Player in focus: Andrew Wiggins and his journey so far with the Golden State Warriors | NBA Season 2020-21

Andrew Wiggins with the Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins with the Golden State Warriors
Kunal Sethi

Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in 2014 and the 2015 "Rookie of the Year," could never live up to his potential at the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, it seems like he has found his place in the Golden State Warriors and is flourishing this season.

He was acquired by the Warriors in February 2020 in exchange for D'Angelo Russell and in the 12 games he played for them that season, he averaged 19.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals a night. He dropped 24 points and 5 steals on his Warriors debut.

Role with the Golden State Warriors

Andrew Wiggins attempts to block Michael Porter Jr.'s shot
Andrew Wiggins attempts to block Michael Porter Jr.'s shot

Coach Steve Kerr has used Andrew Wiggins' versatility expertly and the player fulfils multiple roles on the team. He is originally listed as a small forward but plays shooting guard more often. Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. have rotated between the small forward and two-guard positions as and when coach Kerr sees fit.

Wiggins plays all 12 minutes of the first quarter as a starter and continues to play for the first six minutes of the second quarter when Stephen Curry and Draymond Green resting

This rotation has made him a valuable starter and the leader of the second unit. Andrew Wiggins ensures that Golden State's lead doesn't reduce in the absence of the other starters in the second quarter.

Wiggins also guards the opponents best perimeter player. He has drastically improved his defensive abilities and is now one of the best defenders on the team.

Season so far

Andrew Wiggins is having one of his best shooting seasons ever. Although he isn't averaging as much as he did during his time in Minnesota, he is shooting at a much higher efficiency. Wiggins has also taken his three-point shooting to a whole new level under the Warriors, averaging a career-best 38% from beyond the arc so far this season.

He has proven to be an elite scorer who often carries the team whenever Curry's shots aren't falling or when he gets double-teamed. Andrew Wiggins is trusted with the ball late in games and usually delivers as the opposing defense is always focused on doubling Curry and getting the ball out of his hands. Wiggins exploits this lack of attention on him and gets the job done.

Andrew Wiggins has played in every game of the season and been one of the most reliable players for the Golden State Warriors. He is averaging 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game so far. Wiggins is averaging nearly 20 points a night on 48/42/73 shooting splits since the All-Star break.

Andrew Wiggins has had 18 games this season with 20+ points, including one game in which he dropped 40 points.

Strengths and weaknesses

Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors guarding Bradley Beal
Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors guarding Bradley Beal

Andrew Wiggins has shown himself to be an elite scorer who can get a bucket in a variety of ways. He idolized Kobe Bryant growing up and has modeled his game to a degree on the Lakers' legend.

Wiggins can post up in the paint, shoot from the inside, play off-ball, and also possesses a decent midrange game. He is the second-highest scorer on the team behind Stephen Curry, and when Klay Thompson gets back from injury next season, Wiggins may excel even further.

He will not have the same kind of burden next year that he has this season and can thrive alongside the backcourt of Curry and Thompson.

However, his main improvement this season has been on the defensive end of the floor. Although the numbers don't show it, he has excelled as a shot-blocker this season. Under the tutelage of Green, Wiggins has taken his ability to lock down guards and contest their shot attempts, to a whole new level.

A major chink in his armor is his passing. His assist numbers are down and he will need to improve in that area considering he will need to feed Curry and Thompson the ball a lot next season. Wiggins' defense and scoring can be perfectly complemented with a playmaking attribute which will make him one of the most valuable small forwards in the game.

Expectations from Andrew Wiggins going forward

Andrew Wiggins of Golden State Warriors attempts a layup against the Hornets
Andrew Wiggins of Golden State Warriors attempts a layup against the Hornets

Andrew Wiggins has to show that he can continue his productivity in the postseason. He has played in only one series in the playoffs in 2018 and if the Warriors don't tank the rest of the season, he will have a major role to play in May.

Going forward, Wiggins will not be expected to do much when Klay Thompson gets back. As mentioned earlier, he is will have a lesser burden of scoring but will need to maintain his production on the defensive end.

Andrew Wiggins has shown durability and barely misses games. He has played more than 80 games in a season four times in his seven-year career and hasn't missed a single game this season as well.

Andrew Wiggins has shown a hunger to learn more as he is constantly expanding his game. He simply needs to continue his level of play and contribute in all manners possible for the Golden State Warriors.

Also Read: Top 5 underrated small forwards in the 2020-21 NBA season so far

Edited by S Chowdhury
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