Warriors

Why Wiggins is among Hollinger's NBA All-Surprise team

Warriors

When Andrew Wiggins first arrived to the Warriors last season after five-and-a-half underwhelming seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, many expected him to be nothing more than a short-term rental that eventually would turn into a piece of a larger trade package.

Instead, Wiggins has been an integral part of the Warriors' starting lineup in 2020-21, playing borderline elite defense and becoming a solid contributor on offense. The Athletic's John Hollinger agreed, and listed Wiggins among the players on his "NBA All-Surprise" team.

The former No. 1 overall pick never was lauded for his effort on the defensive end, but has become a strong all-around defender in the Warriors' scheme. He ranks 12th in the NBA in blocked shots per game (1.6), ahead of elite centers like Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond.

The Warriors have trusted Wiggins to defend elite players like Kevin Durant and Pascal Siakam, with positive results.

“He's more than capable as ‘Two-way Wiggs,” as we call him now, at just being able to make his presence felt,” Steph Curry said earlier this month. “I think he really cares about the defensive end, and being with us, he's able to kind of show it night after night. There's an expectation of it now. He's proven that he can definitely make an impact on that end of the floor, guarding the ball, off the ball or whatever.”

After never surpassing 35.6 percent shooting on 3-pointers in his career, Wiggins is connecting on 39.3 percent of his attempts from behind the arc this season.

 
RELATED: Warriors' fleecing of Wolves in Wiggins trade clearer every day

Offseason acquisition Kelly Oubre Jr. is off to a rocky start offensively, which has put more pressure on Wiggins, as the other starting wing, to produce night in and night out. Wiggins has answered every challenge coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors' staff have given, and is doing what he can to live up to lofty expectations for his defense before the season.

We haven't even surpassed the 20-game mark of the 2020-21 season, but the Warriors seem to be getting a pretty good return last season's trade trade of D'Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Timberwolves. Wiggins is thriving, and Golden State still has two draft picks on the way this year.

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