The Golden State Warriors had a number of heroes during their incredible run to the 2022 NBA championship. Stephen Curry may have been the obvious choice for Finals MVP honors after averaging 31 points, six boards and five assists against the Celtics, but he couldn’t have secured the chip on his own.
Without question, Kevon Looney’s play in the pivot was a major factor in the team’s playoff success. He was especially great during the West Finals, dropping an 11-11-3 line on Luka Doncic and the Mavs.
Alas, while his solid play, steadying presence and incredible durability — he was the only Warrior to play in every single game, regular- and postseason — endeared him to Dub Nation, his deficiencies on both sides of the ball were exploited at times by Golden State’s opponents.
So, with the big man set to become an unrestricted free agent in a matter of days and the luxury-taxed Warriors needing to make the most of every dollar they spend, some would say that the time has come to set Looney free.
To that end, we’re floating a big trade with the San Antonio Spurs to bring in a new and far more skilled center to take his place in the starting five.
Trade Proposal Swaps One Lotto Pick for Another
In order to cash in on former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, who may or may not ever live up to the potential that had scouts drooling two or three years ago, and upgrade from Looney, we’re pitching the following deal:
- San Antonio Spurs receive C James Wiseman
- Golden State Warriors receive C Jakob Poeltl, a 2023 second-round pick (via IND) and a 2025 second-round pick
Wiseman may finally be regaining his health — he’s expected to play for the Dubs’ summer league squad — but the odds that he can actually be a significant contributor for another title run or two before the Steph-Klay-Dray core ages out could be slim. And the Warriors must prioritize winning while their title window remains open.
With that goal in mind, the Spurs big man might just be the ideal addition to the team.
Poeltl isn’t just bigger than Looney — at 7-foot-1 and 245 pounds, he’s built to take on the likes of Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Deandre Ayton and Joel Embiid — but his skill set is also more diverse.
Defensively, the former No. 9 pick finished the regular season No. 1 league-wide in contested shots per game at 14.2. Meanwhile, opponents had a field-goal percentage differential of minus-8.3% on attempts within six feet of the hoop when he was the closest defender.
He has a ton to offer offensively, too. Aside from putting up 13.5 PPG on 61.8% shooting — and 74.7% within three feet of the hoop — in 2021-22, Poeltl ranked second in the Association in screen assists, averaging 5.5 per game. He’s also a sneaky-good passer who can find teammates out of the low post.
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Why the Spurs Do It
As it stands, Poeltl has been one of San Antonio’s top performers for at least two years running; a Gregg Popovich guy through and through. However, he’s a win-now player rostered by a club that is in the midst of a youth movement.
And while he’s young enough, at 26, to still be a factor when the fledglings finally start to take off, wasting his prime years on a rebuilding effort may not appeal to him. There won’t be any shortage of suitors for his services, either, when he hits free agency next summer.
So, if the Spurs want to get something out of him before he bolts, they have until February to deal him.
Moreover, with San Antonio drafting defensive wunderkind Jeremy Sochan as its power forward of the future with the ninth overall pick in Thursday’s draft, the team could probably use more offensive upside in the frontcourt. Enter Wiseman, who has the potential to become one of the best rim-runners/finishers in recent memory.