Golden State Warriors

Can Klay Thompson vault Warriors into contention, or should Golden State trade James Wiseman?

Covering a pro sports beat must be wild. One month, you’re writing a series of in-depth articles on a high-profile rookie, and then down the road, you suggest that same rookie should to be traded.

That’s what’s happened to Golden State Warriors rookie center James Wiseman. A lot can transpire during an NBA season, and perceptions and needs can certainly change.

San Francisco Chronicle writer Connor Letourneau took questions from Warriors fans in an article from Wednesday, and he suggested that the Warriors need another big-name, established piece on the roster to compete for a title next season. The best way for Golden State to make that happen is to trade Wiseman and potentially its extremely valuable lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

The primary issue here is superstar Stephen Curry’s continued greatness. He’s not slowing down, and to have him playing at an MVP level while the Warriors are a mediocre team is considered an alarm by some — as in the Warriors need to make a large splash to contend immediately.

Here’s a portion of what Letourneau said on the matter.

As great as Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins are, Golden State needs another big-time difference-maker next to them to vault into serious contention. That’s why I think the Warriors should start thinking seriously about trading James Wiseman and the top-three-protected 2021 pick from Minnesota.

Connor Letourneau/San Francisco Chronicle

Wiseman was the No. 2 overall choice in the draft, and his story inspired a multi-part series in The Chronicle, written by Letourneau. Now, he feels it might be in Golden State’s best interest to ship Wiseman away.

It depends on what Golden State could get in return, but in general, I disagree. Warriors guard Klay Thompson is all Curry needs. The roster demands more rounding out as far as role players, but regarding superstars that can take part of the offensive burden off of Curry, Thompson is all he’s ever required.

The “Box-and-One” type of defenses that have become a popular way to slow Curry have only been effective since Thompson suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries. Curry’s “gravity,” or the tremendous attention paid to him by defenses, makes it easy for his teammates to score. Without Thompson, it’s been a struggle, but with him, it simply should not be.

Thompson is perhaps the second best shooter in the NBA, behind only Curry, his Splash Brother. It’s extremely unfortunate that he’s been out for two full seasons, but there’s no reason to forget the formula: Curry, Thompson and forward Draymond Green. Throw Wiggins into the mix, and I believe that after that, the team will only require role players.

And those role players can include Wiseman and the upcoming top-10 pick. Too much was expected of Wiseman, especially as a center in Kerr’s motion offense, which often thrives with a small-ball lineup. But he can be a valuable piece, much like former Warriors center JaVale McGee.

There’s nothing wrong with testing the trade market, mostly if the front office is worried about Thompson’s immediate health. But the Warriors can’t freak out because Curry is balling out. What did they expect? For him to play poorly? Stick to the plan. When Thompson returns, the championship race will be on.

(Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

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