Warriors

Dub Nation’s Desire for Beal Ultimately Unrealistic

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For the third year in a row, Bradley Beal is playing tremendously for a struggling Washington Wizards team. He’s overseen a catastrophic John Wall injury, a high-profile trade for Russell Westbrook, and a 63-112 team. Yet somehow, Scott Brooks is still coaching, and the frustration on all sides has reached a crisis mark. Beal is currently the league-leading scorer at 33.3 points per game despite, understandably, not playing at his highest level on both ends of the floor.

It’s challenging to imagine Beal staying with all the chatter and visible displays of frustration on and off the court. He has reinforced his commitment to Washington, but the likelihood of him moving by the deadline increases with every terrible loss, and both sides would likely sign off on an agreeable deal.

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When a player of Beal’s quality hits the market, situations get weird.

When Beal hit the Twitter market, there was a flurry of deals thrown around, some making far more sense than others. And the struggles of Warriors not named Wardell Curry to score at a consistently high level connected the trade-machine dots. The Warriors’ roster construction makes it impossible to break down every potential deal that could occur. Still, they follow a pretty general trend: most (if not all) of the Dubs’ tradeable assets and players for one (1) Bradley Emmanuel Beal.

Why They Should Do It

Reasons one, two and three are all about Steph. Though the Warriors expect Klay Thompson to make a full return next year, scoring help is not on the horizon this season. Balancing the offense with another dominant scorer would make Steph’s life a lot easier on the offensive end.

Reason number two is Curry’s impending 33rd birthday. Barring a massive swing in play from other players on the roster, the Warriors won’t be contending during another MVP-caliber season from Steph.

Acquiring someone like Beal changes the outlook for contention this season. Depending on the deal’s nature, it could vault the Warriors into the West’s upper echelon. An agreement to get Steph in the mix for an extra season is an effortless choice, but workable deals aren’t on the table.

Reason number three is the lack of playmaking around Steph. Beal’s on-ball skills combined with the defensive attention he commands would give Steph more comfortable looks nightly. Banking on 55-60 points a night from your starting backcourt would be a tremendous floor-raiser for a team struggling to find consistency.

If they can swing the right deal, it could up the ceiling for this season and coming seasons. But the Warriors have a tight opportunity window with the trades they make– the wrong move could not only cost them Steph’s remaining years, but many years after that.

Why They Shouldn’t

Aside from one specific deal, the Warriors would likely have to part with Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins to make the deal work. Swapping Beal for Wiggins doesn’t present a substantial lineup issue as Oubre can move to small forward, but removing Draymond from of the lineup could get tricky. Wiggins is playing a career-high 45% of his minutes as a four this season, but those have come mainly with the smaller second unit, and the Dubs may not be comfortable with him starting there. Oubre moving to the bench full-time is an exciting proposition, but the weaknesses upfront would be agonizing to accept.

It’s unlikely a deal could unfold without the Warriors, including James Wiseman. Losing the top-two players in the frontcourt leaves Kevon Looney and Eric Paschall to pick up the slack. And that’s assuming they can keep EP out of the deal. The idea of trading Dray for Beal would devastate the front office, fans and most importantly, the players. The problems losing Draymond creates all but rules out the likelihood of him being in a Beal deal.

Continued Success

Including Wiggins for Beal not only works for this season but for next as well. Despite his struggles, Oubre can still play the three comfortably with his defensive ability. The presence of a second elite scorer would reduce his offensive burden. Many have suggested the idea of moving Klay to small forward eventually. He’s so strong defensively that the move should work well, and guarding slower players would keep his legs fresher and healthier.

Moving Klay away from Steph leaves a vacuum defensively next to Steph, one Beal probably cannot fill. His offensive role, teammates and motivation play a part, but he’s one of the league’s worst defenders. Oubre’s aggression against No. 1 opposing guards gives Steph a less-challenging time on defense. He thrives playing off the ball on that end, but minutes with him and Beal would be ugly defensively. Even if Klay and Draymond are a positive against opposing forwards, it leaves the Warriors struggling defensively– something they haven’t experienced much.

The only deal that adequately balances both present and future is Oubre, Wiseman and additional assets for Beal. A lineup with Steph, Beal, Wiggins and Green still presents the same defensive problems. Only one of the Wizards’ four-man lineup combinations with Beal receiving significant minutes has a defensive rating below 115, which is atrocious. They’d starve for center minutes with little left to solve that problem, with the Minnesota pick and others included.

The signs of Draymond being a strong small-ball five were there against the Mavericks. The Warriors still need big healthy bodies come May. Making a deal contingent on other deals happening or existing players staying healthy is a sizable risk.

The Verdict

Unless the Wizards feel inclined to take non-Minnesota picks and leave James Wiseman in Golden State, there isn’t a deal that makes sense. The urgency to capitalize on having a top-10 all-time player on your roster is real. Steph is a unicorn talent that the Warriors or the NBA will never see the likes of again.

And for a team like the Warriors, the chances to grab another Hall of Fame-level talent are rare. A less-than-stellar draft record the past five seasons diminishes the chances of hitting on a lottery-ticket player. Ultimately, Wiseman and the Minnesota pick represent the best chance Golden State has to continue what Steph has built. By my way-too-early estimate, there are 7-8 potentially franchise-altering players in the upcoming draft, and the Warriors could hold two picks in the top 20 if things break their way.

Elite players run the league as they always have, and the chance of having multiple young, elite talents with the Big Three is too good to pass up. Sacrificing those chances for a win-now move is shortsighted for a team focused on sustained excellence. Beal would look impressive in blue and yellow, but it’s nothing more than a pipe dream at this juncture. I give the rumors four out of five Kendrick Perkins in the BS rankings.

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About Charlie Cummings

Warriors writer born and raised in the Bay Area. University of Denver graduate currently living in Denver

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