The Golden State Warriors missed the playoffs in 2020 after making the Finals the season prior. The dramatic contrast in the regular season came as a result of injuries like the one Klay Thompson sustained during the 2019 Finals as well as injuries to Stephen Curry and Draymond Green throughout the 2019-20 regular season. The absence of Kevin Durant was apparent as the Dubs fell in the rankings to the worst record in the league.
The Los Angeles Clippers had much more of a fighting chance, notching the second-best record in the Western Conference. However, their regular-season success did not carry over into the playoffs, where the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets, getting eliminated in the Conference Semi-Finals. In crunch time of Game 7 of the Nuggets series, it became apparent that the Clippers were in desperate need of another scorer outside of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
Both the Warriors and Clippers have some correcting to do. Free agency was particularly monumental for either club, although the Warriors did manage to luck into the second overall pick, selecting James Wiseman, who may prove invaluable.
The Dubs need to bring in an All-Star caliber scorer who can take over if Steph or Klay gets injured again. The Clippers need to find a new offensive identity, the introduction of head coach Tyronn Lue and the right roster move could get them over the hump and into their first Western Conference Finals or even NBA Finals Appearance.
Trade Package: Paul George, Lou Williams for Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green
The Clippers Big 3 Defenders - Kawhi, Green, Ibaka
Paul George is a good defender, but Draymond is a Defensive Player of the Year level defender. Sure, age is starting to creep up on the do-it-all-but-score big man. With other big man and defender Serge Ibaka coming to LA in free agency, it seems fitting for Leonard to team up with Ibaka and Green, echoing the stingy interior defense that beat the Warriors and won the Toronto Raptors the team’s first NBA title.
One defensive trend across the league has been an emphasis on prioritizing paint protection. Adding Draymond Green alongside defenders like Serge Ibaka, Ivica Zubac, and Patrick Patterson would make the Clippers a problem for opposing offenses.
With Green and Ibaka patrolling the paint, perimeter defenders like Patrick Beverley and Nicolas Batum could shine, locking down interior and outer scoring. Clogging the lane and forcing misses would also open up the fast break, which would give Andrew Wiggins opportunities to utilize his athleticism.
While he does not provide as much floor spacing as PG, Ibaka’s ability to stretch the floor could still allow Wiggins to get to the rim and finish. His physical abilities would make him a problem for smaller defenders inside, especially in a Green/Ibaka pick-and-roll.
Draymond Green’s ability as a playmaker would help open the floor up for both Wiggins and Leonard. Additionally, the off-ball movement that Wiggins and Green provide would allow more movement on offense for the Clippers and allow Kawhi to show his development as a passer.
Another thing that would be good for Wiggins is the Clippers’ attention to development. While Golden State might not be bad at development as well, LA could be what is needed for the 2014 first overall pick to unlock the potential that was expected of him 6 years ago.
The Warriors Renaissance With Paul George
The bottom of the league is not something longtime Warrior fans are unfamiliar with. The Stephen Curry era, however, has brought up hopes for the now-San Francisco-based team. To get back on top, Golden State is going to have to claw its way back to the top, one way to do that is to add Paul George.
While Draymond won Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17, injuries have made him a step slow. George is no slouch when it comes to defense either, leading the league in steals in 2018-19 and earning all-defensive team honors 4 times.
The one thing George does provide that Draymond does not is floor spacing. It would be great to see PG assert his prowess as a scorer after a less-than-ideal second-round performance. The Kevin Durant Warriors showed how deadly three volume scorers on the court at once can be, this trade would leave the Dubs with four.
Coming off the bench, Lou Williams can provide a spark off the bench that Shaun Livingston used to provide. While more of a scorer than a passer like Livingston was, Williams provides a significant impact even in limited minutes. Like Andre Iguodala did for Golden State, Lou Will can take and make clutch shots, something Klay and Steph have struggled with in the past.
George also struggled on offense in the series against Denver, Steph, while not the best scorer in crunch-time, does provide a spark for offensive momentum. Playing alongside Curry could be what PG needs to perform well in the playoffs.