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The Andrew Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell trade is a win-win

The most hyped up deal of the NBA trade deadline has arrived.

The most hyped deal of the 2020 NBA trade deadline has finally come to fruition. D’Angelo Russell is going to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Andrew Wiggins is headed to the Golden State Warriors in a jarring deal struck hours before the deadline passed Thursday afternoon.

Golden State is also sending a pair of young role-players to Minnesota in the deal, while the Wolves are adding a lightly protected first-round draft pick.

Here’s the full breakdown of the trade between the Timberwolves and Warriors.

Golden State Warriors acquire: Andrew Wiggins, a top-three protected first-round pick that becomes unprotected in 2022, and a 2021 second-round pick

Minnesota Timberwolves acquire: D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, and Omari Spellman

This is the Timberwolves’ second trade of the deadline after playing a part in the massive four-team, 12-player swap that went down early Tuesday morning. In that deal, the Timberwolves sent out Robert Covington and an assortment of young role players for Malik Beasley, a first-round pick that originally belonged to the Nets, and more young role-players.

The Wolves landed the guard they desperately wanted in Russell, who doubles as a close friend of Karl-Anthony Towns. The Warriors landed what is potentially going to be an extremely valuable draft pick, in addition Wiggins, who fills their hole at small forward.

Let’s break down this deal from every side.

What the Minnesota Timberwolves are getting

The Wolves chased Russell hard as a free agent in the summer of 2019 only to see him end up in Golden State as part of a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Durant. Minnesota never stopped chasing Russell and finally landed their man.

Russell fills Minnesota’s giant hole at point guard. An all-star in 2019, Russell’s numbers are slightly better this season as he moved from the Nets to the Warriors. He is averaging 23.6 points and 6.2 assists per game on 55.8 percent true shooting. Russell is a high-volume shooter and scorer who also helps fill the Wolves’ big need for improved three-point shooting. He’s hit 37.4 percent of the 9.7 three-pointers he’s attempted this year.

The biggest beneficiary of this deal might be Towns. Towns counts Russell as a close friend and has been visibly dismayed this season as Minnesota has fallen out of the playoff race. The Wolves still have a long way to go, but they now have a cornerstone in the backcourt to match their cornerstone in the front court. Picking up the Nets’ 2020 pick in the Covington deal helps off-set the loss of the first rounder they gave up for Russell.

The Wolves will remain a major question mark on the defensive end, where Towns and Russell both struggle. There’s no denying this is a major boost for the offense though. Surround Towns and Russell with perimeter players like Jarrett Culver, Beasley, and Josh Okogie, and suddenly a fun team is starting to come into focus.

With Towns and Russell locked up for the foreseeable future, the Wolves have made a bold move to resurrect a franchise that has one playoff appearance in the last 15 seasons.

Grade: A-

What the Golden State Warriors are getting

This was always a lost season for the Warriors after Kevin Durant departed via free agency and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were lost to injury. Russell was going to be an imperfect fit in the backcourt when Curry and Thompson returned. The Warriors have now flipped Russell to fill a bigger positional need on the wing while adding a future lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

Wiggins’ inclusion in the deal will draw the most headlines. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Wiggins has failed to live up to his substantial hype, especially after signing a five-year, $147 million extension in 2017. While Wiggins has been maligned for failing to play with a consistent motor, he is enjoying the best year of his career this season. Wiggins heads to Golden State averaging 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 53.5 percent true shooting. He’s hitting 33.1 percent of his three-pointers on 6.5 attempts from deep per game.

Wiggins is a more natural fit positionally alongside Curry and Thompson. Doubters will wonder if he has the competitive fire, basketball IQ, and reliable outside shot to truly help the Warriors. While Wiggins is far from a perfect player on a hefty contract, he is about to turn just 25 years old. He also isn’t the only part of the deal.

The draft pick going from the Wolves to the Warriors could be huge. The Wolves are protecting the pick in the top three of the 2021 draft. It would then be unprotected in 2022. Whether the Warriors use the pick to continuing adding young depth around their aging stars or include the selection in a trade for an established player, the pick is going to have a lot of value. The 2021 draft is much more talented than the 2020 draft, and the 2022 draft could be the first to include high school players.

Wiggins is a flawed player, but he does fill a positional need and has youth, length, and athleticism on his side. The pick could be a major boon eventually whether it’s used or flipped. For a player in Russell who wasn’t an ideal fit in the bay, this looks like a solid deal.

Grade: A-