When the accountants from Ernst & Young delivered a locked briefcase to the Inside The NBA set tonight, it was pretty likely that the sealed envelopes containing the NBA All-Star starters would contain the name Steph Curry. But after Ernie Johnson announced team captain LeBron James and center Nikola Jokic, the next name was a surprise: Andrew Wiggins.
Yes, in his eighth season, Andrew Wiggins made his first All-Star Game. He stayed ahead of Southern California rivals Paul George and Anthony Davis in the fan vote, and now he’ll be heading to Cleveland. Wiggins is averaging 18.1 points per game in what’s easily the best year of his career, a huge part of the success of the 35-13 Golden State Warriors. He’s an excellent two-way player, and the advanced stats love his defense. It also helps that Bob Fitzgerald pushed his All-Star case for two solid months, talking about Wiggins as a potential All-Star almost as much as he complained about opposing teams making a flukey amount of three-pointers, and even more often than he called Curry “the two-time MVP”.
It’s been a tremendous two years in San Francisco for Wiggins, who was widely regarded as a bust after being selected first in the 2014 NBA Draft. That was never a fair label - look at what happened to the guy picked No. 1 a year earlier, Anthony Bennett. But Wiggins was held in such low regard - and with years left on his max contract - Minnesota included a first-round pick in the deal, which turned into rookie phenom Jonathan Kuminga. He’s legitimately improved by leaps and bounds for Golden State, especially on the defensive end, where he’s turned into a legitimate stopper. And after improving his three-point shooting to 38% in the 2020-21 season, he proved it wasn’t a fluke, he upped it to 40.4%. Overall, it’s his best shooting year ever, coupled with the lowest turnover rate of his career.
It won’t be Wiggins’ first appearance at All-Star Weekend, as he played in the Rising Stars Game in 2015 and 2016, winning the MVP his rookie year. Meanwhile, this will be Curry’s eighth All-Star start, a Warriors team record (sorry, Rick Barry!). Only Paul Arizin has more All-Star appearances for the Warriors than Curry (10). Curry’s been to nine All-Star Weekends in total, starting the game from 2014-19 and in 2021, winning two Three-Point Contests and taking home the prestigious Skills Challenge trophy in 2011.
This year Curry is averaging 25.8 points per game, and oh by the way, also broke the all-time record for made threes. Hey look what I found - an All-Star selection! They must have cast some of those votes from Fremont!
Rounding out the Western Conference starters are James, Jokic, and Memphis Grizzlies sensation Ja Morant. On the Eastern Conference side, it’s our old friend Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets who was the top vote-getter and as such, team captain. He’ll be joined in the front court by Joel Embiid (76ers) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), and the back court starters are DeMar DeRozan (Bulls) and Trae Young (Hawks).
Wiggins becomes the first Canadian-born player to ever start an All-Star Game (Steve Nash started for the first time in 2006, but he was born in South Africa), and only the third Canadian All-Star ever - shout out to Jamaal Magloire!
The All-Star Game will take place Sunday, February 20 in Cleveland. Just Wiggins’ luck - his first time making it to the game, and he gets a free trip to Cleveland. It should be a great game, and there’s only like a 1% chance that river catches on fire again.