Warriors bank on James Wiseman return for de facto deadline date acquisition

The Golden State Warriors continue to cement their status as title contenders despite Stephen Curry’s recent shooting crash. While some might wonder if the Dubs will get aggressive before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline to add an impact piece, Golden State appears confident on its internal pieces.

With a back injury sidelining Draymond Green for at least the next two weeks and the Warriors already having limited frontcourt depth, they look like a solid landing spot for someone like Domantas Sabonis. But the Dubs are happier waiting for James Wiseman as the 2020 No. 2 pick returns from a meniscus injury.

Warriors won’t pursue center upgrades at NBA trade deadline

The Warriors could well face some of the league’s best centers on the road. Nikola Jokic is playing at MVP level. Rudy Gobert spearheads the Utah Jazz’s success on both sides. Karl Anthony-Towns and Deandre Ayton patrol the middle for playoff-caliber teams.

The Dubs might feel motivated to add depth before the NBA trade deadline because of all the Western Conference center talent and Green’s back injury. But Golden State is good with the guys on the current roster.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported that the Warriors have no intention of acquiring a center in the coming weeks. The team’s brass like what they’ve seen from veteran great Kevon Looney, who started in all 47 games and adds value as a defensive-minded switchable center who can hold his own against heavy hitters. ‘isolation.

Indeed, Looney is a perfect fit for a Warriors team that ranks first in defensive ratings. However, the insistence on not adding another center makes it clear that Golden State still hopes James Wiseman can return to the fold.

Golden State awaits the return of James Wiseman

James Wiseman reacts before a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 11, 2022 | Justin Ford/Getty Images

James Wiseman’s recovery process is going slower than expected. He first suffered a meniscus tear in April 2021, with the Dubs hoping he would return in a limited fashion in December. But the 20-year-old remains without a clear return schedule.

Still, the latest rumors regarding Golden State’s plans would indicate that the team believes the youngster could be available shortly.

If healthy, Wiseman brings a different dimension to the central position. He runs the ground in transition and can break up dribble defenders. His athleticism and skill level make him tough cover offensively, especially when coming in for catches and can knock down mid-range jumpers as a roll man.

Wiseman will need a build-up period even when officially cleared. But once the young center gets a feel for the speed of play, much like Klay Thompson did recently before sitting out with knee pain, he can take the Warriors to another level.

How will the Warriors proceed at the deadline?

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The Warriors won’t go heavy after available centers before the NBA’s trade deadline. How could Golden State try to bolster its competitor status?

General manager Bob Myers said on The Athletic’s “The TK Show” (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area) that the Dubs don’t feel pressured to move. The rationale makes perfect sense.

With Green (when healthy) excelling, Looney giving nightly contributions, and bench guys like Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr. providing some depth, the Warriors frontcourt gets along great.

Jonathan Kuminga is rapidly developing to become a key part of the wing, especially on the defensive end. Andrew Wiggins is having one of his finest all-around seasons.

Naturally, the “Splash Brothers” of Curry and Thompson headline the backcourt, while Jordan Poole’s offensive upgrades make him an essential part of this unit. Gary Payton II’s defensive gifts help set the tone for that ending.

The Warriors don’t need much. Perhaps additional bench scores or two-way wings would add value. Otherwise, the Dubs are fine waiting for Wiseman and seeing if he’s the final piece of the championship puzzle.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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