The Greatest Acquisition of the Deadline

Updated: January 13, 2022

Inevitably, with the trade deadline now less than a month away, analysts and content creators will be fixated on the last piece of the puzzle added to a contender for assets in exchange from tanking franchises. Ironically though, the most devastating weapon added to a true contender before the deadline was not via trade at the cost of draft picks or rookie contracts. What is the most coveted type of player on the market that every single team needs more of? It is a two-way wing that can hit open threes at 38%+ and can adequately cover 2-4 on the defensive end. The Golden State Warriors just got that but on steroids. Klay Thompson, in his first game back in over 2 seasons, and the two worst basketball-related lower-body injuries in an ACL and Achilles, came out and scored 17 points in 20 minutes, as a plus a defender.

Up to this point in the season, the vast majority of analysts and podcast hosts that cover the league have unanimously stated that the Golden State Warriors are the best team in basketball. No caveats about Wisemen or Thompson, simply, from what has been shown with the pieces on the floor, that the Warriors have been the best team in the NBA for either conference. It has not just been their record but the abundance of tests they have met and defeated at home and on the road. Even analysts who had been low on their predictions on what they thought the Warriors were or would be, have been forced to change their tune, especially with the victories collected even when Steph Curry has not shot well. The team concept and the high IQ weapons executing the schemes have looked like a perfect fit.

One of the troublesome variables with late-season additions for a team firing on all cylinders like the Dubs is the possible chemistry issues with making room for a new personality, and the minutes taken away from the current rotation players. This is especially true for starting-level talent who essentially take the job of a player who now needs to come off the bench and reset their expectations not only with starting but closing games. This simply isn’t an issue with the Warriors. Jordan Poole has been mentally prepped as a 6th man since the offseason and his game lends itself perfectly as the microwave scorer/co-facilitator off the bench. Not only Poole, but the entire roster has been mentally preparing for the reemergence of Klay Thompson since the preseason, and one could argue, the promise of his upcoming presence has been a driving force of their chemistry. Since Klay is one of the most likable characters in all of basketball, everyone on the roster is hoping for his health and production on the court to exceed expectations.

The chemistry and on-court fit are also a non-issue with the Klay Return since arguably, he knows the system as good or better than anyone outside of Steph and Draymond and does the majority of his damage as an off-ball sniper. However, the one thing Golden State was missing, was a killer who could balance out the weight on Curry’s shoulders. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole have done a fantastic job with picking up the slack in games where Steph has struggled, yet tend to defer to him down the stretch of games. The record indicates the equation has worked quite well since they currently hold the best record in the NBA. However, Klay is a thirsty yet efficient scorer, who wants his often and always. This alpha mentality next to Steph not only will punish teams for all the junk defense utilized to slow down Curry but with raise their overall ceiling when they are firing on all cylinders.

Draymond and Andre Iguodala had joked with Klay that the game has changed since his tragic exit in the 2019 Finals in Toronto. That at 6’7” 230, he is now more a 3-4 stretch-4 than the 2-guard he has been identified as since he entered the league. In a way though, he has always been a wing on the offensive end of the floor. Sure, he covered primarily the best guard 1 or 2 on the defensive end, but with his size and strength, he has always enjoyed exploiting undersized guards in the post and abusing their lack of height after switches on shots from outside the arc.             The only difference now is, with Curry’s new build and frankly being one the only plus defenders at his position with regards to superstars (the other being CP3), there is no need for Thompson to cover the best opposing guard. Especially with Wiggins making a case for an All-Defensive team this season, and the versatility with their forwards and wings in Dray, Otto, Iggy, JTA, Kuminga, and JPII, it will be Klay’s IQ and team defensive that will not only be a fit but an upgrade in their rotation on that end of the floor. The thought was he will take up more of the guard minutes, but with how well Young Glove, Gary Payton II has played, it will most likely be Juan Toscano Anderson’s minutes that will decrease as they are replaced by Klay at the 3/4, playing a similar role as Otto Porter Jr. has.

The only issue that could be of some concern, is with keeping Andrew Wiggins fed properly on the offensive end of the floor. He has had a tremendous season with career highs across the board, especially with regards to his efficiency from distance, that Klay’s score-first mentality may take away some of the shots that Wiggins had previously been responsible for. I would argue though, that a bit less weight on Wiggins’ shoulders on offense long term is going to be a plus for his body to hold up and be 100% for the playoffs.

He is their primary on-ball defender and will need to take the toughest defensive assignments in a 7-game series. As long as he remains taking the substantial amount of 3-point jumpers the system will create for him and Kerr is consciences to draw a play or two designed for him out of time outs per game, he should maintain scoring north of 17. Now with regards to him making an All-Star appearance or even being in the consideration as an All-NBA talent, this will undoubtedly affect the perception of his impact from those around the league that don’t watch the games. But the Warriors despite their reputation as gunslingers are the best team in the league primary because they have the best defensive in the NBA.

Wiggins is such a huge part of what they do on that end of the floor and one of the few weapons that can take on a Lebron, Kawhi, PG13, and still score an easy 16, that his health and wear and tear as an iron man who plays nearly every game needs to be something that is managed. The Klay Return essentially does this automatically by reducing Wiggins’ offensive role. He will still have quarters where he takes over, and one could argue with his talents, should be their 2nd option, but the system they run is built to feed Klay and Curry and their prolific jumpers.

On one side of the coin, it could be seen as a negative, impeding on the development of the alpha mentality in Andrew Wiggins—and in a way it is and most likely will for his entire tenure as a Warrior. However, with regards to this season, and the title bound path Golden State is clearly on, Wiggins being seen as their primary defender, spending the majority of his energy on that side of the ball, and letting his points come to him naturally through the flow of the offense, is what gives the Warriors the best chance for their 4th title of the dynasty.

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