Warriors

Why Steve Kerr believes Andrew Wiggins will be 'great' for Warriors

Why Steve Kerr believes Andrew Wiggins will be 'great' for Warriors

From a roster standpoint, it always made more sense. A Warriors team with Andrew Wiggins -- instead of D'Angelo Russell -- to pair with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green completed the puzzle in a more constructive manner. 

Russell looked good and could shine bright, but he didn't exactly gel with this jigsaw. 

Warriors coach Steve Kerr reiterated what a difference Wiggins makes for the Warriors compared to Russell. He knows Russell's talent on offense, that's undeniable. What Wiggins can do, though, fits the coach's philosophy much better. 

“It’s much easier (with Wiggins) to picture a defense forming -- a versatile, switchable defense -- which has been the name of the game for us over the years,” Kerr said to The Athletic's David Aldridge on the "Hoops, Adjacent" podcast. “It makes much more sense from a roster standpoint, positional standpoint.

"And now it’s on us to put it all together. And I think Andrew’s going to be great."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Wiggins, 25, is 6-foot-7 and swings right into the Warriors' starting small forward role. When he came into the NBA as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, many thought the athletic wing would be a defensive star. That hasn't been the case, though. 

But when he joined the Warriors in a trade that sent Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, his steals and blocks both went up as Kerr constantly had good things to say about his effort. The coach doesn't want Wiggins to be a star. He wants him to play strong defense, use his athleticism as a slasher and nail 3-pointers.

It certainly helps that Wiggins will play with a healthy trio of Curry, Thompson and Green next season. He only shared the court once last season with Curry, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 121-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Thompson and Green both were out with injuries, but Kerr believes Wiggins will work right away with the trio. 

[RELATED: Klay 'draining shots from all over' in rehab, Kerr says]

"I think he’ll fit in really well with Steph and Klay and Draymond," Kerr said. "We’re really excited about our possibilities with the roster next year.”

Wiggins went from 22.4 points per game in Minnesota last season to 19.4 after joining the Warriors. But in Golden State, his 3-point percentage and effective field goal percentage improved, as well as his defensive rating. Kerr has to be happy about that.

The Warriors have a former No. 1 pick in the building who should be pressure-free as the Splash Brothers take the lead on offense. Now, he just has to fit and not try to do too much. His coach believes that won't be a problem at all.

Warriors' Steph Curry jokes about waking up in NBA's Orlando bubble

Warriors' Steph Curry jokes about waking up in NBA's Orlando bubble

Steph Curry is jonesin' to play basketball.

The Warriors superstar misses the game so much that when he woke up on a recent morning, he thought he was in the NBA's Orlando bubble.

OK, maybe not. Clearly, Steph needs to work on his acting skills. But the sentiment isn't too far off.

After five straight trips to the NBA Finals that saw Curry play roughly an extra 20 games a season, the two-time NBA MVP broke his hand in the fourth game of the 2019-20 season. He returned to play in one game in March, but a combination of Curry catching the flu and the coronavirus shutdown ended his season early.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

So between the end of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 and the potential start of the 2020-21 NBA season in December, Curry will have played five regular-season games in a year and a half.

So you can understand why Curry is dreaming of being in Orlando.

Alas, the Warriors finished the 2019-20 season with the worst record (15-50) in the NBA. They were one of eight NBA teams not invited to the NBA season restart at the Disney World complex in Orlando. The combination of Curry's injury, Klay Thompson's ACL injury and Kevin Durant's departure crushed the Warriors' hopes of a sixth straight NBA Finals appearance.

The bright side (of the bed) for Curry is that his body has been given an extended break, the longest of his professional career. After five long seasons, a long 18-month break could do Curry a lot of good.

[RELATED: Simmons wonders if Lillard is better than Steph]

The Warriors are expecting Curry and Thompson to come back healthy and rested when the 2020-21 season starts, ready for a return to NBA title contention.

Based on the video Curry posted, he's getting plenty of rest.

Bill Simmons wonders whether Damian Lillard is better than Steph Curry

Bill Simmons wonders whether Damian Lillard is better than Steph Curry

Steph Curry is a better basketball player than Damian Lillard.

We don't make that declaration in an attempt to slight Dame, because the Portland Trail Blazers star is awesome. We certainly aren't rooting against the Oakland native or saying he is overrated.

But we feel compelled to defend Steph when necessary. And we are doing that now because of the following back-and-forth that took place Monday on "The Bill Simmons Podcast."

Simmons: "Dame -- I don't know where he is on the top-10 players in the league list and what the qualifications are -- but is Curry better than him at this point?"

Ryen Russillo: "Oh come on. Let's take it easy. Don't do this when Curry's missed a year."

Simmons: "I'm not talking about career. I'm not talking playoff chops (or) stuff like that. I'm just talking game-to-game, the stuff Dame is doing now consistently, reminds me of Curry. I feel like he's money. He's in the top eight or nine for me now. And I don't know what the list is. But I just think he's great."

Lillard is great. No doubt about it. And the 30-year-old was fantastic in Portland's first two games in the Orlando bubble.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But we need to remind everybody -- again -- what happened during the Warriors' sweep of the Blazers in the 2019 Western Conference finals:

Curry: 36.5 points, 7.3 assists, 46.9 percent overall, 42.6 percent 3s
Lillard: 22.3 points, 8.5 assists, 37.1 percent overall, 36.8 percent 3s

Yes, Lillard is putting up big statistics this season with 28.9 points and 8.0 assists per game. But his shooting numbers -- 45.6 percent overall and 39.1 percent from 3-point range -- don't match up to what Steph did last season: 47.2 percent overall and 43.7 percent from beyond the arc.

[RELATED: The disrespect Steph gets absolutely blows Redick's mind]

The day possibly will come when Dame is considered the superior player by the majority of the basketball world. We aren't that naive.

But it definitely has not arrived yet.

So the answer to Simmons's question is ...

... "yes."

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