The NBA season is underway and teams that thought they would contend for the title have struggled out of the gate. The 2020-21 campaign is just beginning, but there are still Trades that Turn Pretenders into Contenders.
The Trades that Turn Pretenders into Contenders
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have played worse than their 2-3 record in the early stretch of the season. Golden State’s two victories came against a struggling Bulls team and a rebuilding Pistons team. In their games against the Nets, Bucks, and Trail Blazers, the Dubs lost by 26, 39, and 25.
Golden State came into the season with lofty expectations led by Stephen Curry, but have yet to meet them. However, there are trades that can turn one of the league’s pretenders into one of the NBA’s contenders.
This may be the most over-reactionary teams on the pretenders list, but losing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in the offseason weakened their big man rotation. Four games into the season, the Raptors are 1-3, with their only win against the Knicks.
With recent playoff success, the Raptors came into this year’s campaign with championship expectations, but have stumbled out of the gate. There is still a lot of seasons left, but there are trades that can be made to turn the Raptors into one of the league’s top contenders.
Any time a team trades for a former MVP, they expect to be a contender. However starting off the season at 1-5, Washington has shown to be one of the league’s top pretenders. Even though trade rumors have circulated around the Wizards superstar guard, Bradley Beal, there are other trades that can be made to salvage the slow start.
Last year the Nuggets took a step forward, reaching the Western Conference Finals. But after a stagnant offseason for Denver, Jokic and company have started the season at a lackluster 1-5. Even with an MVP level talent in the Joker, the Nuggets have shown to be a pretender out of the gate. Obviously, time will tell with Denver, but there are trades that can be made to turn one of the surprise pretenders into the contender’s fans thought they would be.
The Trade the Turn Pretenders into Contenders
Golden State Warriors
Buddy Hield has seen his name in trade rumors over the past few years. But with the emergence of rookie, Tyrese Haliburton in Sacramento, now would be an optimal time to sell high on Hield. Wiggins is far from the prime option to get back, however the two future firsts could be a lottery ticket for the Kings if Golden State continues to struggle.
For Golden State, a light out 3-point shooter in Hield is now paired up with one of the best shooters in NBA history. The former Oklahoma Sooner is a prolific scorer, and a new setting could bode well for both Hield and the Warriors. Add in Bjelica for a veteran floor spacer off the bench, and the Warriors will quickly return to one of the league’s top contenders. Here are more trades that could Turn Pretenders into Contenders
In what is one of the more interesting trades suggested, the Raptors make a move for the expiring contract of Lauri Markkanen. As mentioned previously, the Toronto big man rotation took a hit this offseason, but this trade bolsters the power forward position. Trading away Powell allows Toronto to play their young guards in Terence Davis and Malachi Flynn off the bench as well. Markkanen adds a much-needed floor spacer to play alongside Pascal Siakam, who is a career 33.3% 3-point shooter.
Both Lauri and the Bulls have made it clear that a contract extension is in question for the future, so moving on from him and acquiring pieces may be in order. Sure Powell and McCaw are not the best return, but both can play roles in a rotation. It is one of the more questionable trades for both sides, but it certainly turns the Raptors into one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.
In an attempt to get younger the San Antonio Spurs send one of their veterans to one of the pretenders in the NBA. Rudy Gay has not been the most efficient out of the gate, shooting less than 40% through his first five games. But, adding his experience and length boosts Washington’s rotation.
On the flip side, trading away the young duo of Troy Brown Jr. and Jerome Robinson for expiring 34 years old may be a bit questionable for the Wizards. But making the moves they did this offseason proves they are all in to become one of the few championship contenders, and making trades like this doubles down on going all in for the championship.
If Denver wants to go all-in for the championship, trading for a player of Derozan’s caliber will put them in the right direction. The trade down to its core is upgrading Gary Harris. The Nuggets will take a hit defensively, but the offense will take a huge jump in the right direction.
Adding Derozan allows for another creator to playoff Jokic and creates arguably the best starting five in the western conference of Murray-Derozan-Barton–Porter Jr.-Jokic. Add in some solid depth options and the Nuggets become the contenders everyone expected them to be.
Obviously it is Early
The season is only five to six games into the season and any one of these four teams could figure it out and get rid of the pretender’s label. But if they want to become the contenders each were expected to be, these trades have to be considered.
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