Warriors' Top Trade Priorities Entering 2022

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 30, 2021

Warriors' Top Trade Priorities Entering 2022

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    There were times in the not-so-distant past when it seemed the Golden State Warriors would be one of the biggest buyers—if not the biggest—of the 2021-22 NBA trade season.

    But a 27-7 sprint out of the starting block might have changed those plans, especially when considering that record—the league's best heading into Wednesday night—has been comprised entirely without Klay Thompson or James Wiseman.

    Things could change between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline, of course, particularly if the club encounters any unexpected turbulence. It's also possible the front office feels it needs to take a big swing at the trade market in hopes of giving 33-year-old Stephen Curry the best chance possible at adding to his championship collection.

    Assuming Golden State eschews major moves, though, the following three niche areas could be worth upgrading.


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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Two players on the roster stand taller than 6'9"—stretch center Nemanja Bjelica, a finesse player in every sense, and Wiseman, a 20-year-old sophomore who showed his age during an injury-riddled rookie season.

    That's it.

    And that's a potential problem with Golden State's championship road potentially running through top-tier centers like Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid and Deandre Ayton.

    The Warriors have long stressed skill over size, and they won't (and shouldn't) try re-inventing the wheel during trade season. But they've also seen the impact of having a banger like Andrew Bogut or a bouncy 7-footer like JaVale McGee.

    Maybe Wiseman can fill that void, but if the Warriors are anything less than absolutely sure he can, they'll want to explore all available 7-footers.

Shot Creation

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Catch Golden State's offense in its best moments, and it really is poetry in motion. The players and the ball are perpetually moving, and a series of solid screens and smart passes often ends up in a clean look from long range or a prime opportunity at the basket.

    But if you catch the Warriors when Stephen Curry is sitting, you almost never see that kind of magic. Without their MVP candidate floor general, their attack loses a whopping 13.2 points per 100 possessions.

    A healthy Klay Thompson should provide some protection, but he won't completely scratch the itches for non-Curry shot-creating and playmaking.

    Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole—the second and third scoring options, respectively—offer some off-the-dribble verve, but their point production and efficiency can fluctuate. Beyond them, there isn't another shot-creating threat who seriously scares opposing defenses.

    The Warriors don't seem keen on parting with the trade capital needed to grab an impact offensive weapon, but a bargain ball-mover could help grease the gears for the Curry-less attack.

Cheap Shooting

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Golden State's clearance-priced investments in Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica this offseason might have already paid for themselves.

    That might motivate the Warriors to sniff out further floor-spacing values.

    It could seem a little strange to stress the need for more shooting, when all of this team's three-point marks are elite. But so much of that success is tied to Curry, and once you move past him, a healthy Thompson and apparently a Golden State University-schooled Andrew Wiggins, the splashers really start to thin out.

    If Gary Payton II's shooting proves anomalous and regresses to his mean, he'll join Draymond Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney and Juan Toscano-Anderson as below-average-or-worse shooters in this rotation. That's enough to wonder whether the Warriors can maintain optimal spacing against playoff defenses working tirelessly to magnify and exploit weaknesses.