Proposed Trade Puts Warriors ‘Over the Top’ With New Starting Pivot

Steve Kerr James Wiseman

Getty Steve Kerr coaches James Wiseman during a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Indiana Pacers.

Kevon Looney has always been the lunchpail guy for the Golden State Warriors, but he achieved a higher level of hustle during the 2022 NBA Playoffs. So, it came as no surprise when the club opted to reward him with a three-year, $22.5 million contract this summer.

Despite the good mojo surrounding him and his situation with the Warriors, though — not to mention the presence of former No. 2 pick James Wiseman — there’s still a thought that the Dubs could use a little something more down low. That something being a legit seven-footer with chops on both ends of the court.

In a feature seeking to identify trade targets to put each of the league’s contending teams “over the top,” Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley just namechecked one such big man as someone who the Warriors should be interested in.

That player: San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, who’s in the final year of his current deal with the rebuilding club.

Trade Proposal Bringing Poeltl to the Bay Area

Highlights: Jakob Poeltl's Defense | 2021-22 San Antonio Spurs SeasonTop defensive plays from San Antonio Spurs Center Jakob Poeltl's 2021-22 season. Jakob recorded 634 REB, 118 BLK and 45 STL on the season!2022-04-27T16:04:10Z

Buckley’s argument on Poeltl’s behalf (and over the Dubs’ current big man crop) definitely echoed some of the sentiments we’ve been hearing since before February’s trade deadline.

“Kevon Looney is rock-solid, but he’ll never be confused for a spectacular talent,” he wrote, while also adding that Wiseman “might lack the polish to contribute to a championship chase right now.”

Assuming those things are true, this is the deal we’re proposing to get Poeltl to the Bay:

  • Golden State Warriors receive C Jakob Poeltl
  • San Antonio Spurs receive C James Wiseman and a lottery-protected, first-round pick in 2026

As noted in the B/R piece, SpursTalk’s LJ Ellis has reported that San Antonio is seeking not one, but two first-round picks for Poeltl. It’s a stiff price to be sure but, at the same time, Poeltl has been flying under the radar as one of the best two-way bigs in the Association and, as of this writing, he has not yet turned 27.

By sending them Wiseman, the Spurs essentially get the equivalent of two first-rounders from the Dubs here, and the protection on the pick is such that Golden State should be able to stomach parting with it.

In return, the defending champs finally get off of the Wiseman rollercoaster while acquiring a player with an ultra-desirable skill set.

Poeltl Was Sneaky Elite for the Spurs in ’21-22

Make no mistake — Poeltl isn’t the floor-spacing, play-making big that’s all the rage in the modern NBA. At the same time, though, he’s not just another plodding center that you have to hide on one or both sides of the court. Rather, he’s someone who contributes to winning offensively and defensively.

He may not be a shot-blocking king, but Poeltl contested more attempts per game (14.2) than any other player in the game. In turn, opponents’ field-goal percentages dropped by an average of 8.3% compared to their norms within six feet of the hoop when the Spurs big man was the closest defender.

On the other side, he’s fresh off a campaign that saw him put up a career-best 13.5 points per game on 61.8% shooting overall and 74.7% within three feet of the hoop. He’s also an elite-level screener, finishing tied for second league-wide in screen assists at 5.5 per game in ’21-22.

In other words, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and the rest of the Dubs scorers and shooters could actually find themselves with more room to operate with Poeltl down low, a scary thought for the rest of the league.

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