Andrew Wiggins has always been full of potential, he just couldn’t realize it in Minnesota while playing for a Timberwolves team that ranged from awful to dysfunctional.
Now a Warrior, Wiggins will have a great opportunity to improve his game and become the player many expected him to be when he was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. When the Warriors acquired Wiggins in the D’Angelo Russell deal at the trade deadline, many saw Wiggins and his contract as trade bait to acquire another star to pair with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
But others saw Wiggins’ skill and potential, envisioning him as a centerpiece of the Warriors’ dynastic reboot. Bench coach Ron Adams certainly is among those who are thrilled to have Wiggins now call the Bay home.
“I really thought he did a good job for us,” Adams told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show” podcast. “People always look at scoring or shooting. I didn’t think he shot the ball very consistently from the perimeter. But good grief, he really showed himself to be a really, really outstanding all-around player. I was particularly pleased with his defense, especially on the ball. I just thought he did a really good job. And against the best players in the league, he really enjoys playing against them and actually picks his game up when he did play against those guys. I thought his floor game was good — his passing, his penetrating.”
“The sky’s the limit for this guy. … He walks onto the floor and he scores 20 points,” Adams continued. “There are areas that he can get a lot better in, there’s no question about that. I think he can rebound the ball better. He’s got a nice perimeter shot, but he’s got to groove it a little more, he’s got to get a little more consistency in his delivery and, in my estimation at least, using his lower body into the shot. When he does that, he seldom misses. But he’s been inconsistent on that.”
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In 12 games with the Warriors before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Wiggins averaged 19.4 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the floor and 33.9 percent from 3-point range. Wiggins showcased his talent and his inconsistency during the start of his Warriors tenure, but most believe his game will continue to improve once Curry and Thompson return next season. His passing and defense really stood out in his first 12 games and those skills should fit nicely alongside two of the best shooters in NBA history.
“I was elated to get him into our program,” Adams said. “I think he’s a star player. I think he’s gonna flourish with more shooting on the floor. But I was personally really happy with the all-around nature of his game and what he showed in that regard more so that his scoring, even.”
Wiggins appears to be a much fit for the Warriors’ system than Russell, whose ball-dominant offensive game and lackadaisical defensive nature clashed with the foundation of the Warriors’ success. Wiggins is a rangy defender who can guard anywhere from one to four. On the offensive end, he can facilitate or operate off the ball as will be the case once Curry returns. His outside shooting needs to improve, but his slashing ability and athleticism have reminded some of Harrison Barnes during his time with the Warriors.
Wiggins’ $31.5 million per year contract makes him a possible trade chip as Warriors fans continue to dream of bringing Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Bay. But dealing Wiggins won’t be the only move required to bring in Antetokounmpo and build a team around him and Curry. It likely would require the Warriors moving on from Thompson, an idea that isn’t appealing to most.
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The best way for the Warriors to reboot their dynasty quickly to maximize the remaining prime of Curry, Thompson and Green is to have Wiggins elevate his game and become a core piece of the next wave of the dynasty.
What Wiggins showcased in Minnesota isn’t the player he’s destined to be. His future still is bright, and the Warriors are the perfect team to maximize the untapped potential that the Timberwolves couldn’t bring to the surface.
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