They lost that when Thompson tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, and again when he tore up his Achilles hours before the 2020 NBA Draft. And while nothing will replace what Thompson brings to the court, the Warriors have at least found a new ironman.
Wiggins hasn’t missed a game this season, although he’s been listed as questionable on injury reports on several occasions. And that has been great news for Golden State. Wiggins has been the spitting image of stability and consistency when everything else for the team has been top to bottom.
“It’s so precious to have someone you know who you can count on every night to play great minutes and to keep one of the best players on the opposing team,” Warriors coach said , Steve Kerr, on a video conference ahead of Tuesday’s 122-116 win. the Phoenix Suns. “Klay has been that guy for many years, and now Andrew is the same. “
Wiggins’ consistency has extended to what he does on the pitch as well. This season has been a massive campaign against the idea that Wiggins is ineffective and unreliable.
He averages 18.6 points per game while shooting a career-best 47.1% from the field, including (another) career-best 37.7% out of 3 points. But perhaps even more impressive, and more importantly, Wiggins has only scored in single digits twice this season.
Wiggins took over on Tuesday, ending the night with 38 points. Wiggins went 17 for 24 in shooting and did so with every tool in his arsenal. He knocked down two triples and did the rest thanks to his midrange jumper and his way to the rim.
The 25-year-old scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 110 apiece with a 3 clutch with just under three minutes to go.
“I came out trying to be aggressive,” Wiggins said. “I feel like that’s what everyone wants me to do and that’s what I’m trying to do on both sides of the floor. “
Without Kelly Oubre Jr. to lighten the goal load, Wiggins has proven he can be the option of choice when Steph Curry is on the bench or struggling to overcome defensive ploys thrown by opponents from the Warriors.
Being that guy – the first scorer on the field – is something people have said Wiggins can’t do, or at least doesn’t do for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The No.1 pick of 2014 was blamed for many of their problems.
Even though he’s a leader when the Second Unit is on the floor and considered Golden State’s secondary goalscorer, his role with the Warriors has allowed him to thrive.
“He’s answering the bell, defensively, offensively,” said Draymond Green. ” [Tuesday] he was amazing. You can see it from the start. He attacked, he got offensive rebounds, hit jump shots, entered the post. He scored in every way he could. He continued to grow. It was great to see his growth. A guy that a lot of people had canceled in his career who just said, “Oh, he’s going to get his 20 points, and that’s it. He really rose to the challenge. “
Green has constantly been on Wiggins’s ear to attack and be aggressive. Last week, Green told Wiggins to go out and “dominate” the Pelicans when the team was in New Orleans.
It’s something the team thinks they can do, despite the reputation they had when they arrived at Golden State. And of course he can.
“The dude can go,” Kent Bazemore said.
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The Warriors need this version of Wiggins as they wrap up the final two games of the regular season and prepare for the play-in tournament and possibly the playoffs.
Not just Mr. Consistent, but the assertive Wiggins.
They need their ironman to chase his shot, then turn around and lock the guys up on defense. They need him to be the guy who can rock the transition from a secondary – even tertiary – goalscorer to the main man on the floor when Curry gets a night’s rest.
They need him to be another reason teams fear the Warriors in the playoffs.
If they get this version of Wiggins, this team might surprise people in the playoffs.
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