothing. If the nuclear option happens for the Bucks, then there would probably be better deals on the table than what the Dubs can offer, but if Antetokounmpo makes it clear he'd only re-sign with the Warriors, then all bets are off and this would instantly be the Bucks' best option. 

Bradley Beal

Trade 2: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, 2020 No. 2 overall pick and Timberwolves' Top-3 Protected 2021 1st for Bradley Beal

While the Warriors might hope that they can steal Bradley Beal without having to surrender the Timberwolves pick, it's unlikely that the Wizards would take anything less than what the Dubs would offer for the Greek Freak. The Wizards are set to bring John Wall back from injury, and they likely will want to give the playoffs another shot with the revamped core of Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans — assuming they re-sign him — before committing to another teardown. If they were to go the rebuild direction, netting a top draft prospect, 21-year-old Jordan Poole, Wiggins and a future first is a pretty solid haul.

For the Warriors, trading for Beal would be an absolute no-brainer. He could transform the Splash Brothers into Splash Triplets with his career average of 38% from 3, as well as his expert playmaking abilities. And at just 27, Beal is in the sweet spot of being able to help the old Warriors core compete for a title, and be a part of the next one.

Joel Embiid

Trade 3: Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, 2020 No. 2 overall pick and Timberwolves top-3 protected 2021 1st for Joel Embiid

Here's a spicy trade. While the Sixers are highly unlikely to break up Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid after hiring former Clippers coach Doc Rivers, if they do decide to hit the red button, the Warriors will be waiting to pounce.

If the Sixers pulled off this deal, they could bring in LaMelo Ball to play point guard to create a beautifully versatile and playmaker-friendly frontcourt with Simmons and Green. Add the Wolves' 2021 1st as another means of acquiring another talented youngster, and the team could go from having no salary cap space to having a lot more flexibility. Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Ball, Simmons and Green with Al Horford as an overqualified sixth man would afford the proper spacing and the requisite defense to cover for Ball.

For Embiid, the Warriors could offer him basketball nirvana. He's had to play his entire career with subpar spacing, which invites constant double teams and turnovers. With Curry and Thompson stretching defenses like taffy, it'd be that much easier for Embiid to dominate the paint. 

Blake Griffin

Trade 4: Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole for Blake Griffin

Poor Andrew Wiggins. The guy can't go one hypothetical trade offer without being thrown in. Being that the Warriors are a top-heavy team loaded with four massive contracts while the rest of the roster is filled with minimum contracts, Wiggins is the most logical player to be traded to match salaries.

While Wiggins should benefit from the Warriors' pace-and-space and pass-first attitude, trading for Griffin gives a team with an already stellar backcourt possibly the best playmaking frontcourt in the league. Both Griffin and Draymond are excellent passers who can serve as de facto point guards when Curry is resting. Griffin’s fit with Green may have been suspect in the past, but now they would thrive as a small-ball tandem strong enough to bang with bigger bodies and nimble enough to stick with quicker opponents.

From the Pistons’ perspective, Wiggins makes $7 million less per year than Griffin, who is now 31 and has a long history of injuries. Even though Wiggins has one more year on his deal compared to Griffin, he’s young and would be a scoring machine. Nabbing Poole, whose fearlessness as a rookie was promising, is a nice bonus. 

Buddy Hield

Trade 5: Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole for Buddy Hield

This trade only works once Hield’s new contract commences when the new league year starts. The Kings seemed to have soured on Hield after extending his contract, benching him in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic down the stretch this season. With Vlade Divac out the door, anything could happen in Sacramento, and that includes moving on from Hield.

Trading a sharpshooting guard in the prime of his career during the shooting boom is not the greatest idea, sure, but if Hield’s relationship with coach Luke Walton and the front office is an issue, then they might have no choice but to field offers.

Wiggins is similar to Harrison Barnes, whom the Kings are already paying big money. And while Wiggins has a reputation as a gunslinger who won’t pass, he quietly averaged 4.2 assists in March for the Warriors before play was suspended. As for concerns about having two similar players, NBA teams can never have too many 6-foot-8 athletic wing players who can create their own shots. At least, that’s how the Kings could rationalize this move.

For the Warriors, they can complete their Splash Trio without having to give up one of their prized picks. Seriously, the shooting would be so ridiculous that Adam Silver may have to run on the court and draw a new 3-point line halfway through the first game.

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration