T.J. Warren is the talk of the NBA on Saturday night, and deservedly so.
The Indiana Pacers guard went off for a career-high 53 points in an important win over the Philadelphia 76ers on a very efficient 20-of-29 shooting from the field, including a career-best nine 3-pointers on 12 attempts. In just over 40 minutes of playing time, he only attempted four free throws and converted all of them.
If that kind of incredible stat line sounds familiar to Warriors fans, it should. Warren became one of three NBA players to score at least 50 points with fewer than five free-throw attempts since 2010.
The other two? Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Players with 50+ points while taking fewer than 5 free throw attempts since 2010:— StatMuse (@statmuse) August 2, 2020
- Steph Curry
- Klay Thompson
- TJ Warren pic.twitter.com/pqkHcRhZxb
Thompson accomplished the feat most recently of the Splash Brothers, having scored 52 points -- including an NBA record 14 3-pointers -- while going a perfect 2-of-2 from the charity stripe in a 149-124 win over the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 29, 2018. He did all that in less than 27 minutes of action.
Curry has done it as many times as Thompson and Warren combined, and did so within a span of 23 days.
On Feb. 3, 2016, Curry scored 51 points while converting 2-of-3 free-throw attempts in a 134-121 win over the Washington Wizards. Later that month, on the 25th, he scored 51 again with only a single free-throw attempt in a 130-114 win over the Orlando Magic. He was a combined 21-of-30 from 3-point range over those two performances, and played fewer than 36 minutes in each.
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As for Warren's explosion, though, there's likely one team that feels even worse about it than the Sixers. That would be the Phoenix Suns, who essentially gave Warren away for nothing. Actually, it's worse than that.
Last June, the Suns sent Warren and the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to the Pacers in exchange for... wait for it ... cash considerations.
Phoenix traded Warren out of a desire to create cap space, which potentially could be another parallel to Golden State.
The heist the Pacers pulled off is exactly the kind of thing the Warriors hope to do with their giant $17.2 million trade exception.
The Warriors could absorb a huge salary with that exception -- considerably larger than Warren's $10.8 million cap hit this season -- and given the financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there are going to be several teams looking to unload salary this offseason.
Golden State's finances have been severely impacted by the resulting loss of revenue to be sure, but the Warriors inevitably can withstand it easier than most teams. The franchise was valued at $4.3 billion back in February by Forbes, the fifth-highest in all of professional sports. And with the Splash Brothers, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and a top-five pick in the 2020 draft, the Warriors have every reason to be relatively aggressive in pursuit of another championship.
Don't be surprised if some unexpected -- and big -- names are moved this offseason. And, if the Warriors are able to capitalize on that environment with the use of their trade exception, they could end up with someone capable of making a Warren-like impact.
Or, if you really want to get greedy -- even more significant than that.