In just a couple of years, the Golden State Warriors have gone from one of the worst records in the NBA to their fourth world championship in an eight-year span.
As always, the terrific trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green led the way, but unlike in the past, when the team was top-heavy, this time it got lots of help from a young supporting cast.
The most prominent member of that supporting cast is Andrew Wiggins, a man who has greatly evolved his game in a short amount of time.
When he arrived in Golden State during the 2019-20 season, many weren’t sure if he could fit in with its style of play or give it the type of production it needed from the small forward spot.
But he has done just that, and he feels Curry and Green have done a lot to help him become the player he is now.
“All those guys were very encouraging and motivating. Steph, Draymond, all them,” Wiggins said of Golden State’s veterans on The VC Show. “They all did a lot for me in a lot of different ways. One thing they all do is they all hold you accountable. When you do something wrong, they’re gonna get at you. But the thing that I love about them is that when you do it right, they’re gonna be the first people to come up to you and congratulate you. I feel like that goes a long way. They’ve taught me a lot on and off the court, so I cherish those guys.”
Wiggins Has Gone From One-Dimensional To Well-Rounded
During his first five seasons in the NBA, Wiggins, then a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, was considered to be a low-IQ gunner who was inefficient.
Although he averaged 19.4 points a game during that span, he shot a mediocre 44.0 percent from the field and an anemic 33.2 percent from 3-point range.
Wiggins also developed a reputation as someone who didn’t care that much about playing defense.
But since coming to the Warriors, he has become a greatly fortified version of his former self.
Last season, he shot 46.6 percent overall and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc, and his defensive performance has jumped leaps and bounds beyond what it was a few years ago.
Andrew Wiggins literally had the best season of his career in Golden State and played his role to perfection. 💪 pic.twitter.com/4BwSVh4s3O
— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) August 17, 2022
His defensive improvement become especially apparent during the NBA Finals when he helped harass Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum into a terrible series.
Tatum made just 36.7 percent of his shots in the series and shot over 43 percent in just one of six games.
"I didn't get one vote this year. I took it personal in the playoffs. I was like, 'This is my chance to really showcase what I can do. Put my name on the radar.'"
Andrew Wiggins on not receiving any All-Defensive votes last season 💯
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) August 17, 2022
On the offensive end, Wiggins also came through with 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Warriors’ Game 5 win that gave them a 3-2 series lead.
The Warriors Have A Big Decision To Make
Wiggins is under contract for one more year, and he will become a free agent next summer.
The Warriors want to keep him in the fold, but it may take a max contract to make that happen.
If Wiggins doesn’t get the type of contract he wants and leaves the team, it will be hard for it to make up for what he brings it.
Jonathan Kuminga has come along well and is going into his second season, but he may not become quite the outside shooter or defender Wiggins is.
The Warriors are already paying Curry, Thompson, and Green max-salary type of money, and four max contracts on the books may be too much in terms of luxury tax penalties.
But if majority owner Joe Lacob can afford such a bill, the Warriors’ dynasty may continue a bit longer than some expect it to.