Warriors

Wiggins blocks LeBron, hits 3 in his face in epic stretch

Warriors

Andrew Wiggins played like he had a point to prove early in the Warriors' play-in game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday at Staples Center.

Wiggins, whom the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted No. 1 overall in 2014, stopped almost-teammate LeBron James on one end of the floor and drained a big shot over him on the other.

The Cavs, of course, drafted Wiggins shortly before James returned to the team that drafted him as a free agent, and traded him in a package for Kevin Love not long after James signed.

So, perhaps it felt good for Wiggins to block James on a post-up and force a shot clock violation with 7:53 remaining in the first quarter. It might have felt even better for Wiggins when he hit a 3-pointer in James' face just 15 seconds later.

The Cavs should have no regrets, considering they made four consecutive NBA Finals and won the city's first professional sports championship in over five days during James' second stint in Cleveland. Love was a key part of each of these teams, even if he, James and Kyrie Irving didn't quite click as first envisioned.

Of course, Wiggins' performance with the Warriors this season -- in a stable environment he never truly had with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- has to make James wonder what could've been. Wiggins has emerged as the lockdown, 1-on-1 defender many projected he'd become after leaving Kansas.

Does Wiggins reach that potential if he starts his career under James' wing, as the Cavaliers' third option rather than the face of a franchise? Does Cleveland overcome Wiggins' early growing pains and still make the Finals every season of LeBron's return?

 
RELATED: Kerr says there's 'no greater challenge' than beating LeBron

The hypotheticals are endless, and endlessly fascinating, largely because it's hard to imagine any of those scenarios ending with Wiggins defending James in Wednesday's play-in. But a Wiggins-James pairing wasn't meant to be, and now they stand in the way of the other's playoff aspirations.

For one night, at least.