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Three Questions the Golden State Warriors Must Face

© D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors are at somewhat of a crossroads. They now sit at 15-16, but have won five of their last seven games, all without the services of Draymond Green. It seems Golden State has found something ever since Steve Kerr shifted Andrew Wiggins to the bench in favor of rookie Brandin Podziemski and Jonathan Kuminga slid into Green’s starting slot. But can these quick fixes last? What will the Warriors do moving forward, as they continue to get healthy and attempt a push for the playoffs? 

Three Questions the Golden State Warriors Must Face

What Will Happen with Andrew Wiggins? 

It’s no secret that Wiggins is no longer in his 2022 form. His scoring is down to a career-low 12.6 points per game on 42/29/69 splits, and he’s been relegated to the bench despite his $24 million salary. The former 1st overall pick has three years remaining on his contract, earning as much as $30.1 million in the final year, 2026-27. The price for this level of production simply can’t be justified.  

So, what do you do with him?  

The most obvious answer is to trade him. Golden State desperately needs size to avoid being eviscerated by the skilled bigs of the league and trading Wiggins to fill that hole would work perfectly. Moving Wiggins along with a few draft picks could be enough to bring back someone like Lauri Markkanen, Pascal Siakam, or Jerami Grant. The Warriors own their first-round picks through 2030 and would be quick to use them to capitalize on the rest of Stephen Curry’s prime.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The Golden State Warriors could be open to trading Andrew Wiggins, per <a href=”https://twitter.com/timkawakami?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@timkawakami</a> <br><br>“Though I’ve said in the past that the Warriors might be reluctant to trade Wiggins…I’ve since heard that this would not be a major barrier for the Warriors to explore Wiggins’ trade market.… <a href=”https://t.co/VUiEFs1e0n”>pic.twitter.com/VUiEFs1e0n</a></p>&mdash; NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TheDunkCentral/status/1740832023164469645?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 29, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

However, Golden State has shown a tendency to stick with its guys. The franchise has rewarded players for what they’ve done in the past; sticking with Klay Thompson through his early season struggles and paying Green a big contract this summer. It’s uncertain whether the same attachment will be shown to Wiggins, but General Manager Mike Dunleavy will likely listen to offers at least. 

What Will Things Look Like When Draymond Green Returns? 

Green has missed the last eight games following his incident with Jusuf Nurkic in Phoenix. Rumors say the suspension will end up covering around 11 to 13 games if Green continues on the right path to reinstatement. Long story short, Green’s return is drawing somewhat near.  

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>ESPN Sources: Beyond individual counseling sessions, suspended Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green is participating in periodic virtual meetings that include team, NBA and NBPA officials designed to chart his progress toward reinstatement: <a href=”https://t.co/1I1dEHoWwX”>https://t.co/1I1dEHoWwX</a></p>&mdash; Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) <a href=”https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/1739281614453289097?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 25, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

But Golden State has found some sort of success with Green out. Kuminga has filled the void very well, averaging 13.7 points and five rebounds per game. The youthful exuberance of both him and Podziemski has been a welcome presence for the veteran group, contributing to the winning spurt.  

Green took the reins from former All-Star David Lee in 2014; is there any chance it’s time for him to pass them down? 

With Kuminga’s history of unpleasantries due to a lack of minutes, how would he take his role going back to the bench? On top of this, Gary Payton II is back in the fold already. It will certainly be difficult for Kerr to find a way to rotate Green, Kuminga, Payton and Podziemski all together alongside Curry and Thompson. If a new face is brought in from a possible Wiggins trade, the issue goes even further.  

The likely solution is that Podziemski will return to the bench while Kuminga and Green start as the forwards. The rookie and Payton II bring the same kind of spark off the bench, and paired with Chris Paul and Moses Moody, could make an efficient bench group.  

Which Big Gives You the Best Chance to Win? 

The Warriors found something in Trayce Jackson-Davis. The rookie has come into his own recently, battling with the likes of Nikola Jokic and Bam Adebayo and recording double-doubles in three of his last five games. He’s provided a spark of athleticism that Golden State has missed, and he’s only going to get better.  

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Showing off his game 📶<br><br>Trayce Jackson-Davis is the first Warriors rookie since Anthony Randolph in 2009 to tally 15+ rebounds in a game. <a href=”https://t.co/MBcGAymUCJ”>pic.twitter.com/MBcGAymUCJ</a></p>&mdash; Golden State Warriors (@warriors) <a href=”https://twitter.com/warriors/status/1738439278080962862?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 23, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Kevon Looney is great, no doubt, but you have to think Jackson-Davis could elevate the Warriors in the starting lineup. The former All-American is a lob threat, can block shots, and can even guard the perimeter to an extent in the pick-and-roll. Like Kuminga and Podziemski, that youth is the kick that can help the Warriors get better. 

Once again, the Warriors will have to choose between who’s contributed in the past and who gives them the best chance to win today. There’s no question the talent is there for Golden State to compete for a title; we’ve seen it. Kerr may be staring down the barrel of his toughest two months as head coach and there are plenty of issues for him to address. Everything leading up to February’s trade deadline will be crucial to the Warriors’ success this season, it just depends on how they want to approach it.

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