On the “Runnin’ Plays” podcast with Grant Liffmann and Kerith Burke Barbosa stated that he’s had a minor conversation with Wiggins but that he’s made his ambitions with the team clear.
“I talked to him about his (main) goal, and he said that he wants to be a champion,” Barbosa shared. “I said, ”You are in the right place.’ It’s a great place to be. You have the great players to be around.”
He continued on talking about what Wiggins could do defensively to impact the team immediately.
“To be honest it’s on him. He’s very talented on the offensive end – he can be on the defensive (end) also,” Barbosa continued. “We have to work a little bit, but if he’s willing to do that I’m sure he will be capable of doing it.
Coming into the NBA, Andrew Wiggins had very high expectations placed on him. From his high school days at Huntington Prep and being nicknamed “Maple Jordan”, to reclassifying and becoming the #1 prospect in the country per ESPN, to his 1 year at Kansas averaging 17.1 points 5.9 rebounds, while shooting 34% of his three-pointers, he was primed to become the next big thing.
Scouting reports likened his game to Paul George and DeMar DeRozan, two superstar caliber players. However, that hasn’t been the case as he’s underperformed for the status quo of number 1 overall picks.
One of the knocks against Wiggins is people question his drive and motor to be great. Timberwolves’ team owner Glenn Taylor publicly criticized Wiggins in 2017 for needing “to be better” before he offered him a max deal.
“To me, by making this offer, I’m speculating that his contribution to the team will be more in the future.” “We’ve got to be better. He can’t be paid just for what he’s doing today. He’s got to be better.
He continued on stating that better needs to happen but, he did have faith in him.
“So when you’re talking about negotiations on his part, I’m already extending to him that I’m willing to meet the max. But there are some things that I need out of him, and that is the commitment to be a better player than you are today.”
Back in 2018, it was revealed by The Sporting News’ reporter Sean Deveny that former teammate and Miami heat star Jimmy Butler and his former coach now New York Knicks coach Tom Thibeadu both felt that way.
“Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t.”
Golden State of Mind
Given the play of Wiggins throughout his career many have given up on the superstar potential he seemed to possess. That’s not the case within his new home of San Francisco. Warriors personnel have been very high on Wiggins and believe he will become a major contributor to the team this upcoming season.
The new director of players affairs and engagement, and former Warriors champion, Shaun Livingston has called Wiggins “incredibly talented” and is “anxious” to see him play. He believes he’ll mesh well with the team this upcoming season.
“I think it’s going to be a good fit. You got Steph, Klay, and Draymond, you got three guys that elevate other players, they make other players better with their skill set alone, not even who they are, not even just their personalities. From that standpoint, I think it’s a good fit.”
Hopefully, for Wiggins, this season can be a great step forward. Barbosa furthered his earlier comments about more Wiggins could do on the court to be successful.
“You know, we have the right guys, the right coaches – you know, to kind of teach him what he has to do on defense. We know that we have Draymond (Green) and Klay (Thompson) that are good defensive players, that can help him out with that stuff.
“We don’t have to wait so much on him from an offensive standpoint because we know he can score, he’s talented. He’s been doing it over and over for so many years in his career. So I think the addition to his game will be on defense and that’s what probably Steve (Kerr) wants from him and I’m sure he will do well.”