The 2019 NBA Draft is just under two weeks away and we’re expecting another loaded draft class. The Warriors — with four picks — will have a strong chance at landing a new face of the franchise. We don’t know who the Warriors will target, but we do know they’re looking for a new point guard and a shooting guard. With that in mind, we’re putting together a mock draft of what the Warriors could do.
To say that Ben Simmons is a polarizing figure is an understatement: some love him and his basketball brilliance, while others hate him and his arrogant and condescending demeanor. Those who love him and his basketball skills and simply want to see him get a chance to play in the NBA, regardless of how his attitude is, want the Philadelphia 76ers to trade him to the Golden State Warriors, who still do not have a point guard.
The Golden State Warriors may have just won their third NBA Championship in the last four years, but they’re in their prime, and there’s no real reason to believe they’re slowing down anytime soon. However, the Warriors are in the process of trying to fill out their roster for the future, and they may be in the market for a point guard. The Warriors’ current starting point guard is former Los Angeles Laker, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but the Warriors are currently over the salary cap.
Though Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that trade talks between the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons were extremely brief and fruitless due to Philly’s unrealistic asking price, it’s worth considering how Simmons would fit in Golden State if a deal were to happen. After all, the Warriors are allegedly one of Simmons’ favorite “California teams.” It’s questionable if he’s the kind of player who has the luxury of stating his preferences, particularly given the fact that he’s under contract until 2025. Regardless, the Warriors have a slew of attractive assets that Sixers GM Daryl Morey has shown an interest in, and Simmons is a young, versatile talent who can be successful in the proper scenario. How will Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr try to utilize Simmons’ potential if the two sides do strike an agreement?
To see Simmons as a Warrior, we must first consider who would be traded in order to get him. Morey reportedly called Warriors GM Bob Meyers and requested James Wiseman (no. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft), Jonathan Kuminga (no. 7 overall pick in the 2021 draft), Moses Moody (no. 14 overall pick in the 2021 draft), and two future first-round picks, as well as Andrew Wiggins, in order to match the salaries. Meyers politely declined the offer, but there is the skeleton of a more fair agreement lurking in there. Meyers doesn’t want to give up Wiseman or Kuminga, according to Anthony Slader of The Athletic, so toss in Moody for sure because he wasn’t mentioned. Regardless of Meyers’ desires, if a deal is made, it seems logical that Wiseman would be included simply because his talent would conflict the most with Simmons’. If he, Simmons, and Draymond Green all started, the Warriors’ floor-spacing would be ruined unless he develops a reliable three-point shooting. To make it more palatable for Meyers, make it one first-round selection instead of two, make it a near-future pick (say 2022), and place a lottery protection on it. Naturally, Wiggins would have to be a part of the deal for the money to match. Wiseman, Moody, Wiggins, and a 2022 first-round pick seem to be a fair bargain for all parties.
Simmons would, of course, start with Green, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson after the deal. This is where the problems with the fit really show up: Simmons and Green are very redundant next to one other. For better or worse, their skill sets overlap in a variety of ways. They’re both best as transition ballhandlers, snatching defensive boards, running coast-to-coast, and finding spot-up shooters before opposing defenders have a chance to set up. Because none of them can shoot (Green at least tries threes), one of them will be a liability to the offense when the other has the ball. Defenses will sag off of both Simmons and Green and send two, maybe three players at Curry when he has the ball.
Kerr will have to be inventive with the fifth starting if he wants to make any headway. He can’t go with a conventional big (Kevon Looney is the only one remaining on the roster) and further muddle the space. The Warriors would effectively commit to a small-ball, all-switching style if they make this deal, maximizing Simmons’ ability to defend numerous spots while minimizing his inability to shoot. To keep opposing defenses honest, Kerr would need to start another player who can defend both guards and larger wings while also attempting (and knocking down) a high percentage of threes. If he’s healthy, the solution is recently acquired Otto Porter Jr. He’s a big 6’8 winger who’s shot 40.2 percent from three-point range throughout his career. He’s been plagued by injuries, appearing in only 42 games over the last two seasons, but he’ll reportedly report to training camp fit. If that isn’t the case, Juan Tuscano-Anderson, Jordan Poole, and Mychal Mulder should all be considered as final starters.
The Warriors’ defensive set-up, which ranked sixth in defensive rating last season, would be a nightmare for any opposition attack. If Thompson can regain his form after missing two full seasons, the Warriors will have four long wings capable of guarding multiple spots, led by Simmons and Green, who finished second and third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. Green would essentially become a full-time center, since he’d be the de facto rim protector (as he has been in different ‘death’ lineups for years). They’d alter everything, almost never miss rotations, and continually obstruct passing lanes (Curry, Green and Simmons have all led the league in steals at various points in their careers). Simmons could potentially play backup center on second units with Toscano-Anderson and Andre Iguodala, who are both excellent perimeter defenders. On defense, Simmons personifies much of what the Warriors have stood for over the past seven years. The issue is with the offensive.
With the ball in his hands, Simmons will undoubtedly be effective. He’s one of the best in the league at locating spot-up shooters for corner threes (Curry and Thompson would be stuffed), and he’s a nightmare in transition. Simmons would be able to go out and run because the Warriors would force a lot of mistakes. The issue is located at the halfcourt. Curry and Thompson would help spread the floor, but the Green/Simmons combination is just too clogging. Despite having perhaps the greatest offensive player in basketball in Curry, Golden State finished second in offensive rating last season, and Simmons won’t assist much while he’s not on the court. He could play at the dunker’s position as Wiseman did when he was healthy last season, but that was an unsuccessful approach for Philly.
Ultimately, whatever club acquires Simmons will have to deal with the non-shooter issue. It’s just too obvious a problem, especially in today’s NBA. It would be a club with two of the greatest shooters in NBA history in their backcourt that would be able to minimize it.
Even yet, it doesn’t seem worth it for Golden State to spend a significant portion of their trade-assets fortune on a shaky fit when a more plausible alternative might emerge at any time. The Warriors could probably outbid any other offer if they kept the initial package that Morey wanted and if Wizards standout Bradley Beal made a formal trade request. It’s better if they leave their bullets in the chamber. With respect to Simmons, his dreams of living in California may be a pipe dream.
The Golden State Warriors are one of the NBA’s most dominant teams, having won two of the last three titles. However, the Warriors are something of a one-man show, with Steph Curry leading the way. But with arguably the best player in the league in their midst, can the Warriors even think about winning a third straight title? Can they keep the core of their team together for the long-term? And how would drafting Ben Simmons fit in with their existing roster?. Read more about ben simmons trade lakers and let us know what you think.
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