Andrew Wiggins has often been criticized due to his status as a No. 1 overall pick. The Minnesota Timberwolves expected big things from him: but he was criticized during his time in Minnesota for having no motor and being inefficient. However, in Golden State, the story has flipped around. Andrew Wiggins is looking like an elite two-way player and has improved in both areas considerably. There is no doubt that Wiggins has always had potential: perhaps this is the season where he can develop into the player everyone wanted him to be.
When he first got traded to the Golden State Warriors during the 2019-20 season, most people envisioned Andrew Wiggins being the third option on the Warriors. However, with Klay Thompson’s season-ending injury, Andrew Wiggins has had to step up. Andrew Wiggins has responded to the challenge, and he has improved the majority of his game this season. The flashes have always been there, but can Andrew Wiggins finally become a two-way star?
Andrew Wiggins Has Improved Defensively
Andrew Wiggins has always been gifted with good defensive physical tools. Wiggins is big for a shooting guard and has the length and athleticism to contest most shots on the perimeter. Being on a team with Draymond Green was bound to help Andrew Wiggins to improve defensively: Green knows when to switch and has experience guarding every position. It is natural that Wiggins has picked some useful pointers, and Draymond Green doesn’t let teammates slack on defense. Wiggins has been taking on the defensive challenge and it has been showing in recent games.
Andrew Wiggins’ defense on Kawhi Leonard in the last two games:
• Last night: 1/8 FG
• Wednesday: 1/4 FG & 5 TOs
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 9, 2021
Andrew Wiggins has some elite perimeter defense, but also the physique to guard some of the best wings in the game: he was guarding Kawhi Leonard during his matchups against the Clippers, but also guarded Paul George and Nicolas Batum for stretches as well. His ability to pick up the best offensive player on the court and make it difficult for them has been key for the Warriors’ success: between Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr., the Warriors have their wing defense covered.
Andrew Wiggins’ defense vs the Raptors last night:
Fred VanVleet: 2/6 FG
OG Anunoby: 1/4 FG
Pascal Siakam: 1/3 FG
(🎥 @anthonyVslater )
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 11, 2021
Andrew Wiggins’ improved defense showed against the Raptors small-ball lineup. Wiggins was able to make things difficult for Toronto’s forwards due to his athleticism while also being able to bother a smaller guard in VanVleet due to his length and speed on the defensive end. Wiggins has also been an underrated shot-blocker this season: he is currently averaging 1.5 BPG and got 4 blocks in the Toronto game. Andrew Wiggins is a good defender: he has developed into an elite on-ball defender with the Warriors and is using his natural athleticism to help him get blocks and protect the rim.
“I feel like I’ve always played good defense. I just feel like here the culture is different. Here everything is different especially with the guys I have behind me… I know they got my back. It’s great here.”
Andrew Wiggins 💯💯 pic.twitter.com/BRvWgcUaPg
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) January 11, 2021
Andrew Wiggins is showing he can guard up consistently, and his defense has been crucial for the Warriors to continue competing in the Western Conference. Maybe all it took was a culture change: we do know that the Golden State Warriors have a winning culture, while the Timberwolves are a franchise fighting for the playoffs. While Wiggins still has to show consistency defensively over an entire season, he is currently an elite defender who takes on the toughest perimeter matchup for the Warriors.
Andrew Wiggins Has Developed His Scoring
During his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wiggins was often asked to consistently create shots on the perimeter. Wiggins produced multiple good scoring seasons during his time with the Timberwolves, yet never produced the sort of superstar scoring that the Timberwolves wanted. With the Warriors though, he is a secondary shot creator, and he can excel in that role. The Warriors have given Wiggins license to take isolations at the end of games, and it has reaped good results.
If there’s a late game jumper to be hit in the face of Paul George, it will be hit pic.twitter.com/Iu8scNym0z
— Josh Eberley🇨🇦 (@JoshEberley) January 9, 2021
Andrew Wiggins hit a clutch jumper in the face of one of the league’s best defenders in Paul George. People weren’t talking about this kind of late-game ability when the Warriors first acquired Wiggins. But during this season, Wiggins has shown to be a reliable second scoring option. As seen from the video, Wiggins is an able isolation scorer. A large part of his improvement has been in his long-range shooting: Wiggins is currently shooting a career-best 38.5% from 3PT range during the 2020-21 season.
An underrated part of Wiggins’ improvement in efficiency this season has been playing with some good playmakers in Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. At 1:22 and 1:47, we see how playing with elite passers has elevated Wiggins’ game. Wiggins’ off-ball impact is maximized when playing with good passers, as he can cut to the basket and finish easy buckets inside with his athleticism.
Wiggins’ improved play around the basket has been a key part of his improvement. Wiggins has been an elite shot creator on the perimeter, he has been willing to drive the ball inside more. Wiggins’ handle has improved from his Minnesota days, and that has led to more finishes near the basket. Andrew Wiggins’ scoring is versatile, and he is a capable scorer from anywhere on the court. He is more efficient due to all the offensive attention on Stephen Curry and can excel in a second option role.
Andrew Wiggins Is Underrated
Overall Wiggins has a similar offensive package as before, it’s just more polished and consistent this season. Wiggins is thriving on both ends, and his defense is setting him apart as he is able to defend stars like Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. His impact has been good for the Warriors, who have lost players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who were both elite defenders. The loss of Kevin Durant’s scoring is also not to be understated; while Andrew Wiggins isn’t Kevin Durant, he has provided efficient scoring behind Stephen Curry.
The Warriors have been looking good during the regular season so far, and if they compete for a top seed in the Western Conference then Wiggins could see some All-Star votes. The Golden State Warriors are a popular market, and people will surely notice his two-way impact. The Golden State Warriors can surprise many analysts this season, and Andrew Wiggins is their secret weapon.