When the Golden State Warriors traded D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 top-three-protected pick and second-round selection, some were left wondering why Bob Myers would make such a move.
Wiggins — who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft — had underwhelmed during his 5.5 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He averaged 19.7 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 33.2 percent from beyond the arc over his 442 games with Minnesota. The Timberwolves only qualified for the postseason once during Wiggins’ tenure with the team, and the organization decided it was time to move on.
When Wiggins first arrived in the Bay Area, the Dubs were among the bottom-feeders of the NBA. Without the injured Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State was far from the team that had made five straight NBA Finals.
Wiggins only played in 12 games with the Warriors before the league shut down due to the pandemic. He averaged 19.4 points and 4.9 rebounds and shot 33.9 percent from deep.
The expectations were different going into the 2020-21 season. The Warriors were supposed to have Klay Thompson back, but that changed when the All-Star suffered an Achilles injury in November.
By default, Wiggins would become one of the primary scoring options without Thompson in the lineup. Curry is the obvious focal point of the Dubs’ offense, but he needed a few guys to step up behind him.
Wiggins’ contribution on the offensive end began to increase as the season wore on. He averaged 18.6 points and shot a career-high 38 percent from the 3-point line. He showed aggressiveness and attacked the rim more often rather than settling for jump shots.
His detractors will point out that his production doesn’t reflect the more than $65 million he will earn over the next seasons. But that’s not on Wiggins. Minnesota offered him those terms, and he would have been foolish not to accept them.
Wiggins also grew defensively. He routinely guarded the opponents’ best player and showed he can be one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. He was tied for the team-lead in defensive win shares last season. But more importantly, Wiggins’ presence on the roster will take some pressure off Thompson next year.
Thompson was one of the better perimeter defenders in the league prior to missing two consecutive seasons with serious injuries. When he returns, Wiggins can take care of the toughest defensive assignment while allowing Thompson time to try and regain his pre-injury form.
Once Thompson returns to the lineup, it will push Wiggins into a position he is better suited to be in as a third-or-fourth scoring option. With opposing defenses focused on slowing down the Splash Brothers, Wiggins will be able to open himself more for backdoor lay-ups and allow the game to come to him.
There have been rumors that Wiggins could be included in a trade this offseason to try and bring in another superstar to join Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green in pursuit of another championship. But if the Warriors keep Wiggins, they will have a valuable chip who has shown he can fit in with the team.
What are your expectations for Wiggins if he still around next season? Do you think he did enough this season to show that he can be a part of the future?