The Golden State Warriors are one of the greatest dynasties the NBA has ever seen. They're coming off five consecutive finals appearances and three championships. Since then, the once-elite franchise has missed the postseason two years in a row. Kevin Durant's departure and Klay Thompson's injury have left Stephen Curry's supporting cast a shell of what it once was. They're paying an enormous amount in luxury taxes. Signing a high-end free agent is out of the question.
It's not all bad, though. They are expecting Thompson back next season. The Warriors managed to get D'Angelo Russell as a consolation prize for losing Durant. They then turned Russell into an effective Andrew Wiggins. Draymond Green is still in peak defensive form. As a team, they were a top-five defense this past season. They have last year's second overall pick James Wiseman and picks #7 and #14 in this year's draft. Oh, and they still have some guy named Stephen Curry.
Speaking of Steph, this season's scoring champion is still elite in every sense of the word. He averaged 32 points per game this past season on a ridiculous 65.5 True Shooting Percentage. These numbers are in line with his unanimous MVP season. In short, it would be an absolute shame for the Warriors to waste the rest of his prime on a middling team.
On the other hand, I do understand the hesitancy. There's no telling what Thompson will look like after suffering two of the most brutal injuries in sports. From an ownership perspective, paying this much in luxury tax for a non-contender must be hurting their pockets. Still, when you have one of the best to ever play, you must give him the best chance possible to win a championship.
The future is now for James Wiseman
As a taxpaying team, it's only logical to want impact players on rookie contracts. James Wiseman is currently nowhere near being an impact player. One can make an argument that he is one of the worst players in the league. He ranks near the bottom of the league in most impact metrics. The Warriors were outscored by 4.7 points per 100 possessions with Wiseman on the court. In contrast, they outscored teams by 3 points per 100 possessions with Wiseman on the bench.
That's not to say he's a bust. He was a rookie who didn't have training camp and a total of 39 NBA games under his belt. Big men, in general, take a long time to develop in the NBA. His speed and fluidity at his size are difficult not to get excited over. Could he be an elite player in a few years? Absolutely. But Steph Curry is 33-years-old, and the Warriors don't have the time to find out.
The same sentiment can be shared with picks #7 and #14 in the 2021 draft. The players drafted in these spots could both be key contributors to a contender down the line. But in years one to three? It isn't easy to imagine. The Warriors should package these assets to build a championship-level supporting cast.
Man in the middle
Several teams may be interested in a package revolving around James Wiseman. The Houston Rockets could be one of those teams. They managed to pry Christian Wood away from the Detroit Pistons. While 25 years old is not ancient by any means, the Houston Rockets are in rebuild mode. They would benefit more long-term from Wiseman and pick #14.
Wood is on a steal of a contract, earning between $13-14 million per year over the next two seasons. That sort of value for a player averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game is unheard of. For a team that ranked 20th in offensive efficiency, adding a player capable of scoring at that level would be a significant boost. The center position is also the Warriors' most considerable position of need.
Another option could be Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner. If the Pacers decide to hit a hard reset a-la OKC, they could do far worse than Wiseman and pick #14. Turner is somewhat of a long shot compared to Wood. The Pacers seem invested in their current core and have yet to show any sign they want to rebuild. The Warriors should see Turner as a contingency if they aren't able to acquire Wood.
Spicy P in The Bay
Now that the Warriors' have taken care of their center situation, it is time to look at other moves they can make. The Athletic's John Hollinger recently reported that the Warriors were looking to package Wiseman and the #7 pick to acquire Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. In this hypothetical, Wiseman would have already been traded for Wood. This means that the Warriors will have to include pick #7 and another two first-round picks. They will also include Andrew Wiggins to make the salaries work.
Wiggins is quite valuable for the Warriors. Still, Siakam is a notable upgrade. While Pascal is "only" a decent number one option, he is an elite number two/three guy. Playing next to Kawhi Leonard, he averaged 16.9 points per game on 62.8 TS% to go along with elite defense. It stands to reason that Siakam will see his efficiency improve in Golden State. With defenses focused on Curry and Thompson on the perimeter, Siakam will have free reign to attack the rim.
Bring Back Kelly Oubre Jr.
The hypothetical starting lineup is versatile. They have a healthy mix of shooting (understatement), playmaking, and defense. That said, the bench is pretty deprived of scoring options. Sure, Steve Kerr can stagger lineups to ensure two of Curry, Thompson, Siakam, and Wood, are on the floor at all times. But it would still help to have the extra scoring punch Kelly Oubre Jr. provides. Oubre isn't exactly the marvel of efficiency. But with the Warriors well over the salary cap, their best option is re-signing Oubre. They can do this by using Oubre's bird rights.
Point Guard: Stephen Curry, Mychel Mulder, Joran Poole
Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson, Juan Toscano-Anderson
Small Forward: Pascal Siakam, Kelly Oubre Jr.
Power Forward: Draymond Green, Eric Paschall
Center: Christian Wood, Kevon Looney
The Warriors should make the above moves to take advantage of the remainder of Curry's prime. They owe it to him to reclaim their place among the NBA's elite.