SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew Wiggins, at 26 years old and in his eighth NBA season, has become what everybody envisioned when he was the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft: An All-Star.
On Thursday, Wiggins was named a starter for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, his first time making the team as a starter or reserve.
His coach couldn't be happier.
"One of the proudest moments I've had as a coach just to see what Wiggs has done since he got here a couple of years ago," coach Steve Kerr said. "The journey he has traveled has been rocky at times, and to see how hard he's worked and to see all the work rewarded, just could not be any happier for him. The whole organization is glowing right now because of what Wiggs has meant to us, but more importantly, just the way he carries himself every day.
"Just a wonderful guy and he deserves this and we are all thrilled for him."
Wiggins now is in his second full season with the Warriors after being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2019-20 season and playing 12 games with Golden State during that campaign. He now is using his athleticism in all the right ways as a dynamic defender and is using his strengths on offense as a cutter, dunker and driver in Kerr's offense. Wiggins also has improved what was once seen as perhaps an even bigger detriment to his game than his defense.
His shot now is a real strength and opposing teams have to respect his jumper, and that includes from long distance. He's shooting a career-best 48.1 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from 3-point range while averaging 18.1 points per game.
Wiggins leads the Warriors in 3-point percentage going into Thursday night's contest. Steph Curry, the Warriors' other All-Star starter -- and greatest 3-point shooter ever -- is shooting 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.
On defense, Wiggins has produced a career-best 106 defensive rating and his 0.2 defensive box plus-minus is the first time he has ever been in the positive.
"What we had envisioned is Wiggs would replace some of the length and athleticism that we had lost on the wings between Klay [Thompson's] injury, Shaun Livingston's retirement, [Kevin Durant's] departure, [Andre Iguodala's] departure -- we had lost so much defense and size on the wing, so Wiggs fit the bill athletically and size wise," Kerr said.
"And then we still felt like he was a young player and could fit into our system and with time that he would play with Steph and Klay and adapt to some of the things that we did and then add some of the things that we didn't have: His ability to get downhill, his ability to get to the rim. We needed that, too. It just seemed like a really good fit and it's proven to be that, but I think most of that is because Wiggs just comes in and works every single day and he's earned not only the All-Star spot but the position he mans on our team, which is the No. 1 perimeter defender night in and night out and a key cog in our offense."
Kerr clearly placed Wiggins in high regards, and admitted that even he has been pleasantly surprised by just hot great the forward has been with his shot this season and how he can rely on him to catch and shoot, penetrate and move the ball and also be an option at the end of the shot clock when nothing is going.
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Timing has been everything for Wiggins and it couldn't have been more perfect on Thursday.
LeBron James didn't want him as a rookie and as The King came home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he essentially had Wiggins traded from Cleveland to Minnesota for Kevin Love two months after being the No. 1 pick in the draft. Wiggins didn't live up to expectations in Minnesota and was flipped for D'Angelo Russell and what became the No. 7 pick, which then turned into Jonathan Kuminga.
Now, he can call himself an All-Star along with LeBron, the same day the team that changed his career plays his former franchise that could have stagnated it.