Joel Embiid

Why Warriors, 76ers might consider D'Angelo Russell-Ben Simmons trade

Why Warriors, 76ers might consider D'Angelo Russell-Ben Simmons trade

The expectation around the NBA is that the Warriors will combine their top 2020 draft pick with D'Angelo Russell in a major trade this coming summer. As for who Golden State would receive in return, that's still very much unknown.

Whether it's Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl Anthony-Towns or any other of the best NBA players currently rumored to possibly be available depending on future outcomes, you can be sure that the Warriors will be associated with just about anyone that qualifies for superstar status and particularly those that become disgruntled with their incumbent situations.

Given the way the Philadelphia 76ers' season has proceeded thus far, both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid potentially are names you could add to that list.

In analyzing the Sixers' current problems, TrueHoop's David Thorpe made the case that a Russell (plus the pick) for Simmons trade would make sense for both sides.

"For basketball reasons I could talk about all day, I think Simmons would be most useful to the Golden State Warriors," Thorpe wrote. "The 76ers would get D'Angelo Russell, Kevon Looney and the Warriors' 2020 lottery pick. That gives Philadelphia a brilliant pick-and-roll point guard ... "

Based on a Twitter poll, however, it appears most people believe that sort of trade would be fairly one-sided in the Warriors' favor.

[RELATED: Report: Lee, Dubs working to finalize multiyear contract]

The 76ers have lost four of their last five games, currently sit at a disappointing fifth in the Eastern Conference standings and are flawed from a roster construction standpoint. Should Philadelphia experience an early-round playoff exit, that could be the final push required to force the Sixers to make a big change.

If they feel compelled to do so, you can be sure the Warriors will inquire.

NBA rumors: Warriors won't shop D'Angelo Russell before trade deadline

NBA rumors: Warriors won't shop D'Angelo Russell before trade deadline

If you're a Warriors fan and are hoping D'Angelo Russell gets traded before the Feb. 6 deadline, you won't like the latest intel.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe discussed D-Lo's situation with Golden State on Sunday.

Wojnarowski: "If you are going to move D'Angelo Russell, it is in a big deal. To me, a scenario where he could move is (with) that number one pick. The Warriors could have the No. 1 overall pick -- you got to see where it is.

"He's not available, (but) that would be like a Bradley Beal level player. You're (the Wizards) getting a potential cornerstone pick and a 23-year-old All-Star. I think there are very few scenarios in the league where that's available to them (the Warriors).

"It doesn't make much sense for Golden State to be out there canvassing the league. Wait until the season's over, see what it looks like. I know this -- they're not going to be making calls on D'Angelo Russell. People may call them.

"I think D'Angelo is playing this season, at the very least, and maybe even beyond in Golden State. He's still a very valuable asset."

Lowe: "There's a healthy debate within the league about whether D'Angelo Russell has positive or negative trade value on that max contract. The bottom line is, D'Angelo plus whatever that pick ends up being -- that's where you let the playoffs play out and see if they create a new star that wants out or a new situation goes haywire.

"And whatever the best deal for D'Angelo Russell that exists now or in February, will be there again in the summer. There's no rush to do this."

Correct. Totally agree. Yes sir, correct and correct again.

Unless a team makes an offer they simply can't pass up, the Warriors should wait until the NBA Draft Lottery in mid-May determines their draft position.

The Dubs (5-23) currently have the worst record in the league. If they finish the season in that spot, they would have a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, and automatically would get a top-five selection.

To Lowe's point about a star demanding a trade -- if the Bucks lose earlier than expected and Giannis Antetokounmpo declines the supermax, Milwaukee could be forced to trade the Greek Freak. If that comes to fruition, the Warriors need to have as many assets as possible at their disposal.

Likewise, what if Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons demand a trade from Philadelphia? Are your wheels spinning yet?

[RELATEDKerr says Dubs' Russell hasn't let trade rumors affect him]

Almost anything is possible in today's NBA, and the Warriors want to be ready to strike if and when an opportunity presents itself.

And finally -- just because it sounds like Golden State won't be making a blockbuster move in the near future, that doesn't mean the front office won't be looking to execute some smaller trades.

As we discussed last week, don't be surprised if the Warriors make a series of moves to avoid paying the luxury tax this season. If they duck below the tax threshold before July 1, tens of millions of dollars would be saved.

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Warriors' Draymond Green rated as best NBA defender by FiveThirtyEight

Warriors' Draymond Green rated as best NBA defender by FiveThirtyEight

You know you're either really good or really bad at something if they name a statistic after you.

In the case of Warriors forward Draymond Green, it's most definitely the former option.

The former Defensive Player of the Year has long been regarded as one of the top all-around defenders in the NBA. However, the ways in which we've been able to evaluate defensive performance up to this point haven't painted the whole picture. Blocks and steals are good, sure, but there's a lot more that goes into being a good defender then simply collecting stats in those categories. 

Similarly, the league-provided opponent shooting data can produce the unintended consequence of punishing good defenders, simply due to being the nearest defender to the shot. After all, if the defender hadn't been there at all, there's no guarantee anyone else would have, and some defense is typically better than none. 

It's with that disconnect in mind that FiveThirtyEight set out to develop a better way to evaluate NBA defense. And which player have they chosen to name their model after?

None other than Green, of course.

FiveThirtyEight's 'DRAYMOND' metric stands for Defensive Rating Accounting for Yielding Minimal Openness by Nearest Defender. A mouthful, I know.

But don't be daunted by the name. Without dumbing it down too much, DRAYMOND essentially calculates a player's effectiveness at minimizing the openness of opponent shots, relative to the rest of the league. It's a plus-minus statistic measured per 100 possessions, where a score of 0 represents average defense.

And, among all players who have played at least 10,000 possessions over the last six seasons, guess who rates out as the top defender, according to DRAYMOND?

That's right. Draymond. Duh.

Since the 2013-14 season, Green leads all such players with a DRAYMOND rating of plus-3.16, meaning he's been worth an average of 3.16 points per 100 possessions of defensive value over that span based on his scoring defense alone. That doesn't even factor in the other ways (blocks, steals, etc.) in which he makes a more traditionally measured defensive impact.

What's even more impressive is that Green has played far and away the most possessions (38,282) over that span of any of the top-ranked players according to DRAYMOND. Only two other players in the top-20 have played at least 30,000 possessions over the last six seasons.

After Green, DRAYMOND ranks Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Dallas' Kristaps Porzingis, Utah's Rudy Gobert (the reigning Defensive Player of the Year), Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, Oklahoma City's Andre Roberson and Los Angeles' Anthony Davis as the best defenders dating back to 2013-14, which -- for the most part -- passes the eye test.

Green took a step back defensively last season, though, posting a DRAYMOND rating of plus-1.76 points per 100 possessions. However, only one other NBA player -- Giannis Antetokounmpo -- played more possessions than Green and rated higher.

Golden State's best defender last season, according to DRAYMOND? That would be Kevon Looney, who ranked eighth-best in the NBA with a DRAYMOND rating of plus-2.72 points per 100 possessions.

[RELATED: Warriors won't let anyone forget greatness of dynastic run]

As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. But based on the results produced by the DRAYMOND metric, it seems to do a better job of highlighting the top defenders in the league than the more rudimentary statistics we've generally relied upon until now.

Green believes he's the best defender in the NBA. Now DRAYMOND does, too.