Warriors' Blueprint for 2022 NBA Trade Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2022

Warriors' Blueprint for 2022 NBA Trade Deadline

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    It's only for a brief stretch, and maybe it means nothing, but the Golden State Warriors have seemed mortal for the first time over the past few weeks.

    Since sprinting out to a 27-6 start to open the 2021-22 NBA campaign, they've gone 5-6 over their last 11 outings. Injuries have cropped up, the offense has hit a few rough patches, and 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman still hasn't returned.

    Could this have the Warriors more open to taking an aggressive approach at the upcoming trade deadline? Or would they laugh off the notion while pointing to the much larger sample size that painted this club as a full-fledged elite—if not the team to beat?

    The latter feels more likely, and, again, that might be the best way to handle this iteration of swap season. Still, this mini-swoon could make Golden State one of the more interesting teams to track leading up to the Feb. 10 cutoff.

1. Keep Ears Open on Young Players Not Named Jonathan Kuminga

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    Justin Ford/Getty Images

    Golden State should have seen enough from Jonathan Kuminga already to make the 19-year-old firmly off-limits in any trade talks. He can contribute to their championship run right now and boasts the ceiling of a skyscraper.

    But what will the Warriors make of Wiseman? He's still awaiting his season debut following April 15 meniscus surgery and a cleanup procedure in December, meaning the only NBA film for him is a rookie year that sprinkled moments of brilliance between prolonged stretches that revealed the raw state of his skills. He could be great down the line, but are the Dubs willing to wait?

    And what's the deal with Moses Moody? He was billed as more NBA-ready than Kuminga thanks to a three-and-D skill set that seemingly offered plug-and-play potential. But the campaign is past the midpoint, and he hasn't cracked 200 minutes yet. It's too early to tell what kind of career he'll have, but not too early to wonder whether he'll provide anything of value during the stretch run or subsequent postseason.

    The Warriors aren't expected to make any of these three available, per B/R's Eric Pincus, but it might behoove them to quietly gauge the market for Wiseman and Moody. They don't need to deal either one, but if an obvious, substantial upgrade is available, that's at least worth a conversation.

2. Find Out Which Stars Are Available And For How Much

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    Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

    As you've heard a time or 10,000, the NBA is controlled by stars. If the Warriors are going to take the title this season, they need to be 1,000 percent certain they're good in that department.

    Stephen Curry's heavy offensive burden has put a damper on his typically pristine shooting rates. Klay Thompson understandably has some rust to knock off after a two-plus-year absence. Draymond Green is down for at least the next two weeks with a back problem impacting his calf injury.

    If Golden State has any concerns about that trio—or worries with the supporting cast—it should cast a wide net in its search for potential upgrades. Even if the Warriors don't plan on splurging, they should at least know the market for stars in case the right player becomes available at the right price.

    Myles Turner intrigues with his shot-blocking and floor-spacing combo. Jerami Grant almost universally appeals to contenders with his two-way talent. The still-stranded-in-Philly Ben Simmons offers borderline unrivaled defensive versatility and loads of playmaking. While it's unlikely any of these players relocates to the Bay, Golden State should leave no stone unturned.

3. Search for Cheap Size

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Yes, the Warriors might have won multiple titles on the strength of their small-ball attack, but undersized centers are exactly as they sound—undersized.

    Kevon Looney stands just 6'9" tall. Green is only 6'8". Wiseman is the lone 7-footer on the roster, and his outlook is as murky as anyone's.

    The need for bigs isn't actually a big need, but they nevertheless might want to scratch this itch, particularly if they're at all hesitant about giving Wiseman meaningful minutes. Asking Looney and Green to level-up against the biggest and best centers in basketball is literally a tall task.

    Golden State should already be scanning the clearance shelves for discounted bigs. A reliable veteran who can soak up double-digit minutes and make opposing 7-footers feel their presence could have a quietly important impact on this club. It's not worth paying full price, but if the Warriors look hard enough, they should be able to sniff out a bargain.