It all started when the Golden State Warriors executed a sign-and-trade deal with the Brooklyn Nets. Moving two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant and a draft pick (protected 2020 1st that became a future second round pick due to the Warriors 2020 1st falling inside the top 20 picks) to the Nets in return for a package headlined by All Star PG D’Angelo Russell. It made sense for the Warriors to not let a superstar of Durant’s stature walk away for nothing; instead, General Manager Bob Myers future-proofed his organization.
Russell is at his best when he is the primary ball handler in a pick and roll attack. Which is the antithesis of the ball movement offense the Warriors ascended to great heights executing. A questionable fit on paper, he still was a 23 year old all star fresh off of a career season. This made him a valuable asset that the Warriors could in turn flip to a team coveting the All Star point guards services. Russell was consequently dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a package headlined by former number one pick Andrew Wiggins.
The Wiggins factor
From a positional need perspective, Wiggins is an immediate upgrade over Russell. Giving the Warriors a player they can slide into a starting wing spot. The team offers a fresh start for Wiggins who struggled living up to lofty expectations since entering the league. A clean slate with an organization renown for putting it’s culture above any one individual could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Perhaps this could tap into the immense potential that Wiggins has displayed sporadically dating back to his days at Kansas. Wiggins slashing ability paired with the Splash Brothers could be the recipe for success that gets this high octane offense back on track.
The underrated asset
The deal also included the Timberwolves sending the Warriors its first and second round picks in 2021. It’s worth noting the 2021 first-round pick becomes unprotected in 2022. The acquisition of this pick really shines a light on the brilliance of the brain-trust in the Warriors front office. While acknowledging the Timberwolves have a reason for optimism pairing Russell with Karl-Anthony Towns. Even still the roster is not as deep or talented as many of its Western Conference counterparts. It becomes easy to see a path to the pick the Warriors acquired landing in the lottery either of the next two seasons. Having another possible lottery pick will be invaluable to a team who has aspirations of returning to title contention.
These assets give the Warriors the ultimate flexibility going forward. Giving them the ability to supplement a championship core with players picked in the lottery on rookie wage scaled contracts. Alternatively if they choose to pivot they could also flip those picks (and the rookie wages that they come with) to another team for a player closer to or in their prime that the Warriors might believe give them a greater chance to win now. Recognizing the value of these assets has allowed the Warriors to extend their championship window for the foreseeable future.