Warriors

Two-Way Wiggs doesn't get much love in All-Defense voting

Warriors
Andrew Wiggins defending Kawhi

Draymond Green is the Warriors' defensive anchor. But during the 2020-21 NBA season, he had a very capable sidekick.

Andrew Wiggins, who has never been known for his defense since coming into the NBA in 2014, turned up the intensity and gave the Warriors another weapon on that side of the ball in his first full season in San Francisco.

Despite what the Warriors and Dub Nation saw from Wiggins, it didn't result in any love in the NBA's All-Defensive team voting as the former No. 1 overall draft pick received just one second-team vote among forwards in results announced Monday.

Wiggins had by far the best defensive season of his seven-year NBA career, posting a 2.7 Defensive Win Shares, according to Basketball Reference. His next closest season was 1.6 in 2017-18 with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wiggins' Defensive Rating of 111 also was the best of his career, beating the 113 Defensive Rating he achieved in three other seasons.

If it looked like Wiggins was blocking at least one shot a game this season, that's because he did, blocking 70 shots in 71 regular season contests. His uptick in blocked shots carried over from the end of the 2019-20 season when he averaged 1.4 blocks in 12 games after being traded to the Warriors from the Timberwolves.

While Wiggins' defensive improvement surprised Warriors fans, coach Steve Kerr wasn't shocked by what he saw this season.

"I don't think he exceeded our expectations because we saw what he could do the last [12] games of last season when we traded for him and he played really solid defense," Steve Kerr said in late May on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show. "And so when we went into the offseason, that was our whole focus and that's all we talked to him about.

 

"'You're gonna guard LeBron [James], you're gonna guard Kawhi [Leonard], you're gonna guard Luka [Doncic]. We don't have other guys on the roster who can do that so that's your job. Here's what you need to do to do that and we're gonna stay on you.' That plan was executed. Andrew embraced it and really did a good job with it. Not many other guys could have done [it].

"But it was great to see him do it so consistently over the course of the year."

Though Wiggins showed he's more than capable of being a very good defender, it always was going to be tough for him to crack the seal on the All-Defensive Second Team, which was comprised of Miami's Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle and Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard. All five come with reputations as elite defensive players.

RELATED: Wiggins showed he can be a long-term fit with Warriors

Wiggins, who still is just 26 years old, isn't there yet, but if he keeps improving on the defensive side of the ball, he might just able to make an All-Defensive team in the next few seasons.

As for Green, he was named to the All-Defensive First Team along with Utah's Rudy Gobert, Philadelphia's Ben Simmons and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.

With Green as his teacher and Klay Thompson returning next season, Wiggins has nowhere to go but up on the defensive side of the ball. If James Wiseman can develop into a game-changer on defense, the Warriors could be tough to score against for the next few years.