The regular season was a rollercoaster affair for the defending-champion Golden State Warriors, who finished just six games above .500 and largely couldn’t win on the road. And while a myriad of factors played into the shortfall, the extended absence of All-Star wing Andrew Wiggins certainly didn’t help matters.
As reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania in April, Wiggins took leave of his club because his father, Mitchell Wiggins, had been dealing with a serious medical situation. Consequently, the 28-year-old was limited to just 37 apperances for his team before making a postseason return.
When asked by The Athletic’s Sam Amick ahead of Game 1 of the Warriors’ second-round playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers whether the Dubs organization’s handling of the matter had strengthened the relationship between the parties, Wiggins left little doubt that it had.
“For sure. I’m forever grateful for what they did,” Wiggins told Amick.
Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins Addresses His Mental & Physical State Heading Into Lakers Series
Despite everything that has been going on in his personal life with his family — not to mention the difficulties that the Warriors have encountered throughout the campaign on the hardwood — Wiggins has managed to maintain his optimistic outlook on life.
“I’m doing good. I’m in a good space. And I feel like I’m always level-headed, always in a positive mindset,” Wiggins told Amick. “I’m a private guy, so I feel life’s a little bit more peaceful when you’re private.”
That approach paid dividends during the Dubs’ first-round series against the Kings. Despite having missed two months of action, Wiggins returned to average 18.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.0 steals across seven games versus Sacto. In other words, it was more or less business as usual for the former No. 1 overall pick.
“I feel like in Game 1, once I scored a couple points, I was like, ‘Pffft, I’m back. I’m good.’” Wiggins said.
“My feel for the game was still there. My rhythm and my conditioning felt good enough to compete. So I think I’m only going to get [better], because my conditioning still needs to get better. I feel like there’s still more. I mean, last year I was picking up full court [defensively] the whole playoffs, and I didn’t do that yet. It’s coming though.”
Wiggins Remains Firm in His Belief That the Warriors Are Still That Team
Even last season — which ended with the Warriors hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy after outplaying a Boston Celtics team that was coming into its own as a member of the league’s elite — the doom-and-gloom crowd was convinced that Golden State’s dynastic era was nearing its end. And that noise has only grown louder in 2022-23 amid the Warriors’ up-and-down effort.
For his part, though, Wiggins strongly believes that the ballers from the Bay are still the pace-setters in the Association.
“Oh, a hundred percent we can do it,” Wiggins said when asked by Amick if the Warriors are still a championship team. “We’ve got the pieces. We know we got the coaching for it. We’ve got the fans. I feel like we’re in good shape. I feel like [the Kings series] has prepared us, because this was tough. It was a dogfight, every game. It was hard.”