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When Kawhi Leonard returns, Wiggins Island will be waiting for him

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Andrew Wiggins’ individual defensive prowess was on full display last season, forcing Kawhi into 38% shooting and 7 turnovers when they matched up over three games.

Golden State Warriors v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the talking points shrewdly optimistic Golden State Warriors fans discuss about their team’s prospects this season is the devastating injury woes their conference rivals have to overcome. You know, the exact same thing those same rivals were counting on working against the Dubs while the Warriors have been getting pimp slapped by the injury bug ever since the 2019 Finals.

Two injury concerns of note:

  • Jamal Murray, the Denver Nuggets star guard, unfortunately tore his ACL last season against the Dubs. From our blog buddy at the Denver Stiffs, here’s the timeline on his hopefully strong return:

“Murray suffered his torn ACL on April 12 and the recovery time for that type of knee injury is usually around 7-9 months. From a Nuggets perspective there is no need to rush Murray back considering they still have league MVP Nikola Jokic leading the charge to get them through most of the regular season.”

Murray is almost four months out from when he suffered the injury so best case scenario he could maybe return in January? That still could be rushing it though and Denver might not even need him then if they are playing well, so a March return post all-star break could be what is best for Murray and the Nuggets as a whole.

In Kawhi’s case it will be a little less than a year, which is very doable,” said Alan Beyer, the executive medical director at Orange County’s Hoag Orthopedic Institute, where he is also an orthopedic surgeon. “No two players are alike, so some would take seven or eight months to come back. With the caliber of these players, I would not rush. But I certainly would give him the full nine to 10 months at least before I’d expect to see him back.

Based on that postsurgery timetable, “it’s not unreasonable” to think that an NBA player such as Leonard, with access to top-of-the-line care, could return and play next season, the NBA athletic trainer said.

That’s two potential title contenders who are going to try and navigate through the hellish gauntlet of the NBA’s regular season with major injury issues. Warriors fans witnessed firsthand how difficult a task that is, missing the playoffs the last two seasons with a lost Stephen Curry season and two evaporated Klay Thompson years.

We haven’t seen Klay hooping in a game since those aforementioned ‘19 Finals, when he and Curry were going shot for shot with the cyborg Leonard and the Toronto Raptors. Here’s their stats from that heavyweight bout:

  • Steph: 30.5 PPG, 5.2 REB, 6.0 AST, 41% FG%, 34% 3P%
  • Kawhi: 28.5 PPG, 9.8 REB, 4.2 AST, 43% FG%, 35% 3P%
  • Klay: 26.0 PPG, 4.8 REB, 2.4 AST, 54% FG%, 58% 3P%

Lmao Klay really had an eFG% of .682 in the NBA Finals against a top-tier defense WOWZERS.

Okay now that I’m down the rabbit hole of remembering the emotional trauma that was the dynasty collapsing on Kevin Durant’s Achilles and Klay’s knee, it’s amazing to rewatch Kawhi cook the Warriors with his unique combo of strength, fundamentals, and shooting touch.

The San Antonio Spurs trained him well. I mean, that Raptors championship run wasn’t the first time Kawhi had gone completely berserk on the Warriors in a playoff game. I’m talking about when the days when Zaza Pachulia was a Warrior and almost caught a manslaughter charge in San Antonio.

Anywhoozle, when Kawhi comes back from his most recent injury setback, there’s a pretty strong chance that he and his Clippers will once again stand in the way of the Warriors championship aspirations. Thankfully, the Dubs may have a weapon on defense to keep “The Klaw” from shredding Golden State.

WELCOME TO WIGGINS ISLAND!

If you ever want to make my GSOM teammate Brady Klopfer start crying with rage, just start complimenting Andrew Wiggins. “Maple Jordan”, the wiry 6-foot-7 former Minnesota Timberwolf once referred to as the NBA’s LEAST DEFENSIVE PLAYER , is now known as something of a defensive stalwart. His motor and smarts were a major reason the Warriors were ranked as a top-5 defense last year, and with a 7-foot wingspan he has the length to harass star wings.

Don’t believe me? Wellp, according to NBA.com’s tracking data no player attempted more shots on Wiggins in 2021 than Mr. Kawhi Leonard and it was tough sledding for the 2019 Finals MVP.

Wiggins limited Leonard to 10-of-26 shooting (38%!) with 7 assists and 7 turnovers in 17 minutes of matchup time over three games. The team over at Dub Nation HQ curated all the clips they could find to study this clash of the titans, and I highly recommend it for any Wiggins Truthers or Haters.

Maybe this will get Brady to stop comparing 2-Way Wiggs to Kent Bazemore smh.

Poll

Do you believe in the lockdown power of Wiggins Island?

  • 88%
    Yes, I want to buy beachfront property there and gleefully watch him imprison his foes
    (446 votes)
  • 11%
    Are you kidding me?! ANDREW WIGGINS ISN’T ANYTHING SPECIAL AND WE SHOULD TRADE HIM AND 3 LOTTERY PICKS FOR BEN SIMMONS
    (59 votes)
505 votes total Vote Now