When Andrew Wiggins returned from a two-month absence on Saturday for Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors first-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings, it was unclear how he would look, or how big of a role he would play.
The answer to both questions was promising. Wiggins looked like himself during the team’s thrilling loss, and played 28 minutes without looking winded.
And so, with the team’s back firmly against the wall headed back to Sacramento for another game, the Warriors are making the move: Wiggins is returning to the starting lineup.
Warriors are placing forward Andrew Wiggins back into the starting lineup tonight for Game 2 vs. Kings, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 18, 2023
Wiggins’ return to the starting five means the return of the best five-man unit in the NBA. In the 331 minutes that Wiggins, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney have shared the court, the Warriors have outscored opponents by 21.9 points per 100 possessions. For context, their offensive rating of 128.0 is miles ahead of the Kings league-best mark of 118.6, while their defensive rating of 106.1 is way ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers league-leading 109.9.
And for further context, the next-closest five-man lineup that has played at least 200 minutes is the Cavs quintet of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, who have outscored opponents by 15.1 points per 100 possessions. The highest net rating for a five-man unit that has played as many minutes as the Warriors starting five is the Denver Nuggets, who had a rating of +13.1 for Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokić.
Welcome back to the lineup, Wiggins. Raise hell.