Meet the newest Warrior: Brad Wanamaker signs one-year $2.25 million contract
Warriors still have space for more moves, rumored to be "interested" in Marc Gasol
As the dust settles on day 2 of NBA free agency, the Golden State Warriors have emerged with a new backup point guard. Brad Wanamaker may not be flashy, or even a recognizable name, but he fills a need for the Warriors, and comes at a bargain price - so we are going to call this one a win.
For the Warriors, it’s an upgrade at the backup point guard position - a spot that the team has been struggling to fill for years. With a heightened need for additional shooting, the Warriors released Ky Bowman earlier this week. Bowman was fine, but his 30.8% shooting percentage from deep was a luxury that this team could no longer afford.
It’s also a tremendous find - assuming he works out - for a team that was getting more and more desperate for a backup point guard, but having little money to offer (remember that the Disabled Player Exception is not yet available).
In his two seasons with the Boston Celtics, Wanamaker has averaged 37.6% on three-pointers; and he finished second in the entire league on catch-and-shoot three-point percentage. There’s a lot to like here, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Marc Gasol, anyone?
The free agent market dried up real fast this year, with team and players quickly coming to terms. With fewer and fewer names still floating around out there, and the appeal of Golden State at the lowest it has been in a decade, depending on who you asked, the Warriors were either calmly waiting for the right fit, or lame ducks on their way out of the conversation.
It’s just the thinnest whisper of a rumor, but nonetheless here you go:
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespnAt this hour, Toronto is still working to convince free agent Marc Gasol to return on a new deal, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/p8kHA9js0k
The term “showing interest” is, of course, doing a whole lot of work in that tweet. I’m interested in a whole lot of stuff that isn’t even aware I exist. Likewise, the Warriors seem like a significant long shot for a player like Gasol. One of the elite two way centers in the league, of course Golden State would be interested in hiring him. But Gasol is apparently testing the waters outside of Toronto, and can essentially write his job description at whatever team he wants to go play for.
There’s a natural harmonic here. Gasol’s famed defensive mindset and newly developed three-point range would be just what the doctor ordered for a Warriors team that is desperately trying to fill Klay Thompson’s Anta shoes. And for newly minted Warriors draftee, James Wiseman, spending a rookie year getting yelled at (constructively, of course) by Draymond Green and Marc Gasol is just about the best case scenario.
From Gasol’s perspective, he would get to play in a Steve Kerr system that understands and utilizes his strengths as a playmaker; while also landing on a team that is extremely familiar with accommodating a large, aging center with limited minutes to offer.
This is a huge reach. Gasol is certainly concurrently fielding calls from almost every title-contending team, including his incumbent Toronto Raptors. And as much fun as it would be to play alongside Stephen Curry within Steve Kerr’s system, this is far from the safe bet if you are looking for your best shot at another title. But who knows?
For now, that Woj tweet essentially is the story.
Brad Wanamaker who?
We’ve already established that he’s an elite threat in regards to catch-and-shoot threes, but get a sense of his play style and background, and you’ll see what the Warriors did (beyond just the fact that he was available for cheap).
With the second-best assist to turnover ratio on the Celtics last year, it looks like the Warriors have got their backup point guard. And at a stout 6-foot-4, 210 pounds with a 6-8 wingspan, Wanamaker has the size and length to defend well enough to cover switch heavy rotations - again, a shortcoming of recently released Bowman. According to Cleaning the Glass, when Wanamaker guarded opposing point guards, their shots were converted at a mere 50% effective field goal percentage - a defensive metric that is in the top 10% of for all players at the position. That wingspan also gives the Warriors roster a certain look:
Additionally when you look at his shooting accuracy, it’s worth noting that his conversion percentages are excellent, both at the rim, as well as from deep. This is a player that should thrive in a Kerr system that prioritizes getting good looks over handing the ball to your best player and letting him go to work.
Reportedly, his handle isn’t the best, but if the Warriors can get this guy decent looks, he’s got a better than average chance of making it count. If Curry is going to carry the offense, then Golden State has a vested interest in getting enough shooters on the roster so that he never has to play through a “Box+1” defense ever again.
So what’s left?
Ok, so before we look at the depth chart, here’s the confirmation that the Warriors have formally requested the DPE for Thompson’s injury. The value is just north of nine million dollars, which should be enough to make a competitive bid for any number of remaining targets.
The NBA will formally review and approve this request for an additional contract vehicle, but there is no formal timeline provided. It’s widely assumed that the Warriors will request an expedited review process, as free agency is moving faster than Speedy Claxton.
(yes, that’s a deep cut reference for the old heads)
For my money, I’d love to see either Marc Gasol, or PJ Tucker. Though I’m not totally sold on the need for an additional big, either one of those players would be an upgrade that’s too significant to ignore… unfortunately, that same fact is precisely why it’s unlikely that either of these players falls into Golden State’s lap.
That said, looking at this depth chart, I can’t help but wish for someone off the bench that can shoot and defend - and ideally even initiate offense a bit. Notably, Oubre and Wiggins are both nominally small forwards. I think we can get away with calling them whatever we want, but the guard rotation behind Curry makes me nervous:
Of the options out there, Nic Batum would seem like a good bet. Though he also slots in as a small forward rather than shooting guard, the skillset overlaps enough to make it work for a season.
A realistic option could also be our old pal Glenn Robinson the third. Familiar with the system here, he can shoot and defend, and is self-aware enough to not force shots he shouldn’t be taking. Plus, with nothing more than the leftover MLE money (estimated to be just south of $3.5 million), I think he’s a realistic target.