Analyzing the Warriors' Trade Deadline


The 2022-2023 trade deadline has undoubtedly been one of the craziest in a while, with multiple superstars being traded and all teams seemingly involved in one trade or another. One of those teams was the Golden State Warriors, a team that has been absolutely underwhelming after reaching the pinnacle of the NBA. The Warriors' trade deadline transactions were quite simple, and fans certainly wanted and expected more moves, but the one major trade that the Warriors made was undoubtedly significant and could provide a miraculous mid-season turnaround, similar to that of the Boston Celtics in the 2021-2022 season. 

The transactions the Warriors made were simple yet all interconnected: Bob Myers and the front office traded 2020 2nd overall pick James Wiseman to the Detroit Pistons for Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox; then, the Warriors flipped Saddiq Bey for five 2nd round picks from the Atlanta Hawks, and finally, they traded the five acquired picks and Kevin Knox to the Portland Trailblazers for beloved Warriors alum and Bay Area legend, Gary Payton II. All in all, the Warriors essentially traded James Wiseman to the Pistons for Gary Payton II. 

This trade the Warriors pulled off can truly be seen as a win-win for all parties. As for James Wiseman, former 2nd overall pick, he gets a fresh, new start on a team that can afford to develop young talent with high ceilings at the expense of losing games. Wiseman is now another raw player filled with potential on the Pistons, joining the likes of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren, among others. Minutes and live game action are what Wiseman desperately needed, and on the Pistons, he certainly has the chance to have just that. The James Wiseman era has proved to the Warriors, and possibly to all the teams around the league, that when drafting at such a high pick, talent, skill, and potential should be prioritized over positional needs or fit. 

As for the Warriors, acquiring Gary Payton while trading James Wiseman is a dub (no pun intended). According to The Athletic's John Hollinger, trading Wiseman saved the Warriors a total of 131 million dollars. For the 2022-2023 season, the Warriors no longer need to worry about the 51 million dollars that come with Wiseman's 3rd-year pay and taxes, and for the 2023-2024 season, 80 million dollars will have been saved. For a player who rarely gets opportunities and playing time, there is no point in wasting 131 million dollars over the course of two years, and it is much more rational to be spending that money on players that can actually contribute. Enter Gary Payton II. 

On paper, though the Warriors lack depth, it seems like they do not need another guard. However, Gary Payton II is not the traditional guard that Jordan Poole or Donte DiVincenzo is. Gary Payton II has the player build of an athletic, two-way big in a 6'2 body. It has been proven that on offense, GP2 thrives not as a primary ball handler, but rather as a player in the short corner who moves well off the ball, can hit the occasional three, and more importantly, catch lobs and finish powerfully around the rim. On the defensive side, well, we know what GP2 offers on defense. He was an integral part of the Warriors having the 2nd-best defense in the entire league last season, and without him this season, it seems like the Warriors' defense has fallen off a cliff. Jordan Poole gives occasional effort on defense, but simply put, he is not a good on-ball defender. Donte DiVincenzo has shown flashes of quality on-ball defense, but the consistency isn't quite there. When Jonathan Kuminga is guarding the primary ball handler, it leaves the opposing wing player with a smaller defender, creating a mismatch. However, with GP2 back, he can consistently lock up the primary ball handler, allowing Jordan Poole to guard the weak link of the opposition's offense and Jonathan Kuminga to guard the opposition's wing players, while Donte can lurk in the passing lanes, getting quick steals and transition buckets. Though GP2 certainly provides a uniqueness on offense that fits seamlessly with the Warriors' system, his defense is his main calling card, and with GP2 back on the Warriors, there is no reason that the Warriors should not be a top-5 NBA defense from here on out. Though the Warriors' trade deadline moves were not as flashy or star-studded as some of the other trades around the Association, they were financially smart and catered to the Warriors' needs and fits, which, at the end of the day, is all that is needed when you've got a Hall-of-Fame trio near the end of their prime. 

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