The NBA is a copycat league. When a certain type of player finds success, teams try to find comparable players. Recently, we’ve seen an influx of 3-and-D wings who can create their own shot. There are few players more useful than this archetype.
After all, 3-and-D wings can play with anyone. They’re the most portable player type in the league. So, when they can create their own shot, they’re especially valuable. These types of players are role players and stars at the same time.
Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets is one of the best examples in the NBA right now. With that said, the Nets are in an odd position. This team isn’t ready to contend, but without control of their own draft, they have no incentive to tank either. Could they be interested in flipping Bridges for a similar, lesser player and some draft capital? How about Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors?
These are highly valuable players. Still, their value depreciates if they aren’t paired with a playmaker or two. Even shot-creating wings need a playmaker. An NBA offense that’s built around a shot creator alone is likely to become stagnant – quickly.
The Nets learned that lesson this season. Yes, Bridges emerged as a shot creator. When he a member of the Phoenix Suns, he looked more like a pure 3-and-D. That’s a great development for the Nets, but their offense wasn’t exactly unbeatable. Bridges is likely more equipped to be a second option than a first option in this league.
On the other hand, the Warriors have been perfectly built to host Wiggins. Between Steph Curry and Draymond Green, they have a surplus of playmaking. With that structure established, a 3-and-D wing with some secondary shot creation is a perfect fit for their roster. Is Bridges enough of an upgrade over Wiggins to give up some draft capital?
The Warriors are making a simple win-now upgrade here. Some will suggest that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. To be sure, there’s some risk involved here. If it doesn’t result in another NBA title for the Warriors, they’ll have forfeited draft capital for no reason.
Isn’t that always the risk with a win-now trade? The Warriors have enough talent to win a title – why not make a push? Yes, Wiggins is a good player. Bridges is a significant upgrade. The Warriors could deploy him in the exact same way that they’ve used Wiggins, and they’ll be a better team.
Bridges is a substantially better defender. He’s also a more advanced shot creator. If the Warriors are looking to make another title run, Bridges could help them make it. What can Wiggins help the Nets do?
The Nets have a lot of 3-and-D wings. Bridges is the best shot creator of the bunch, but our original point stands. Without a dynamic playmaker on this team, they aren’t likely to get very far. Partly, this deal is about landing a dynamic playmaker – in time.
After all, the Nets already have one of the best collections of draft capital in the NBA. This deal has them adding an unprotected first and a swap. Meanwhile, they’ll still have Wiggins on the roster on a long-term contract. When they eventually move that draft capital for a star, they’ll still have a 3-and-D wing with some secondary shot creation chops.
Think about it. Would you rather have Bridges, or Wiggins and Trae Young? How about Donovan Mitchell? The Nets are ensuring that they’ve got a competitive offer for the next star playmaker to become available by making this deal. Even in a copycat league, they should have a leg up on the competition.