Grade the Mock Trade: Giannis joins forces with Wembanyama on Spurs

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks and Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks and Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Do the Spurs say yes to this deal?

There are two big-picture questions to ask when evaluating a superstar trade for the Spurs, and one smaller-picture question. The first thing they need to do is look at their team, at the skill level of VIctor Wembanyama right now, and ask if he is ready to win now. If they believe Wembanyama will step into the league as an All-Star and the right additions could make them a playoff team, this kind of a deal makes more sense.

If they have hesitations in that area, waiting to let this young core grow organically - which appears to be their current path - makes more sense. Still, that's not a given to helping them build a better contender; their young players will get more expensive and make it more difficult to clear max cap space to sign a star in free agency. Waiting isn't always better.

The second big question is whether Giannis Antetokounmpo is the right player to target in a superstar trade. Would Joel Embiid be a better player to pursue? Would a smaller swing for Zach LaVine be better? Do they wait for the Suns to fall apart and go after Devin Booker?

Those are all major question marks, and while having an on-ball guard or wing makes positional sense, the frontcourt pairing of Giannis and Victor is tantalizing. Antetokounmpo is elite as a rover and weakside shot-blocker, putting Wembanyama at the rim. On offense, Wembanyama's jumpshot and handle would force defenders to guard him on the perimeter, opening up space inside for Giannis, and a France-Greece pick-and-roll could go either way and absolutely shred defenders trying to figure out how to slow them down.

The final question is whether this package makes sense. The core the Spurs would be building around would be Tre Jones and Devin Vassell alongside Victor Wembanyama and Giannis Antetokounmpo. That's the foundation of a top-5 defense, but they would need to have shooting they can trust to fill out the lineup.

Adding a top-5 player is a nearly impossible task in the NBA, so pushing chips in to add Antetokounmpo makes sense. On the other hand, the best years of Wembanyama's career are still a half-decade away, and the Spurs don't have a winning infrastructure in place. Making a move for Giannis does seem like rushing the timeline.

Given the way Antetokounmpo's game will likely decline as he ages, this probably isn't the right move to make to push the chips in. But it's intriguing, and the pairing of Giannis and Wemby would be phenomenal.

Grade: B-


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