A trade deadline for the ages took place on Thursday, February 10, as Golden State chose to stand pat. About 10 different deals took place Thursday morning and into the afternoon, yet none of them involved the Warriors.
There weren’t too many significant changes in the Western Conference but the crop of the West did get a little active.
Hopefuls and Contenders Swinging Deals
The Phoenix Suns added forward Torrey Craig in exchange for former #10 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, big man Jalen Smith, and in a separate deal, they acquired guard Aaron Holiday from Washington in exchange for cash considerations. Neither deal moves the needle a ton for Phoenix but I’ve long admired Craig as a defender in this league and he’s a guy Phoenix can throw at the Stephen Curry’s and the Luka Doncic’s and the Donovan Mitchell’s of the world come playoff time.
The Utah Jazz acquired guard/wing Nickeil Alexander-Walker and forward Juancho Hernangomez and sent out two second-round picks, Elijah Hughes, and fan-favorite Joe Ingles who recently had a season-ending ACL injury.
The Clippers were a part of two different trades; They acquired forward Robert Covington and guard/wing Norman Powell for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, and a second-round pick. Then yesterday they went out and got wing Rodney Hood and wing Semi Ojeleye in a four-team deal as they sent out center Serge Ibaka to the Bucks.
Again, the top of the West didn’t make any drastic moves and the Warriors shouldn’t be unsettled by anything that went down in their own conference, but there was a major shakeup by two contending teams in the Eastern Conference as James Harden was moved to Philadelphia in a deal that sent Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and a first-round pick to Brooklyn. Obviously, Golden State needs to get to the Finals before they really worry about anything happening in the Eastern Conference, but two of the top contenders in the East just raised their potential ceiling as a team. This is part of why the Warriors should really consider adding some size on the buy-out market.
Should the Warriors Feel Worried?
In short, no, but it’s not that simple. No fellow Western Conference contenders added stars or anything, but the #1 team in the conference improved and the Jazz brought in some guys that will help more than Joe Ingles in street clothes would have come playoff time.
Playoff series are highly dependent on how team’s matchup and one of the few advantages just about every team in the league has against the Warriors is size. And when you look at the Jazz and the Suns, a big part of both of their teams are big men Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Ayton. Neither one of those guys is really known to eat teams alive by scoring the ball but Ayton especially has that ability. Gobert has had some issues staying on the floor in the playoffs, and Draymond Green and the Warriors small-ball lineup may just play him off the court if they were to face off in the postseason, but – basketball gods, don’t let this happen – what if he were to go down for a couple of games? Or if he gets in foul trouble? You have to be prepared for any and every situation. Putting all of your marbles into James Wiseman as your big center is a bit dicey considering he hasn’t played a game yet this season.
Even as recent as last night in a game without Green the Warriors got out-rebounded by 13 in a two-point loss to the Knicks, including 16 offensive rebounds for the Knicks.
The Warriors have the player archetype for just about every situation that could be thrown at them besides having a beefier center inside. And maybe the Warriors are banking on them forcing other teams to play out of their usual style as they like to play small, which often happened and played much into the favor of the Warriors over the course of their five consecutive Finals’ appearances from 2015-2019, but I would like to see them have insurance if that plan were to go haywire.
And if the Warriors do reach the ultimate goal of a Finals appearance, they’re likely to face off with a bruiser out East – take your pick of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, or to a lesser extent Bam Adebayo. It’s tough to feel comfortable throwing Wiseman at any of those guys in a playoff series and that leaves you with a bunch of guys who are undersized trying to guard players who can and will bang in the post. Granted, one of those guys is one of the best defenders of all time in Draymond Green and he typically makes up for a lot, but it is a slight roll of the dice if the Warriors rock with the 15-man roster they have now for the rest of the way.
Maybe Bob Meyers feels that there’s no difference-maker worth going after that’s still a free agent or soon-to-be bought out, but I think it’s a mistake if they don’t bring in a bigger center for the home stretch of the season and into the playoffs. In the end, it might not ever be much of an issue but there’s no real reason to even risk it.
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