Warriors

Wanamaker, Wiggins earn Warriors midseason 'Uh-Oh' award

Warriors

Before the All-Star break, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that he would assess everything when it came to looking for ways for his team to improve in the second half of the season.

Naturally, we do the same.

There are a few good things to highlight from the Warriors at the midway point. Kelly Oubre Jr. has found his stride. Steph Curry is reminiscent of who he was when he was the unanimous MVP in 2015-16. Draymond Green's impact has never been more clear. 

But, as with every average NBA team, the problem areas garner more attention, for those are what need to be addressed for them to become above average.

On the latest Dubs Talk Podcast, Grant Liffman, Kerith Burke and I labeled these as the "Uh-Oh Awards." They are the parts of the Warriors game, or roster, that are causing other problems and need to be fixed in the second half of the season. 

The first candidate for the Uh-Oh Award is Andrew Wiggins. At face value, this might not make sense. Yes, Wiggins has scored in double-digit figures in all but one game so far this season. That is true, and good for the Warriors. But, in some of those games, it was the quietest and underwhelming double-digit scoring performances. In the final few weeks leading up to the All-Star break, more concerning than Wiggins' production was that his efficiency began to slip

 

When you put up the same amount of points, but it takes twice as many shots to do it, that's not a good sign.

Because Klay Thompson is out for the season, the Warriors need someone else to step up as the No. 2 scorer behind Curry -- and it ought to be Wiggins. The first month and a half of the season is the Wiggins the Warriors need.

He hunted his shot, was aggressive in the paint and affected the game in other ways besides scoring. Throughout February, we stopped seeing that.

To be clear, Wiggins was just a candidate for the Uh-Oh Award. There's room for him to improve, but he wasn't the worst.

The biggest uh-oh for the Warriors was their bench unit, and the biggest uh-oh on the bench was Brad Wanamaker. 

Kerr made it clear that some of the struggles the bench is facing come from not having a consistent lineup and playing with different combinations as they search for a successful group. If that's the case, Kerr and the Warriors need to start swapping some players out of the rotation, and it should start with Wanamaker. 

The Warriors need the Wanamaker who was in Boston for the last two years to show up. When he was a Celtic, Wanamaker was a reliable backup point guard who averaged 6.9 points on 44.8 percent shooting, including 44.8 percent from three. He gave Boston a little burst of energy and helped them hold whatever advantage they had while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum rested.

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When the Warriors acquired Wanamaker in the offseason, that's the player they had in mind. They didn't need him to do anything flashy. Just keep them in the game while Steph Curry sat. They especially liked his 3-point shooting percentage, and thought he'd give the bench unit a scoring boost. 

But so far, he hasn't. He's averaging 4.8 points on 35.8 percent shooting, and a career-low 23.2 percent from three. Wanamaker's minutes are limited as is. So, when he comes in, he has a finite amount of time to find a rhythm and make an impact on the game. That's the life of a backup point guard. But, when those short minutes are riddled with turnovers and missed shots, it's hard to bank on him to keep the team afloat.

Now, Kerr did admit that he and the Warriors are putting a lot of Wanamaker's shoulders because they are asking him to play a role he's not used to. In Boston, he'd set plays up but wasn't relied on as a consistent scorer. With the Warriors, they need him to do that. 

Of course, there is a learning curve for new players and players who are asked to take on new roles, but 37 games into the season and the second half starting on Thursday, Wanamaker is still struggling to figure it out, and the time for him to learn and get comfortable with it is running out. 

 

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