It’s that time of the offseason where the break provides an opportunity to restock, to delve back into the NBA landscape over recent history. With four championships in the past nine seasons, the Golden State Warriors are often at the forefront of such conversations.
The Warriors have produced unmatched recent success by craftily assembling a group of players that fit perfectly together. They haven’t been a franchise to make a ton of moves, but the ones they do make are usually well calculated in fitting into an already firm team chemistry.
One of the Golden State Warriors’ most recent franchise-altering moves has been omitted from a list of the worst NBA trades over the last five years.
In a recent article outlining the worst five NBA trades of the last five years, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey has omitted one championship-defining move that certainly has claims of making the list.
After Kevin Durant’s departure in the 2019 offseason and a devastating injury to Klay Thompson, Golden State were in a period of uncertainty. Their 2019-20 season was nothing short of horrific, garnering the league’s worst record as a result.
They need a circuit-breaker. Something to catapult them back into championship contention. On February 6, 2020, then General Manager Bob Myers executed just that in trading D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman for Andrew Wiggins, a top three protected 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick.
It was hardly anything earth-shattering at the time. It was the Warriors buying low on Wiggins, a former number one overall pick who while productive, was seen as overpaid and whom had failed to fulfil his potential at that point.
Myers also prayed on the Timberwolves’ desire to pair Russell with good friend Karl Anthony-Towns — Minnesota had tried to lure the 2019 All-Star in free agency the previous offseason. It meant Golden State also pried a top three protected first-round pick out of the deal, one that always had the potential of conveying into a good pick given Minnesota’s recent history.
Just over three years later and Wiggins is an integral part of the Warriors’ setup. The Canadian is one of the best two-way forwards in the league, was an All-Star in 2022, and was the franchise’s second-best player on their way to a championship last year. Meanwhile, Russell put up okay numbers for the Timberwolves but it never led to significant team success. He was traded to the Lakers in February, ending a fairly forgettable stint with Minnesota.
Trading Wiggins for Russell in itself has resulted as a lopsided deal, let alone adding Jonathan Kuminga to the mix with whom the Warriors drafted with that Timberwolves’ pick. It was a championship move for Golden State that could get even better, and an unmitigated disaster for Minnesota who were exploited by a wish to keep Towns happy.
Still, it wasn’t enough to make Bailey’s list of the worst recent trades. Perhaps he may have felt bad for putting the Timberwolves on it twice, with the franchise’s controversial move for Rudy Gobert prominent in the conversation.