Dubs Lead

Dubs’ “Gap Year” Unveiling New Assets for Next Season

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The Golden State Warriors have lost eight straight, but who’s counting? They are at the bottom of the Western standings, very injured, young and inexperienced. The chatter around them, however, is beginning to pick up. As we reach the halfway mark of this season, the trade deadline, offseason and next season are starting to appear on the radar. More importantly, the Warriors seem to be accumulating some good assets on the court that make them relevant in many ways. While the D’Angelo Russell trade murmurs have been around since the day he came to town, they are evolving into rumors now. Plus, several other intriguing youngsters are exciting the Dubs fanbase as well.

Baby Dubs

This year’s Dubs are looking pretty close to a young G-League roster. On any given night, they typically have between $75 million and $125 million in veteran salaries on the bench dressed in fancy street clothes. Young players don’t always play consistent, make smart decisions or adjust defensively, but the good ones do show you flashes of brilliance. Now and then, they open a small crack in the proverbial window into the future. The discerning NBA types can look through that window and project out into the future. This leads to hope for the fans, but also in potential transactions for the future. Here’s 19-year-old Alen Smailagic turning some heads despite being super raw:

 

This season has always been about the future for the Dubs, whether they want to admit that or not. That became an accepted reality once Stephen Curry broke his hand and the losses started accumulating. Dub Nation immediately started thinking about next season and started calling this the “gap year”. All the losing also meant they will have a top pick in the upcoming draft– a key asset. Impressive play by youngsters like Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman, and Alen Smailagić has added to that basket of assets. Last but not the least, D’Angelo Russell is still the headliner in all of their trade chatter.

Re-tool and Contend

Since Curry and Klay will come back and make this team better instantly next season, the Warriors won’t be orchestrating a complete rebuild around the youngsters. Instead, they’ll try to rebuild a contender quickly around the Splash brothers and see where these youngsters fit. If they don’t fit, how do you convert them in to pieces that do help make the Dubs legitimate contenders next year? The question of fit has two dimensions– one is, how does their game and position fit? This is where we have questions like if and how D-Lo can be effective around the Splash brothers. The other kind of fit that makes this re-tooling complicated is age and alignment.

Curry, Klay, and Dray are not getting any younger. They will all be in their 30’s before this season ends. They are in their prime now, but will be exiting it soon. So, the team cannot be too young and inexperienced around them if they want to contend soon. The front office needs to have a long-term plan for the post-Curry era, however. They will try to pull a fascinating balancing act juggling these conflicting needs. They will ideally try to bring in a young superstar who can help now and take over from Curry later. Those don’t grow on trees, however, and won’t be easy to get. In fact, Russell is one of the few who falls in this category, though they may want to add somebody who has a higher ceiling and fits better around the Splash brothers than D-Lo.

Potential Trades

As we near the trade deadline, real names are beginning to be floated in a potential D’Angelo trade. Would Philly be willing to trade Ben Simmons for a package involving Russell and the first round pick? Can Eric Paschall sweeten that pot even more to convince Philly? How about Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota? Is he happy or would he force his way out of there? Would the Dubs get in on that? Does Orlando really need or want Russell? Do the Dubs have any interest in Aaron Gordon? We are beginning to hear and read a lot of content around these topics.

The Warriors are the franchise that snatched Kevin Durant out of nowhere to build a super team that dominated the league for three years. KD might have been a lucky break for them and something they cannot easily replicate, but the Dubs are sure to try again.

They have shown they are resourceful and are equipped to swing for the fences. This gap year has given them some unique assets and opportunities to retool the team. Showcasing the youngsters have elevated some of their trade value as well and provided the Dubs some new pieces to place around Curry. So don’t sleep on the Dubs. Expect them to be very relevant again in the NBA landscape from this point on. They sure won’t be on your TV screens during the playoffs. But they are trending towards being a big player in the always-interesting player-movement landscape of the NBA.

Follow us on Twitter @DubsLead for the latest Warriors news and insight.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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