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The Golden State Warriors' season has taken on a few different shapes. To start, there was a thought they could, potentially, factor into the championship conversation if they could tread water long enough for Klay Thompson to get back by the playoffs. But then Stephen Curry went down with a broken hand, and suddenly it was all about the tank, even if that's allegedly a four-letter word in Warriors land. 

Truth is, the Warriors haven't had to overtly tank to achieve the same result. They're bad enough to just lose a bunch of games the old-fashioned way, particularly with Curry having been on the shelf for all but four games this season. 

But Curry, per the Warriors, has made "good progress" in his rehab over the last several weeks. He's scheduled to be reevaluated in four weeks, with Golden State "hopeful" he can return at some point in March. Anyone who watched the Warriors through the first four games of the season, small sample size or not, knows Curry isn't going to suddenly turn them into a good team. But he surely makes them a much bigger threat to win any game in which he plays. 

It begs the question: What good does winning even a few more games down the stretch do the Warriors at this point? Positioning themselves to have the best shot possible at landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, or at least a top three pick, is clearly more important than a few victories in a long-lost season. 

The Warriors do have some wiggle room at the bottom of the standings. Entering play on Monday, they have the worst record in the league at 11-39, which is two games worse in the loss column than the Hawks and Cavs, both of whom are 13-37, while the   Knicks are 14-36.  

As the revamped lottery rules dictate, the three worst teams in the league, record wise, each carry a 14-percent shot at securing the No. 1 overall pick. So falling from the worst record to the second- or third-worst record makes no difference. The Warriors, in essence, have a three-loss cushion on the Knicks in the race for a bottom-three spot. 

As it happens, there are three 2020 prospects at the top of most boards: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman. The Warriors, should they decide to keep their pick, would likely prioritize one of those players, as would most every other team, which would in turn give Golden Sate's 2020 pick maximum trade value should they decide to go that route. 

"What I've heard they're looking to do, or would like to do, is to trade Russell and their [2020] No. 1 pick for somebody that can help them right away," a league source told CBS Sports. 

Surely that's not the only route Golden State can take. On Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Warriors and Timberwolves "remain engaged in trade conversations centered around" Russell. The Knicks are also reportedly interested. 

To a potential Wolves-Russell deal, Charania points out that the Warriors "would only consider a deal that has significant draft pick compensation" but so far Minnesota has not been willing to part with its 2020 first-round pick. Entering Monday, the Timberwolves are 15-33, which is the fifth-worst record in the league, so they're 2020 pick is very likely going to be a high-lottery selection. 

That would potentially give Golden State a pair of top-five 2020 draft picks, which would open up multiple options. Golden State could use both those picks to lay the foundation for when the Curry-Thompson-Green era winds down; they could trade one of them for immediate help and keep the other; or they could trade both with some money attached and go bigger-game hunting. 

All of this, of course, ignores what probably remains the most likely scenario ahead of the deadline: The Warriors keep Russell at least through the rest of the season. This is where Curry's potential return this season factors further in, as the Warriors remain pretty much entirely in the dark as to how he and Russell might potentially fit together. 

In essence, should the Warriors indeed bring Curry back for roughly the final month of the season, and as a "consequence" win a few more games down the stretch than they might have otherwise, they would be almost certainly doing that for the sole purpose of gaining valuable information on the Curry-Russell tandem. Otherwise, just let Curry continue to rest. He could surely use it after the five-year run he and the Warriors just finished. 

With the obvious qualification that you can only learn so much over a month of late-season basketball, particularly as Curry will be in the awkward position of trying to regain his own rhythm at the same time he's trying to mesh with a brand-new backcourt mate, the Warriors would essentially be prioritizing this Curry-Russell evaluation period over a potentially higher draft pick. 

"With this draft [class], that makes sense because there's probably not a true franchise player at the top," one Eastern Conference draft scout told CBS Sports. "Like, if there was an Anthony Davis out there, you go for it. A few games of intel, as far as watching Curry and Russell together, that wouldn't be worth losing out on that kind of player. But without that, yeah, go see what you have with [Curry and Russell]. Especially because they're probably going to end up with one of those top [picks] anyway."

A Western Conference scout agreed about the top of the 2020 draft class. 

"Moving from [pick number] 1 or 2 to, say, 5 or 6, the loss in that for the Warriors would be a little bit of trade value," the scout told CBS Sports. "But as far as the guys at the top of [the 2020] class, you look at [LaMelo] Ball, [Anthony] Edwards, [James] Wiseman, those three guys, in my opinion, are all a wild roll of the dice. You don't know what any of those guys are going to turn out to be." 

When the Warriors traded for Russell this past summer, then immediately gave him a four-year, $117 million max contract, debate as to whether that contract made him something of a negative asset immediately ensued. Russell is clearly a terrific, All-Star-level offensive player. One Eastern Conference scout told me earlier this season he thinks Russell might be the best pick-and-roll player in the league, and that in the right situation, with the right offensive system and some defensive cover, he could be a great player. 

The question is whether Golden State represents that "right" situation. This season was supposed to be about finding that out. But then Curry got hurt and the one-year evaluation plan went down the tube. Now, assuming they don't pull a shocker and deal Russell at the trade deadline (Feb. 6), the Warriors are going to have to see what they can ascertain from a one-month evaluation.