In the wake of reports that the Pacers are finally looking to blow it up in Indy, talk of the Golden State Warriors making a play for big man Myles Turner has been given new life. However, not everyone is buying the notion that the Warriors would give up James Wiseman — the likely price to play — in a deal.
For his part, team insider Tim Kawakami says that the Warriors are “absolutely, positively” not trading the former No. 2 overall pick. And while he gave a number of reasons for reaching that conclusion, one worth noting was that the club looks to be satisfied with its center position as is.
Via The Athletic:
The Warriors have closed with Draymond [Green] at center in the biggest games for years and aren’t about to stop doing it now…
Also, while [Kevon] Looney has his obvious weaknesses as an offensive player and when matched against larger centers, Steve Kerr is more than happy to start each half with him out there playing sound defense and setting great picks for [Stephen] Curry and Klay [Thompson].
There may be a lot of truth to those statements, but here’s another dose of it — the Warriors just got exposed down low by the Philadelphia 76ers. And it’s a scenario that could play out again during the later stages of the playoffs.
Embiid & Drummond Provide a Blueprint for Beating Up the Warriors
Although Curry’s struggles grabbed the headlines, there’s no doubting that Philly’s beasting in the paint played a major role in Golden State losing 102-93 on Saturday and falling to 21-5. During the game, Sixers star Joel Embiid and backup Andre Drummond combined for 35 points, 18 rebounds and four steals.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were outscored by 23 points in the 13 minutes that they were forced to go with backup big man Nemanja Bjelica. And Green was minus-five as well.
One could point to this and call it an anomaly; the Sixers have an ultra-big center rotation the likes of which the Warriors won’t see a lot of. However, some of the team’s biggest rivals in the Western Conference present the same problem.
The Suns are trotting out former No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton, who is averaging 16 and 11 this season and has good mobility for a near-seven-footer. His backup, former Warrior JaVale McGee, also measures seven feet and is in the midst of one of his best-ever seasons.
Then there’s the Jazz, who can trot out 48 minutes of elite shot-blocking, screening and rim-rolling with All-Star big man and three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert, along with Hassan Whiteside. Even the Lakers have Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard.
Say what you will about the Los Angeles, Phoenix and Utah are likely the teams that stand between the Warriors and getting back to the Finals. And they both have a major advantage in the pivot.
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Can Looney and Wiseman Do It?
Whether you believe this is actually a problem for the Warriors probably depends on how you feel about Looney and Wiseman. For his part, the former is a pro’s pro who will always give effort on both ends. At just 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, though, he’s too small to keep the aforementioned lot in check.
He’s also not good enough at anything offensively to give them much trouble on the other end.
As for Wiseman, there’s no denying that he’s got star potential. When Steph and Klay are in their last years, he’s probably the exact kind of player you want to have picking up their slack. Right now, though, he’s extremely raw and unpracticed in the ways of big-time, championship-level basketball.
Players of that ilk — their physical talent and potential notwithstanding — rarely contribute to winning in a meaningful way and Wiseman is no different. Last season, the Warriors were outscored by 8.8 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor.
Does this mean you trade him for Turner or another more experienced big man with size and skill? Maybe, maybe not, but by doing nothing Golden State likely leaves itself open to further exploitation at the hands of contending teams that are stocked in the middle.