Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman has absolutely unreal NBA potential. There will always be a place in this league for athletic marvels that are 7-foot-1 and are built as physically impressive as he is.
One look at James Wiseman’s sheer size and condor-like 7-foot-6 wingspan and you’d think he was some kid’s Create-a-Player on NBA 2K. But add to that the fact that he can run the floor like men half his size and also displays a shooting stroke that could translate as he develops further in the NBA, and you have yourself the perfect high-upside prospect, folks.
Despite the league growing smaller and smaller, we’ve seen massive figures dominate the NBA landscape in recent years. Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, this year’s MVP, has redefined what a big man could be. MVP runner-up and Philadelphia 76ers franchise star Joel Embiid has brought the back-to-the-basket big in vogue once more.
We’re seeing with Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton how a bruising frontcourt star with immense physical tools can impose his will and impact an entire playoff series. In James Wiseman, the Warriors could truly have something special if he can manage to stay healthy throughout his career.
Stephen Curry is the reason Warriors must trade James Wiseman
But for Stephen Curry’s sake, they better not have any plans of finding out. Despite all the promise James Wiseman has flashed and no matter how good he can be in his prime, the Golden State Warriors must trade him as soon as an opportunity presents itself, and the reasoning is simple.
There was a ton of buzz during the regular season about how LeBron James was defying Father Time. The Los Angeles Lakers star was playing at an extremely high level in his age-36 season. But while James still looked like a lesser version of his prime self, Stephen Curry perhaps looked the best he has ever played at 33 years of age. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Curry was never about incredible athleticism or physical dominance, but rather skill and elite shooting. But the Warriors star has looked better than he has ever been, which is the crux in the argument to trade James Wiseman.
For as great as Wiseman could become, his value is more theoretical right now than it is tangible. That fact is not up for debate. Some would argue that he could serve as the bridge for the Warriors’ future. Wiseman, Jordan Poole, and their incoming Minnesota Timberwolves lottery pick could be the next generation of talent in the Bay area for once Steph and Co. hang it up.
But while that’s the more pragmatic way to operate, leaving some assets for the future to avoid crashing back down to earth would be a disservice to Stephen Curry. Sure, with a healthy Klay Thompson returning and another MVP-caliber season from Curry, the Dubs could potentially still make a run at a title. But that looks more and more uncertain, given the fact that Thompson hasn’t taken the court in over two years. And while Curry has looked like the best player on the planet in 2021, his eventual decline could come at a moment’s notice.
The Golden State Warriors’ title window is now or never. Unlike other teams with a window determined by contract guarantees on their star players, this one hinges on their stars staving off decline, injury, or both. It’s an hourglass with the sand slowly dripping away, with every year potentially being the one where Draymond Green can no longer stay productive, or Klay Thompson *knocks on wood* gets injured again, or even when Stephen Curry finally shows some mortality.
The exact trade may not be evident just yet. But as we’ve seen every season, there’s always a disgruntled star looking to find the perfect opportunity to win a championship. The Kawhi Leonard trade swung the title for the Toronto Raptors in 2019. The Anthony Davis trade did it for the Lakers in 2020. James Harden’s blockbuster move to the Brooklyn Nets could very well be the defining deal that wins them the title this year. Wiseman is the piece that could net them that star.
On May 24, just a few days after Stephen Curry and the Warriors were bounced out of the play-in tournament by the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State GM Bob Myers addressed the media on the future of the franchise. One key point he emphasized was the integral role James Wiseman can hopefully play for them next season and beyond. But even Myers’ words paint a picture of future value over present with James Wiseman:
“He was put in a position where the guy has, hopefully, taken all of his lumps early in his career,” Myers said. “I think he can be very helpful to us in the future, and I think he can be helpful in the present. We plan on him being on the team. We are very confident he is going to be a good player and help us win next year.”
Stephen Curry put the Golden State Warriors on the map and turned them into a marquee franchise in the NBA. Decades from now, announcers will be remembering the team’s best years when they dominated the league for half a decade in the 2010s. With Curry on the tail end of one of the most electrifying careers we’ve ever seen, they owe it to him to go for broke, even if it means sacrificing their future to do it. After all, he’s the reason they’ll even have a past worth remembering.