No. 7 pick puts bow on lopsided Wiggins-Russell trade


Like D.B. Cooper, Bob Myers and the Warriors made a clean getaway Tuesday night, disappearing into the night with their robbery of the Minnesota Timberwolves complete.

No, the ping-pong balls didn't bounce exactly the way the Warriors would have liked at the NBA Draft Lottery. But the critical aspect of their plan went off without a hitch, as the Timberwolves' 2021 first-round pick landed at No. 7 and conveyed to the Warriors, putting a bow on Golden State's fleecing of Minnesota in the Andrew Wiggins-D'Angelo Russell trade.

At least, for now.

The Warriors hold the No. 7 and No. 14 picks in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft and should be fielding any and all trade calls in an attempt to get Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green more help for a chance at a title run next season.

But, for now, let's put the Warriors' heist in the Wiggins-Russell deal in the books alongside the great robberies of the past, somewhere between Doug MacRay's North End heist and Dominic Torretto and Brian O'Conner jacking that vault in Rio.

In truth, this is the culmination, for now, of Myers' plan to lessen the blow of losing Kevin Durant two summers ago.

With Durant set to pack his bags, Myers utilized the only option he had to recoup an asset and acquired Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

While the Warriors maintained they saw Russell as potentially part of their future, it was clear that he wasn't a fit alongside Curry and that Golden State planned to turn Russell into something that would benefit their desired dynastic restart.

Enter the Timberwolves, who had long coveted Russell, hoping to pair him with good friend Karl-Anthony Towns in order to help keep the star big man happy in Minnesota.

The Warriors were able to use that desperation against Minnesota, acquiring Wiggins and the Timberwolves' top-three protected first-round pick in 2021 for Russell.

The pick was seen as the crown jewel of the deal. Given the fact that the Timberwolves had won more than 35 games just twice in the last six seasons and only made the playoffs once in that span, the pick was almost certain to be a high lottery selection this season.

But while all eyes focused on the pick, Wiggins thrived in his first full season with the Warriors.

Wiggins averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists while posting career-highs in shooting percentages (48 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three) and played in all but one game. On the defensive end of the floor, the 26-year-old was a great 3-and-D wing who showed the ability and willingness to take on the challenge of guarding the opponent's best player on a nightly basis.

Wiggins is a long, rangy win who shot an effective clip and would appear to be an ideal fit alongside Curry, Thompson and Green.

However, while Wiggins seems to be a long-term fit in Golden State, his contract -- which previously was seen as bloated -- now is more palatable for teams to take back if a superstar should become available on the trade market this summer.

That is where the Warriors' heist of the Timberwolves can go to a Neil McCauley level.

Wiggins was fantastic last season, but if the Warriors can find a way to turn him, the No. 7 pick, and perhaps James Wiseman into another superstar to pair with Curry, Thompson and Green, then they will have effectively restarted their dynasty and survived Durant's exodus.

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Russell, 25, had a good season in Minnesota, averaging 19.0 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3-point range. He's a good scoring guard but given his defensive limitations and high usage rate, it's unclear if he can be the second or third-best player on a title-contending team.

He was never going to fit in the Warriors' puzzle, and they found a way to turn him into a 26-year-old two-way wing and a top-seven pick in a loaded draft, both of whom could either help the Warriors in their ascent back to the top or be used as chips to acquire the true missing piece.

It was a masterstroke of genius on Myers' part, not only to make sure Durant didn't leave the Warriors empty-handed but also to find a way to turn that asset into multiple assets that better fit Golden State's planned resurrection.

Myers robbed Gersson Rosas blind and simply left Russell in his office with a thank you card attached.

Now Myers can sit back and admire his work.

A successful heist that John Dillinger and whoever robbed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum would be proud of could be the catalyst for the Warriors' return to the title stage.

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