Grade the Trade: Warriors find perfect fit with champion big in mountainous proposal

The Golden State Warriors could benefit from finding a big who can shoot and defend. This trade would bring a former champ who fits that description perfectly
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages
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The Golden State Warriors want something that they don't have.

In the midst of suspensions, injuries, young players blossoming and more suspensions, the Warriors couldn't settle on a single specific starting lineup. Some of that indecision took place in the backcourt, but a major question that Steve Kerr couldn't definitively answer was who to start at the two big positions.

Historically the Warriors have started a traditional big man at the 5 and Draymond Green at the 4; they kicked things off for the year with that look, Kevon Looney and Green starting. The spacing on such a lineup is extremely limited, especially if Jonathan Kuminga is starting at small forward. The Warriors then shifted to a more spaced-out group with Draymond at center, Kuminga at the 4 and Andrew Wiggins at the 3.

That group played well but also lacked size and overall rim protection; as good as Green is, he cannot be everywhere on the court. He is at his defensive best roaming around the court with another big shutting off water at the rim. The Warriors switched back to that kind of lineup by promoting rookie center Trayce Jackson-Davis into the starting lineup, although that look forced one of Wiggins or Kuminga back to the bench.

If the Warriors go big, they lose spacing; if they go small, they lose size and rim protection. As they look around the league for ways to improve their roster, one thing that may be rising toward the top of their shopping list is a unicorn center.

The Warriors would love to find a unicorn center

The Boston Celtics are currently in the NBA Finals two years after losing to the Warriors, and something they changed about their team was adding Kristaps Porzingis, a towering center who combines elite shot-blocking with consistent outside shooting. A center who has size and rim protection inside but also has to be guarded outside of the arc is an extremely valuable type of player in the modern NBA, and it led former Warriors Kevin Durant to give Porzingis the title of "unicorn" back in 2016.

What was novel in 2016 is a little more common in 2024, but the Warriors haven't found such a player; James Wiseman thought he was that kind of player, and stretch bigs like Dario Saric and Nemanja Bjelica haven't been able to defend the paint. The Warriors would greatly benefit from finding one of these players.

The problem is that most "unicorn" bigs are highly coveted by their teams. Porzingis is entrenched on the Celtics, Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama are centerpieces of their teams, Myles Turner and Jaren Jackson Jr. aren't going anywhere. Joel Embiid is an MVP. The options are not vast.

One player who has proven himself as a two-way force may just be available this summer, and perhaps at a price the Warriors can afford. Let's look at a former champion who could be a perfect fit alongside Draymond Green in this last run of the Warriors and see what it would take to trade for him.