NBA

Should the Golden State Warriors make this trade?

Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns

Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman (if the Warriors draft him), for Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr. Who says no?

The Golden State Warriors are aiming to become Championship contenders again after a freak year last season which saw them finish with the worst record in the entire NBA. After losing in the Finals to the Toronto Raptors the previous season, Golden State started the year in an unfamiliar position. The departures of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston broke up the team that had been so dominant for several years. Klay Thompson was also set to miss the entire season and then just a few games in, Steph Curry picked up an injury that kept him side-lined for most of the year. The Warriors struggled throughout and finished with a dismal 15-50 record.

However, armed with the 2nd overall pick and the ‘Splash Brothers’ coming back fully fit and recharged, they are aiming to win it all once again.

The question surrounding the Golden State Warriors is “What are they going to do with the 2nd pick?” Many pundits and fans have been debating this and the consensus is that they will use it as a trade piece in acquiring some experienced talent. With Steph and Klay being 32 and 30, they only have a few years left at their peaks and many believe the Warriors must be in win now mode.

Andrew Wiggins. Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins in action for the Golden State Warriors. Credit- Warriorswire

What do the Golden State Warriors need?

The Warriors need defence and depth. They have two of the best shooters ever, scoring is not an issue. Their problem is their lack of a solid defensive big man and the lack of depth on the bench. Kevon Looney has been ok for them in recent years, but he struggles to stay fit and he lacks quality to be the starting centre on a Championship team. Their bench as it stands is Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Alen Smailagic and Marquese Chriss. Paschall had a great rookie season and made the 1st team all-rookie team, a great pick up by the Warriors’ scouts. However, the bench still lacks quality that a contending team would ideally have. It is too young. Yet that is the bench’s main strength, it is young. It is a double-edged sword. The Warriors would prefer more experience and talent but at the same time, the players on the bench will constantly be improving and developing.

The trade

Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr for Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman (if they draft him which looks highly likely). This trade makes sense for both teams. Whilst Phoenix are not in a position that they need or want to trade Ayton, this offer might be too good of a gamble to say no to. Pairing Wiggins with Booker gives Phoenix two consistent 20ppg players alongside the exciting Wiseman who is expected to hit the ground running and average close to Ayton’s 18ppg and 11rpg. Warriors would be delighted with this trade getting the much-coveted big man they need in Ayton as well as a solid starter in Oubre.

Perfect fit for the Warriors

Ayton would be a perfect addition to the Warriors side, his game would go in hand in hand with Steph Curry’s system. His offensive capabilities would be maximised on a strong shooting team and he would provide valuable size and length. Although he gets criticism for his defence, it would still be an improvement on what they have at the five, and it would be expected to improve greatly under Draymond Green’s mentoring and leadership. Oubre Jr would be a solid addition to the Warrior’s starting five in place of Wiggins. He brings tenacious defence and is a solid shooter averaging 35% on 5.5 threes a game last season. His high-flying dunks would make him a fan favourite in the Bay.

Kelly Oubre Jr of the Phoenix Suns
Kelly Oubre Jr in action for the Phoneix Suns. Credit Brightsideofthesun

A risk worth taking for the Suns?

For Phoenix, this trade is interesting. Ayton was the number one pick back in 2018 and has performed very well in Arizona. He missed 25 games at the beginning of last season due to a suspension for use of a banned substance. This hurt the Suns, they won just 10 of 25 games he missed. Ayton played 38 games throughout the 2019/2020 season and in these games, Phoenix went 20-18. This shows his importance to the team’s success. Therefore, it would be a tough trade for the Warriors to pull off, the Suns want to build a playoff team before they miss their window with Booker and Ayton is crucial to that as the second star.

However, adding both Wiggins and Wiseman is an intriguing scenario for Phoenix. Adding Wiggins gives them at least 20ppg and a solid defender which solves their two main issues, lack of scoring around Booker and defensive frailties. The former number one pick looked destined for greatness before entering the league and despite being a solid NBA player, he hasn’t quite made the leap to an all-star.  On the other hand, Minnesota has a reputation for not developing young talents and a change of scenery could really boost Wiggins confidence and help him make the leap to an all-star calibre player.

James Wiseman is a big what if. He was the projected number one pick in this draft class before withdrawing from college after just three games following an NCAA suspension. This hurt his draft stock massively as scouts have little to go off compared to other prospects. Despite this, he is still expected to be a top three pick as his raw talent and psychical attributes are truly mouth-watering. He has almost identical measurements to Ayton. Both men stand at 7 foot in shoes, Wiseman boasts the superior wingspan with 7’4 compared to Ayton’s 7’0 and Ayton is just 20 pounds heavier. Wiseman’s draft profile states that he has nimble feet, excellent agility, great speed and runs the floor very well. He also possesses great natural shot blocking ability and above average perimeter defence. Although he does not have a solid jumper yet, that will develop over time with coaching in the NBA. Wiseman is an extraordinary talent with all the facets to become one of the best big men in the league. A swap for Ayton would intrigue Phoenix. Is it worth the gamble?

James Wiseman. Top draft prospect
James Wiseman in action for the Memphis Tigers. Credit- Bleacher Report

Conclusion

This trade is eye catching and divides opinion. The Warriors are in win now mode, the problem for them, so are Phoenix. Ayton is the blockbuster piece for Golden State that gives them the big man they desperately need and Oubre is a solid addition. For Phoenix, they value Ayton, he has performed well for them since being drafted and continues to improve. However, is he going to be the second star talent they need? Trading for Wiseman and Wiggins would be a massive gamble for an organisation that craves playoff stability. It could be a masterstroke, or it could be a disaster. Wiseman and Wiggins could be the dynamic duo that propel Booker and the Suns to playoff success. Both have the potential to become all-star talents. Or it could be disastrous and set them back, at a time when they finally look like they are becoming a playoff team. The Warriors have many options available to them in the coming months and their front office will be busy deciding how to move forward. This trade is one of the best available to them in the current shape of the NBA and it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.

All trades viable at time of writing according to http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine

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