Dubs Lead

State of the Dubs: Post-Wiggins Trade Outlook on the Warriors

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A rebuild? A restructure? A revitalization? A gap year? The Process?

Whatever it’s named, the Warriors set it in motion with their trade that sent D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans to Minnesota in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a protected 2021 first-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick. Russell played well, averaging 23 points and six assists per game in his time in the Bay Area, but his style never quite fit with the Warriors’ free-flowing motion offense.

Now enters Wiggins, who has nearly identical stats to Russell in terms of scoring efficiency. The move frees up what would have been an overcrowded backcourt with Stephen Curry on the verge of returning. It’s fair to ask whether giving up Durant for Wiggins and a protected first-round pick is a worthwhile trade, or why they made the trade in the first place. Even as the front office claims the trade was due to their belief in Wiggins, the move brings them under the luxury tax threshold, saving them around $40 million, and gives them a potentially high draft pick in a loaded 2021 draft class.

What’s certain is the Warriors now have the wing player they’ve been missing since Durant left in the offseason. Wiggins is nowhere near the level of Durant, but at the least, he serves the role of an overpaid Harrison Barnes. His on-ball and off-ball cutting will create space for Curry and Klay Thompson

Evaluating Wiggins Trade Sample Size

In three games with the Warriors, Wiggins has put to rest the worries of his inefficiencies. In his first game on Saturday against the Lakers, Wiggins struggled to start. He showcased the contested mid-range shots and hesitance to move that plagued his offensive days in Minnesota. But as his comfort grew, he showed flashes of why he was a number-one overall pick.

After an 18-point game against the Miami Heat, Wiggins had another efficient night against the Phoenix Suns. He shot over 60% from the field and 75% from behind the arc on his way to a 27-point game. With no Curry or Thompson, Wiggins has thrived as the focal point of the offense. The team is giving him opportunities to excel as shown here on a play designed for him.

With few scoring options on the Warriors, Wiggins learned to use the defensive pressure he attracts to create opportunities for his teammates. His underrated passing skills are given new light with the Warriors. On this play, he does an excellent job inviting the double team off the screen to give Marquese Chriss an open lane to the basket for the alley-oop.

Salary Cap Implications

We may never receive a clear answer from Warriors executives on why they went through with the trade. However, looking at their salary cap numbers it becomes clear they had millions of reasons. The move saves them money this season and prevents them from paying the repeater tax next season. The team is projected to be just over $8 million above the luxury tax threshold giving them around a $20 million tax bill next season. That amount that would’ve been closer to $40 million under the repeater tax.

Luckily for the Warriors, they’ll have close to $20 million in trade exceptions to fill out the remaining roster spots. This season they filled the team with two-way players Damion Lee, Ky Bowman, and Marquese Chriss who earned fully guaranteed contracts. They’ll have options to move players who established themselves this season or keep some consistency within the rotation.

At the beginning of the season, Warriors owner Joe Lacob told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, “You don’t get better by trying to lose. Our entire organization is about winning. And we will win. Some bumps in the road, perhaps. But we will never accept losing.” The Wiggins trade proves the Warriors won’t acclimate to their recent losing ways. If Wiggins succeeds in the Bay Area, this front office may truly be “light-years” ahead. Even if Wiggins can’t fulfill his potential, the Warriors still have potential lottery picks in both 2020 and 2021. Not to mention, they have millions in trade exceptions to build themselves a solid rotation. This season may be filled with losses, but this trade could make the Warriors winners once again.

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