SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors, ever optimistic, are hoping Andrew Wiggins will very soon enlist in the NBA’s 90-percent club, joining the vast majority of players, including longtime holdout LeBron James, to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.
With Golden State’s home opener 22 days out, Wiggins – and fellow holdouts, like Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving – is getting social-media pressure from fans, some of whom say they work in the field of medicine.
Wiggins is expected to be on the court Wednesday for the first scrimmage of training camp. Maybe he eventually will capitulate, though he will need to act fast to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 21, when the Clippers come to town.
What if the 26-year-old small forward sticks to his beliefs and is disallowed from entering Chase Center? It’s a question the Warriors don’t want to confront. Not yet.
“There’s no sense in speculating right now,” coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. “In an NBA season, what I’ve learned is that a million things happen. You just adapt on the fly. If you try to get ready for every contingency, you’d be running around in circles.
“Andrew is practicing and he looks great. He’s in good spirits. His teammates love him, his coaches love him. We’re happy that he’s in the building and we’re all just working and getting ready for the season. We’ll adapt accordingly.”
If Wiggins maintains his stance against taking the vaccine and is forced to miss games at Chase Center, the Warriors have three replacement options of varying viability at small forward.
Here’s an alphabetical look at each.
The last time he was a full-time starter for any team was in 2013-14, his first year with Golden State. Mark Jackson was the coach. The power forward was David Lee. Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal were splitting time at center. It was a different era. Iguodala, however, knows the system inside out. He’d know his role and how to fill it. He conceivably could open games, play the first six or seven minutes and then give way to a reserve.
Likelihood: 10 percent.
Would Steve dare to start a teenager? He did last season with James Wiseman, whose college experience was roughly 10 percent of that on Moody’s resumé. Ideally, the small forward would fit the 3-and-D profile, shooting 38 percent from deep while also being a force on the defensive end. Moody certainly has the potential to be that, but starting a rookie for the second consecutive season would be, um, uncomfortable.
Likelihood: 20 percent.
The Warriors signed the lanky wing with the hope that he can stay healthy and deliver productive minutes for 20-25 minutes per night. Maybe more. Well, he’s a 28-year-old veteran with more than 300 NBA starts. He’s a solid defender and a career 40.2-percent shooter from distance. Early reports on Porter have been positive and he admits it has been a few years since he felt this good physically.
Likelihood: 70 percent.
The Warriors have done their part to cajole Wiggins into getting vaccinated. Maybe he will. But he showed no inclination on Monday. If he can’t go, Porter is the logical home-game starting small forward.
“Coming here and listening to everybody, they are excited for me,” Porter said Monday. “They are excited for me to come back from little injuries that I had over the couple years and they are excited for me just to get back out there and show what I can do.”