There’s a misconception of what “tanking” looks like. A lot of people equate it with players and coaches throwing games, but at the core tanking is really about de-prioritizing winning in the near term in order to be better able to succeed later on. The Golden State Warriors, with a flurry of moves at the trade deadline, have sent a clear signal to the league that they will be spending the rest of this season tanking.
While the Warriors have dumped talent and salary in the past, we have not seen such profligate actions along these lines since Joe Lacob purchased the team. The front office has certainly earned our trust that there will be a plan to improve this roster over the offseason, but in the meantime, the tank is in full effect for the remainder of the 2019-2020 NBA season.
The Warriors traded six of their fourteen players, Wiley Cauley-Stein, Alec Bruks, Glenn Robinson; and then today’s big move of D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans. In return? Andrew Wiggins, and his hugely negative-value contract are now attached to the Warriors.
But back to tanking. This move was not about any of the current players, this trade deadline was all about dropping the team out of the luxury tax line this season, and grabbing as many draft picks as possible. Under those criteria, this was a fairly successful trade season for Golden State. Wiggins comes with a 2021 top-3 protected first-round draft pick and a 2021 second-round draft pick; all the other trades brought them a bevy of second round picks (Utah and Dallas in 2020, Denver in 2021, Toronto 2022, and then oddly, Golden State re-acquired their own 2022 second-round pick).
If this was a renovation project for a house, you could say the the Warriors took it down to the studs - which actually makes sense if you think that the team needed to be rebuilt more than retooled.
Before we get to Wiggins, let’s just consider the roster moves that the Warriors have made and how thoroughly the team has cleared the proverbial deck for a run at another big-name free agent in the upcoming offseason:
This was a pretty bold “pardon our dust” sort of trade deadline for Golden State. They jettisoned Cauley-Stein’s guaranteed deal, as well as Jacob Evans (who was struggling mightily), and Omari Spellman. My guess is that the Warriors are planning on using some combination of those newly acquired draft picks, one of the above players [cough*WIGGINS*cough], as well as their $17 million dollar trade exception to chase someone significant.
The trade exceptions is tricky in that it can only be applied to single-player trades - situations where one player is traded for a draft pick (which the Warriors now have plenty of). On top of if it all, Golden State is now pretty well assured to finish with the worst record in the league and the resultant strongest chance for a top-3 pick in the upcoming draft.
The general framework could look like this:
Wiggins and one or two first-rounders for a malcontent star player - let's say Joel Embiid (since both players make exactly $29.5 million next season).
Then use more picks and the trade exception to land a major player - let's say for example that the Warriors use this to lift Andre Iguodala back out of Miami.
That's a roster that can chase a championship ring. Both of those trades are wild, but Bob Myers and the Warriors have pulled of greater miracles.
We have come full circle.
Back in 2014, the last time the Warriors tanked, there was a catchy pithy phrase: “riggin’ for Wiggins". Though his career hasn’t exactly panned out, Wiggins was the number one pick in that draft and it is a lovely symmetry to imagine him stepping into the role of the player that the Warriors drafted that year, Harrison Barnes.
But can he? One of the main reasons why Wiggins is so highly touted was his size. He’s 6' 8" in shoes with a healthy 7' 0" wingspan, and 8" 11" standing reach. But from Anthony Randolph to Brandon Wright, the NBA landscape is littered with the corpses of failed careers of promising young athletes.
The Warriors organization will certainly tell us that they believe in Wiggins, but they’ve also said that they really wanted to see Russell play alongside Curry and Klay Thompson.
So, can we believe in Wiggins too?
It’s going to take some convincing.
Offensively it’s no better, as per Cleaning the Glass, Wiggins consistently rates as a below average player. These are his shooting splits, remember that the most recent years are on the bottom, white percentage is the raw statistic, the highlighted colors are percentile rank (where higher is better) - blue highlights are bad.
So he is (on paper) tremendously bad on defense, and just plain bad on offense.
Or is he?
This is going to be the part the Warriors want to sell right now: Wiggins can be pretty dominant. Here are his season highs in all major statistical categories over the course of his career; again, the most recent years are the bottom of this table:
Per game this year, Wiggins is putting up a solid stat line: 23.3 points (on a reasonable efficiency of .535 TS%), 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 0.9 blocks. That’s not bad. Is it worth a maximum dollar contract? Probably not, but Wiggins is not, as the kids like to say “trash;” there are some redeeming qualities to his game.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Wiggins has recently developed a more facilitator role on offense, assisting on 18.2% of his teammates made shots while on the floor - good enough to land him in the 87% percentile among players at his position.
The hope here - assuming the Warriors hang on to him - is that Wiggins will fill the void at small forward for this team and in so doing will find all the best parts of his game. If his scoring efficiency improved playing in Kerr’s system with Curry and Thompson (likely) and he can emphasize the facilitation rather than scoring aspects of his game, he could fit in here.
I’m sorry, but I have to back out and give the Warriors’ trade deadline activities a resounding “incomplete” grade. This is not a functional roster, and will certainly go through a major overhaul before the start of next season. Golden State has been doing a lot of shuffling and gaming with their limited assets, but it will take another blockbuster trade or two for these moves to make sense.
In the meantime, the Warriors are in full tank mode, which will be hard on the eyeballs, but should absolutely cement Golden State’s position at the bottom of the standings as they pursue a top draft pick. And freeing the team from the punitive repeater tax may make it easier to rebuild next year.
But that doesn’t help us much this season.
I’ve watched some videos. Wiggins seems much more prone to fast break than Dlo, isn’t that good news for our return to old style?
