The same few fluctuating claims have followed Andrew Wiggins throughout his eight seasons in the NBA.
He doesn’t care enough. He coasts on defense. The talent is clearly there, but does he really love the game of basketball?
As Wiggins showed even before he arrived to the Warriors via a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves at the 2019-20 deadline, he has the ability to get hot and temporarily put all doubts to rest.
During a two-month stretch in December and January, he averaged 18.1 points and shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range, a 26-game span that earned him one of 10 spots as an NBA All-Star starter.
But then, Wiggins disappeared. While the Warriors battled through key injuries to Steph Curry, Draymond Green and others to close out the regular-season schedule, Wiggins' production slumped to 15.7 points per game and a 33.7 percent clip from deep after the All-Star break. He knocked down a head-scratching 56.3 percent of attempts from the free-throw line in that span, nearly wiping away all of his All-Star authority and calling into question whether he has what it takes to contribute to Golden State's championship run.
In an interview with 95.7 The Game’s Mark Willard and Dan Dibley on Tuesday, Warriors player development coach Bruce Fraser shined a light on the Warriors' forward and cleared up any questions about the 27-year-old's misunderstood monotone manner.
“He’s got a quiet demeanor,” Fraser said. “But he’s more competitive than you think. It’s hard to play at this level, honestly, if you don’t have a competitive spirit.
"The knock on [Wiggins] is he’s always been so talented that he just is successful on his talent. But what you don’t see in him is an internal fire that burns. He’s competitive. He wants to win."
Wiggins showed that fire while being the Warriors' most important player in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks at Chase Center on Wednesday night. With Gary Payton II still out with a fractured elbow, Wiggins was given the team's most critical task in its game plan to defeat the Mavs -- stop superstar Luka Dončić.
Guarded by Wiggins for much of the Warriors' 112-87 victory over Dallas, Dončić was limited to 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and tallied more turnovers (7) than field goals made (6). Wiggins passed the test, silencing the doubters once again.
"He’s a very good basketball player," Fraser said. "He’s skilled. The one thing that’s helped him here is we have a really good culture where all his things that people spoke on in the past have come around. He’s been a great addition. I think he’s picked up his defensive intensity, and that’s really helped us."
Wiggins will be asked to shadow Dončić again Friday night in Game 2 of the series. Tune in to NBC Sports Bay Area at 5 p.m. for a preview of the game on "Warriors Live: Playoff Edition."