Fix (noun): a position of difficulty and embarrassment.
Fix (verb): renew, restore, or set in order.
For the Golden State Warriors, ‘fix’ is more than just a word with different definitions. It is part of the franchise’s ethos since they have brought in players that are afterthoughts on other teams and turned them into players that complement the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Right now, it is their theme, vision, and mission statement going forward after an embarrassing and injury plagued 2019-20 season. To get out of the fix of this past season they must fix themselves.
Contextually, the Warriors’ predicament isn’t as bad as the season’s results indicate. If there is a thing as the best of the worst case scenario, that’s what the ‘Dubs have.
What they most need, of course, is a healthy Curry and Thompson to pair with a recharged Green. Also at their disposal, the Warriors have recent addition that possesses vast potential in Andrew Wiggins and a likely top-five lottery pick this year, a pick from the Wiggins deal in the 2021 NBA Draft, and a $17.2 million mid-level exemption from the Andre Iguodala trade last summer. However, Warriors GM Bob Meyers must ensure that he makes the most sensible and wise decisions in how he reconstructs and reloads this roster.
Before the pandemic hit, Golden State was already working with little salary cap space, and it may be even less as the NBA assesses the financial casualties caused by the shutdown. Those challenges aside, the Warriors can still come out of the ashes of their lost season and emerge as serious Western Conference contenders based on a few key decisions they make during the offseason.
Draft Day Dilemma
When it was evident the Warriors would have a losing season, the comparisons between Golden State and the 1996 San Antonio Spurs were prevalent. During that particular season, the Spurs sputtered through an injury plagued 20-62 campaign. They won the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery and selected Tim Duncan with the No. 1 pick. Two years later, Duncan and a healthy David Robinson won the first of the Spurs’ five titles.
While this year’s draft might not feature a truly transcendent player like Duncan or a consensus No. 1 selection, it is considered to be talent rich and their draft position will dictate their action. Let’s say the Warriors end up with the No. 1 pick (or even land among the top three), like most teams they‘ll more than likely draft based on talent as opposed to need. If the Warriors win the lottery, reports have indicated they would pick Georgia’s Anthony Edwards. Another name to look for is Villanova’s Saddiq Bey. The former might have the most hype, but the later might be the better fit.
Bey, a likely lottery pick according to the latest Complex Sports mock draft, is a 6’8” forward with a 6’11” wingspan who can guard multiple positions and knock down a 3. Plus, it wouldn’t take Bey long to get acclimated with the sets that the Dubs run. According to Warriors rookie Eric Paschall, the Warriors and Wildcats run pretty similar sets.
A potentially more logical approach if the Warriors wind up with the fourth or fifth pick is to trade it away for someone who can come in and immediately contribute and/or acquiring more picks for future drafts.
Trading For Giannis?
It’s no secret that the Warriors are:
A) Like every team, always looking for ways to improve their roster
B) Rumored as a destination for Giannis Antetokounmpo
With the way that the Warriors are constructed, the only star that makes sense for them to add is Antetokounmpo. Since Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn, the Warriors have had a massive hole to fill and the Greek Freak, who will be a free agent after next season and hasn’t been shy about his admiration for Curry, has been rumored to end up in Golden State. But how realistic is it?
Many expect Antetokounmpo to sign a max extension with Milwaukee when it’s presented to him at the end of the season. And the most realistic way that he lands in Golden State, as of right now, is if he demands a trade. For the sake of discussion, let’s say Antetokounmpo asks for that trade. What will it take to get it done? Make no mistake about it, Wiggins and a starting lineup of future draft picks is not enough. The Warriors would have to add either Thompson or Green in the deal. Who would they dangle? Who should they dangle?
The value of Thompson’s deal has been questioned by some and its been characterized as a liability for the Warriors. The logic is understandable. Thompson is 30 and coming off an ACL injury. However, there are more reasons to believe that the contract isn’t a liability. First of all, Thompson’s game isn’t based on athleticism. Offensively, he never could create his own shot off the dribble anyway. He doesn’t drive the lane often. The concern is defensively. He might lose a bit of lateral quickness. However, he might not.
Secondly, Thompson had an entire season to rest. He has been cleared to rehab, and training camp will more than likely begin in November. So why doubt that he will be the same player especially since he has otherwise been durable?
As for Green, he may be the most vulnerable. He also turned 30 this year, but unlike Thompson, his game may have aged a bit. Remember, Green is an undersized four playing center in the Warriors’ small-ball lineups. He’s been battered and injured. He has also become a liability on offence. So he may be the most expendable in a trade situation.
However, last season was a lost year, so expending Green in meaningless games didn’t make much sense. Green is an important part of the core. He’s the one setting the table more often than not and he’s their best defender. With a healthy Curry and Thompson, don’t bet against Green returning to form.
If you can trade for Antetokounmpo, you make just about any deal every day of the week. The Warriors will have to wrestle with is who from the core is the most expendable?
What Can Wiggins Do?
Andrew Wiggins is the latest player that the Warriors will try to fix and they may be stuck with him since the Dubs absorbed Wiggins bloated max contract in the D’Angelo Russell trade. With not much cap room and the notion of getting Antetokounmpo far-fetched, Wiggins resurrection will more than likely determine how successful next year’s Warriors squad can be.
Wiggins has always had the potential. He just couldn’t realize it in an environment like Minnesota. The biggest issue with Wiggins isn’t whether or not he can score. The issue here is consistency on both sides of the ball. If assistant Ron Adams and the other Warriors coaches could unlock Wiggins’ potential and get him to be more consistent, and actually play some defense, the Warriors are for sure a playoff team.
Additions in Free Agency
The Warriors spent this past season capped-out and will almost assuredly be light years past the expected decreased salary cap for next season. However, they still have the potential to thrive in free agency, if the price is right and they get creative. Not only does Golden State have a $17.2 million trade exemption as a result of the Iguodala deal with the Grizzlies, they also have a taxpayer mid-level exemption at their disposal that will be determined by next year’s cap. This season’s mid-level exemption was $5.7 million. Since the Warriors will forever search for a productive replacement for KD, they’d love to use the exemption on a wing. Vets such as Paul Milsaps, Marc Gasol, or Serge Ibaka could be targets. And there are more realistic options that will fit in their price range.
Take Miami’s Jae Crowder for instance. For the Warriors, he could add toughness and grit at the wing. While he may be a streaky shooter, Crowder’s value is in his stability, and that’s very vital to a young group of players. Economically, Golden State may be able to afford him since his salary, at $7.8 million could fall between the veteran minimum and the MLE.
The Warriors could also realistically re-sign Philadelphia’s Glenn Robinson III or Alec Burks to fill out the bench. Robinson and Burks were casualties of the Warriors’ hard cap bind that they had to shed on the trade deadline. Either one of these two makes sense fit wise. They spent half of a season in the Warriors’ system and they produced. They also make sense as far as salary fit is concerned. Robinson’s salary is $1.8 million, while Burks’ is $2.3. At $5.7 million and the fact that these two know the system, signing either of these two might be the best the Warriors could do at the moment.