Why Russillo isn't full Wiggins believer despite hot start

Andrew Wiggins Warriors blue

The Warriors were awful in their first two games this season, and Andrew Wiggins struggled mightily as well.

But the 25-year-old forward has been fantastic the last nine games.

Wiggins is averaging 19.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 blocks over that span, while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from beyond the arc.

He racked up a career-high five blocks against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

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Wiggins' improved play has caught the attention of The Ringer's Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo, who had an extended conversation about Wiggins earlier this week on "The Bill Simmons Podcast."

Russillo: "Wiggins looks like a different guy, both offensively and defensively."

Simmons: "Which was the bet, right? They [the Warriors] bet, 'We're gonna bring Wiggins in, we'll put him in our culture and maybe we can eek this out of him because he's clearly talented.' "

Russillo: "Yeah. The better part of it too was like, 'Hey, he might be a fourth option [before Klay Thompson got hurt].' "

Simmons: "The Wiggins thing is a fascinating wrinkle ... whatever happened to him [with the Minnesota Timberwolves] and how much damage there was from being in a weird organization ... I would rather have Wiggins than [D'Angelo] Russell for this specific team that they have. Wiggins just makes more sense for them. So the fact that they got a top pick out of it, too -- that trade is a no-brainer."


Russillo: "There are still moments with Wiggins where you're completely underwhelmed. At the beginning of the year I'm like, 'Why would anybody ever hold out hope for him?' And yet now, he's put together a couple weeks. But I'm still not ready to completely sign off on it."

Simmons: "He's not terrible is my point. He's not a f--king liability. He's still someone who can play basketball and fill a stat sheet. The thing that bothered us is that we saw the potential and he wasn't tapping into it. Those are the guys that we always hold accountable the most ... I do think Wiggins is pretty salvageable."

Russillo: "I think maybe we turned this podcast into a little pro-Wiggins at the end. I don't know that I wanted to co-sign on everything you were saying there at the end about Wiggins (laughter)."

Simmons: "Wiggins isn't bad at basketball is my only point."

RELATED: Wiggins describes what Warriors will be when Klay returns

It's fair for Russillo to want to see Wiggins make significant contributions over a longer stretch before fully believing in the turnaround.

The Warriors need him to be consistent in order to reach their potential, and really need him to elevate his game against the league's better teams.

So far, there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

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