The Golden State Warriors aren’t what they used to be, but Steph Curry‘s superhuman play this year has the team in the Western Conference playoff picture halfway through the season. Without Klay Thompson in the lineup, though, the Warriors are in dire need of a capable guard to pair with Curry in the backcourt if they want to make a deep playoff run in 2021.
That need might be fulfilled soon, as Golden State is reportedly interested in trading for former All-Star Victor Oladipo.
The Golden State Warriors are in a heated playoff race
The Warriors have endured a roller coaster of a last few years. In 2019, Golden State was on its way to its fourth NBA title in five years, but Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both went down in the NBA Finals with devastating injuries. The undermanned Warriors didn’t have enough firepower to handle the Toronto Raptors after both superstars went down.
Then, in the following offseason, Durant left town to join the Brooklyn Nets. With Thompson out for the season with a torn ACL, the Warriors had a slim chance of returning to championship form with their depleted roster. To make matters worse, Steph Curry broke his hand just five games into the season and sat out the rest of the year after undergoing surgery. Golden State finished last season with the worst record in the NBA at 15-50.
Curry and Thompson were both on pace to return in 2020-21 to bring the Warriors back to relevancy in the Western Conference, but Thompson suffered a torn right Achilles just two months before the season opener. That left Curry to fend for himself alongside an aging Draymond Green and a slew of young, unproven players around them.
But even with a bottom-tier supporting cast and low expectations entering the season, Curry has led the Warriors to a 19-18 record at the All-Star break. Golden State is currently the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference playoff race. The Warriors have a surprising chance to make the playoffs in 2021, but they need one more piece to fill the absent Thompson role in the backcourt.
The Warriors are reportedly interested in trading for Victor Oladipo
The Warriors have two choices as we near the 2021 NBA trade deadline on March 25. They could stand pat and chase a playoff spot with their current roster, or they could go all-in by trading for a star in hopes of a deep playoff run.
It seems as if they’re leaning toward the latter.
On Monday morning, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported the Warriors are interested in trading for Houston Rockets guard and two-time All-Star, Victor Oladipo.
“Golden State’s interest in Oladipo signals the front office’s intentions to find another ball handler,” O’Connor wrote in his latest NBA Power Rankings article. “Curry and Draymond remain excellent offensive machines, but the Warriors are missing the next Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston. Could Oladipo fill that role?”
Should the Warriors go all-in for Victor Oladipo?
The Warriors are in a tough spot as we approach the 2021 trade deadline. The front office has grown so accustomed to competing for championships that it can’t stand being on the outside looking in at the real NBA Finals contenders. Golden State could sell some young assets to acquire Oladipo, who is in the final year of his $85.5 million deal, but it would be a risky maneuver with very little upside.
For one, adding Oladipo doesn’t make the Warriors an immediate NBA title contender. The Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Suns would all still have better rosters than Golden State. Oladipo probably makes the Warriors a playoff team, but how far can they really make it through the gauntlet that is the Western Conference?
Oladipo also becomes a free agent after this season. Is it worth selling assets for a player who might be just a half-year rental?
The Warriors might believe they need to go all-in now because of how incredible Curry is playing, but they should be taking a longer-term approach. It’s possible Golden State ends up with another top-five draft pick in 2021 thanks to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Add that to Klay Thompson’s return next season and another year for the young pieces to improve, and 2022 might be the target year to truly go all-in for another title.