We knew that the Golden State Warriors would be getting a new starting five on Thursday for their showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers on NBA TV. We knew that because Draymond Green has been suspended indefinitely, and so he’ll need to be replaced.
The logical guess was that third-year forward Jonathan Kuminga, who has been playing exceptionally lately, would take Green’s place. That proved to be true. But what we didn’t know is that there would be another change in the starting lineup, too.
Just over half an hour before Thursday’s game, it was reported that Steve Kerr was moving veteran wing Andrew Wiggins to the bench, and replacing him with rookie guard Brandin Podziemski, creating a new starting five of Podziemski, Kuminga, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevon Looney.
Golden State is making a change: Andrew Wiggins to the bench; Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Brandin Podziemski, Jonathan Kuminga and Kevon Looney start tonight vs. Clippers, sources tell me and @anthonyVslater.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 15, 2023
Whether or not Wiggins would be benched at some point has been a hot topic around the Dubs. He’s inarguably been one of their worst players this year, but you can understand the desire to stick with him in hopes that things will course correct. After all, he was an All-Star just two seasons ago and, in most people’s eyes, the team’s second-best player in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Wiggins has seen his minutes decrease steadily throughout the year, culminating in just 15 minutes on Tuesday — which featured being excluded from the starting lineup when the second half began.
In a move that no one saw coming when the year began, Podziemski (and Kuminga, for that matter) has clearly been better than Wiggins this year. The eye test suggests that, and so do the stats (per 36 minutes, Wiggins is averaging 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, while Podziemski is averaging 14.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists).
Perhaps more importantly, Wiggins has been struggling with the things that have been sinking the Dubs, while Podziemski has been keeping them afloat in those categories. Wiggins is shooting just 27.9% on threes, while Podziemski is shooting 44.2%. Wiggins is struggling to rebound for his position, while Podziemski, despite being a guard, trails only Looney and Dario Šarić in rebounding percentage. Wiggins has been energyless on defense, while Podziemski has been a nuisance. Wiggins has just 24 assists all year, compared to 42 turnovers, while Podziemski has 41 assists against just 19 turnovers.
Here’s hoping the move works, both for improving the starting lineup (which has struggled all year), and getting Wiggins back on track.