Warriors

Why Dubs need Wiggins to be more than just Mr. Consistent

Warriors
Andrew Wiggins celebrates with Draymond Green, Jordan Poole

For eight years, Klay Thompson was the Warriors' ironman. Thompson never missed more than nine games in a season (2017-18), so Golden State could count on him practically every night to make contributions on both ends of the court.

They lost that when Thompson tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, and again when he tore his Achilles hours before the 2020 NBA Draft. And while nothing will replace what Thompson brings to the court, the Warriors at least have found a new ironman. 

Andrew Wiggins. 

Wiggins hasn't missed a single game this season, despite being listed as questionable on injury reports a few times. And that has been great news for Golden State. Wiggins has been the spitting image of stability and consistency when everything else for the team has been up and down. 

"It's so valuable to have someone you know can you can count on every single night to play big minutes and to guard one of the opposing team's best players," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in a video conference ahead of Tuesday's 122-116 win over the Phoenix Suns. "Klay has been that guy for many years, and now Andrew, the same thing."

Wiggins' consistency has extended to what he does on the court, too. This season has been one massive campaign against the notion that Wiggins is inefficient and unreliable.

He's averaging 18.6 points per game while shooting a career-best 47.1 percent from the field, including (another) career-best 37.7 percent on 3-pointers. But perhaps even more impressive, and more importantly, Wiggins has only scored in single digits two times this entire season. 

 

Wiggins took over Tuesday, finishing the night with 38 points. Wiggins went 17-for-24 on shooting and did it with every tool in his arsenal. He knocked down two triples and did the rest through his mid-range jumper and battling his way to the rim.

The 25-year-old scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 110 apiece with a clutch 3 with just under three minutes remaining.

"I came out trying to be aggressive," Wiggins said. "I feel like that's what everyone wants me to do and that's what I'm trying to do on both sides of the floor."

With no Kelly Oubre Jr. to lighten the scoring load, Wiggins has proved that he can be the go-to option when Steph Curry is on the bench or struggling to overcome whatever defensive schemes the Warriors' opponents throw his way. 

Being that guy -- the primary scorer on the floor -- is something people said Wiggins couldn't do, or at least, wasn't doing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 2014 No. 1 pick was blamed for a lot of their problems. 

Even though he's a leader when the second unit is on the floor and looked at as Golden State's secondary scorer, his role with the Warriors has allowed him to thrive. 

"He's answering the bell, defensively, offensively," Draymond Green said. "[Tuesday] he was incredible. You can see it from the beginning. He was attacking, he was getting offensive rebounds, hitting jump shots, getting into the post. He scored every way you possibly can. He's continued to grow. It's been great to watch his growth. A guy who a lot of people had written off in his career and just said, 'Oh he'll get his 20 points, and that's it.' He's really stepped up to the challenge."

Green has been in Wiggins' ear constantly about attacking and being aggressive. Just last week, Green told Wiggins to go out and "dominate" the Pelicans when the team was in New Orleans. 

It's something the team believes he can do, despite the reputation he had when he first arrived in Golden State. And evidently, he can.

"The dude can go," Kent Bazemore said.

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The Warriors need this version of Wiggins as they close out the final two games of the regular season and prepare for the play-in tournament and, possibly, the playoffs.

Not just Mr. Consistent, but the assertive Wiggins.

They need their ironman to hunt for his shot and then turn around and lock guys down on defense. They need him to be the guy who can flip the switch from a secondary -- or even tertiary -- scorer to the primary man on the floor when Curry is having an off night. 

They need him to be another reason why teams fear the Warriors in the playoffs. 

 

If they get that version of Wiggins, this team might surprise people in the postseason.

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