NBA Photos/Getty Images
30. Golden State Warriors (30)
Alec Burks scored 30 points in his final game with the Warriors, last Monday’s 125-117 win over the Washington Wizards. That could be the last game Golden State wins for a while as Burks was joined on his way out by Glenn Robinson III and D’Angelo Russell.
All told, the Warriors traded away three of their top four scorers at the deadline, plus Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans, both of whom had spent time in the rotation this season. Andrew Wiggins, the high-priced return in the Russell deal, has a lot of slack to pick up.
He looked good in his Golden State debut, scoring 24 points on only 12 shots, finishing through contact at the rim and playing solid one-on-one defense when matched up against LeBron James on Saturday. The Dubs fell 125-120, but between Wiggins’ strong game, Marquese Chriss’ energetic 26 points and Jordan Poole’s fourth-quarter scoring flurry, the Warriors managed to present an entertaining product.
Wiggins is supposed to fill a role that’ll look a lot like the one Harrison Barnes vacated in 2016. But we won’t really see how he fits until Golden State is at full strength next year. The very earliest returns were promising.
Already at the bottom of the league, the Warriors lost talent at the deadline. They may be here a while.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (28)
The Cavs’ decision to add Andre Drummond to a frontcourt that already had Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love was one of the trade deadline’s biggest surprises…right up there with how little it cost Cleveland to land a two-time All-Star who’s on pace to lead the league in rebounding for the fourth time in five years.
All it took was John Henson, Brandon Knight and a second-rounder.
That’s a damning assessment of the value old-school centers possess in a downsizing NBA. The Detroit Pistons decided they’d take back virtually nothing to eliminate the risk of Drummond opting into the final year of his deal this summer, and the Cavs now have to wring their hands over that possibility.
Cleveland can afford the flier and may have wisely opted to take on Drummond’s money now rather than try to spend its cap space in a barren 2020 free-agent market. It seems like the Cavs’ ceiling with Drummond is the “occasionally half-decent” level Detroit has occupied for the last several seasons, but that looks pretty good when you’ve lost six in a row and sit at 13-40 for the year.
Oh, and no, I’m sorry, but you’ll never convince me Cedi Osman did this on purpose.
28. Charlotte Hornets (26)
Charlotte beat the New York Knicks back on Jan. 28. Let’s cling to that for a moment, really savor it before this next bit. OK, ready? I’ll make it quick.
Outside of that lone win, the Hornets have been an absolute disaster for over a month. They’re 1-13 in their last 14 games and haven’t even managed to lose by single digits since Jan. 13.
Malik Monk uncorks a highlight lob finish every now and then. But other than that, it’s rough in Charlotte right now. At least Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist get to finish their seasons elsewhere. The Hornets bought both of them out this week.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (29)
D’Angelo Russell has his warts, but he’s younger and cheaper than Andrew Wiggins, plays a position of greater need, is still improving and, most of all, is good pals with Karl-Anthony Towns, the guy whose personal satisfaction means more than anything to the Timberwolves’ future.
So, happier now, KAT?
Russell, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez are part of a list that includes a whopping seven new players acquired around the deadline. Towns and Josh Okogie are the only current holdovers from last year’s Wolves roster. Normally, you’d worry about chemistry with so many new additions. But Minnesota was so awful in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline that almost any shakeup is a benefit.
Case in point: Beasley hit seven of Minnesota’s franchise-record 26 threes in Saturday’s shocking 142-115 obliteration of the Los Angeles Clippers—a game historians will puzzle over for centuries to come. The Wolves got 24 points and 11 assists from Jordan McLaughlin and basically buried the Clips by halftime. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were both in L.A.’s lineup, which makes the whole thing even harder to explain.
It was the Wolves’ first win since Jan. 9, ending an interminable 13-game losing streak.
26. Detroit Pistons (24)
The Pistons made the right call in jettisoning Andre Drummond, removing any chance he’d opt in to the final year and $28.8 million of his deal this summer. Though the return was minimal, let’s not discount the opportunity the Drummond trade created for another Detroit big man.
Christian Wood started in Drummond’s place Friday, totaling 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists while shooting 3-of-6 from long range in a 108-101 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though Drummond was no stranger to gaudy box-score figures, he never posted a game like that. Wood is going to shine over the next couple of months.
Detroit has lost three of its last four, Derrick Rose hasn’t played since Feb. 2 because of a strained left adductor, and Reggie Jackson might be nearing a buyout. That said, it’s somehow easier to be optimistic about the Pistons’ future in light of their wise decision to move off Drummond and the potential of Wood and rookie Sekou Doumbouya.