I must admit I'm unprepared on economics, and I'm a very recently acquired fan, so the whole Dubs story might be unclear to me. But it seems to me that the whole process of these deals, that revolves around the luxury and repeater tax, is a sort of sacrifice that the management asks to the supporters in exchange to five trips to the finals. It seems symbolised by the spheres outside Chase Center, with their mirrors to show to the supporter "look how much you enjoyed these five years, now what can you endure for us in exchange?"
That Zach Lowe Bobby Marks podcast left me feeling a bit better about the trade. Two main takeaways
1). The disconnect between what the fans value Russell and what executives value Russell is pretty big. Russell has limited trade value in the eyes of NBA FOs
2). That 2021 first rounder may NOT have been there had the Warriors waited till the off-season
Man that MT3 article on the Athletic was a piece of beauty. Noticed the 'Warriors Insiders' (worse than Bob Fitzgerald imo) on Twitter spinning this shit as if the Dubs had this perfectly planned all along. mT3 probably writes the fairest article as to what the FO may have or not have been considering when they traded for DLo.
I can only reply to the top comments of comment threads. Anyone else encountering that? New to this article, it seems.
I need to know more about Ender’s game cuz I’m wiggin out
This deadline has been a whirlwind...
Still trying to make sense of it. And I know it is not the popular opinion. But avoiding the repeater tax is huge for us. Save 40 million this year, possibly 60 million next year. And it allows us to go “big game hunting” as several pundits said it.
I HATE Wiggins!!! I cannot stress that enough. But I also don’t believe he could have netted us anything we were truly coveting. So for that I stay indifferent and cannot rate this until after the offseason moves happen. That is when we will all know if this was worth it or not.
But looking at it financially, it made complete sense for the warriors and opened up more possibilities than before. For not I’m grading this a B. (Due to the 2021 protected pick). Time will tell. But this team is going to be hard to watch. Let’s go Smiley!!!
[Anthony Slater]”Per source: Warriors signing Zach Norvell to a 10-day contract to fill another vacancy. He's a lefty scoring guard. Currently averaging 16 points per game in G-League, shooting 40 percent from 3.”
Well, one good thing: Ky signs a muli-year deal
TOWN BIZ! Juan Toscano @juanonjuan10 is signing a contract for the rest of the year. Oakland’s own makes the NBA!
I'm a bit more apprehensive about the future than I was before the deadline, but I'm actually looking forward to Saturday's game now, just to see the return of Bowman, etc. and of course curiosity about Wiggins. So I guess there's that.
(2/2) The 2021 Wolves should be better than: - the Knicks (unless they actually get a star player in FA), Cavs
might be better than: - the Hawks, Hornets, Wizards (especially if they trade Beal and reset), Pistons (if they trade Rose, Blake, etc)
In the West, I think they pass they Kings (almost guaranteed), and the Suns. So although their ceiling in the West is still 12th, the Dubs 2021 Wolves pick could slip to 9th. That would translate to a 2022 2nd-rounder of ~40th. Not bad, but not great, considering a trade for Booker could happen next year. Still, with their stars lacking defense, I don't see them breaking into the top 10 in the west, let alone the playoffs.
Whether that's worth taking on Wiggins remains to be seen, but considering Durant was going to leave for nothing, and Iguodala wouldn't have been useful on a tanking team, not that bad of a haul, especially with the lottery odds the way they are.
(1/2) If the Wolves were in the East, I'd be mad at Myers: DLo + Towns is at least a low-lottery team in the East (the Bulls are only 3.5 games out of 8th right now), and almost certainly over .500, given the schedule difference. But the real question is: are the Wolves + DLo - RoCo + better depth + top 5 pick this year enough to knock the Warriors 2021 pick into mid-lottery or worse territory (albeit in a deeper and better draft than this year's)?
[if Myers drafts LaMelo this year, I take back pretty much everything good I've said about him]
Isn't Wiggins's contract widely considered one of the most untradeable contracts in the league?
Ugh. WNBA can't start soon enough
Occam's Razor so I'm probably in the wrong here but I wouldn't be surprised if DLo went to.management and quietly insisted to be traded preferably to Minny. There are a couple of tidbits on there on social media to allow said speculation. I do think LIKE I tried to explain to Memphis fans about Iguodala till I was blue in the face THAT DLo probably had a general idea of the Warriors intent and took the guarantee of a max in exchange to play along and up his trade value or even make himself attractive long term.
I think he sensed it that it wasn't necessarily trending that way AND once Minny came out
explicitly with their desire, I think this made a bit of logical sense.l for him to ask out. O get Warriors should have waited and I still contend they could have gotten more but DLo may have also played himself out of more favorable deals as the season went on.
This of course is my speculation and the only way of allowing myself to grieve at the moment.
Maybe they can revive Wiggins's career like they did with McGee and Chriss. I dunno. I'm being blindly optimistic. But who knows?
If only they had waited for the summer ... I really don't care if Wiggins is a better fit for the team, I don't even want to see him play. But Dlo was our ticket to acquire a better player, someone at an all star level, or at least someone better than Wiggins. We let Burke, GIII, Spellman and the Dlo go ...
I can't be more angry ...
The Warriors seem to be trying to surround Steph, Klay, and Draymond with freaky athletic guys that aren't very good at basketball and scrubs. Who knows, it might work. Wiggins at least has the size to be good at defense and it's not like D'Lo was an all defensive team selection either.
With Wiggins taking on the HB role, if it works we can go back to playing old-school Splash Brothers basketball. Steph and Klay can play their preferred style in their preferred position without deferring to KD or DLo or Boogie or anybody. I sure hope it works!
Now, before you criticize, I want you all to know that the cover image is probably the finest photoshop work I've ever done (ok, it was MS Paint, but the point stands)