When the Golden State Warriors traded for former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, some NBA Insiders were left scratching their heads. General manager Bob Myers sent D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, and Omari Spellman to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Wiggins and a 2021 top-three protected pick.
Russell wasn’t going to be a long-term fit with the Dubs. His limited defensive abilities and ball-dominant style don’t mesh well with the Warriors core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Russell was acquired to provide the Warriors some flexibility once Kevin Durant confirmed he was signing with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.
Myers has options with Wiggins. The 25-year-old is owed just over $95 million over the next three years but can be used in a trade to acquire another superstar due to his exuberant cap hit. Wiggins averaged 19.4 points and 4.6 rebounds over 12 games with Golden State before the NBA shutting down due to the pandemic. The Warriors were 3.5 points better per 100 possessions with Wiggins on the court during his short time with the team.
Hall of Famer and Warriors legend Rick Barry joined NBC’s “Runnin’ Plays” podcast and was asked what the Dubs need to figure with Wiggins’ fit:
“Are they happy with the way he fits in with the guys that they have right now? Is this part of what the nucleus of the team is going to be? And then again, if they have opportunities to get somebody else, he may be another player that could possibly be traded in order to bring in what you feel you need. They have to sit down, and they have to determine — where are our weaknesses?”
Wiggins has the athleticism to be a difference-maker on the defensive end. Working with a better coaching staff should help him improve his game, but the most significant benefit for him comes on the offensive end.
Wiggins took more than 20% of Minnesota’s field goal attempts over the last four seasons (per NBA.com), something that won’t happen with Golden State. He will be the team’s third-or-fourth option on offense and will benefit from the ball movement heavy system of head coach Steve Kerr. He finished with an eFG% higher than 50 for the first time in his career last season.
The Dubs could use Wiggins similar to the role they played Harrison Barnes, who averaged 10.9 points per game when the Warriors made back-to-back NBA Finals in 2015 and 2016. Barnes’ usage rate averaged out to 15.4% over those two seasons, which is where Wiggins should be next season.
A career 33.2% 3-point shooter, Wiggins will need to improve his outside shooting to optimize his fit with the Dubs. The good news is that he has hit 40.2% of his corner 3s over his career, which is essential when Curry and Thompson are on the court.
What do you think Wiggins needs to bring to the Warriors next season to be a good fit?
On to some links:
Golden State will be in the market for a big man in the offseason. NBC Bay Area’s Drew Shiller says Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers could be the ideal fit.
Green’s on-court abilities may begin to diminish over the next few years, but his ability to talk basketball won’t. TNT will bring Draymond onto Inside the NBA to fill in for Hall of Famer Charles Barkley on Friday. (SI’s Sam Amico)