For the first time since — oh, the 2019 NBA Finals, probably — things are objectively great for the Golden State Warriors. With nearly a month of basketball on the books for the 2021-22 campaign, the team currently finds itself with the league’s best record at 9-1.
Meanwhile, Stephen Curry is doing Stephen Curry things, Jordan Poole and Damion Lee are playing better than ever and there is real hope that Klay Thompson can resemble his old, All-Star self when he finally returns this season.
Where finding things to nitpick is concerned, pessimistic fans and Warriors detractors have precious little to choose from. However, the early performance of Andrew Wiggins is one thing they can certanly zero in on.
Through 10 games, Wiggins’ basic numbers are down in a numbers of areas. So far, the former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 15.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 43.5% overall and 33.3% from deep. All of those stats represent a decrease compared to what he did in 2020-21.
But is any of that really cause for concern? The answer to the question may vary, depending on your level of Wiggins-related worry before the season.
In Many Ways, It’s the Same Old Wiggins
Any perceived drop in production is always going to raise an eybrow or two but, in many ways, Wiggins is doing a lot of the same things he has done since his Minnesota Timberwolves days. Here is Wiggins’ per-minute production so far in ’21-22:
Here is what he did in ’20-21:
And, just for kicks, these are the per-minute numbers from his last full year with the Timberwolves back in ’18-19:
When you break down his current production that way, it’s almost indistinguishable from what he has done throughout his career. If anything, the drop in his per-game averages can be attributed to reduced playing time (his MPG is down from 33.3 to 29.1) and a lower usage rate.
Wiggins is in the 75th percentile in usage rate this season, per Cleaning the Glass, after being in the 86th percentile in ’20-21.
His shooting percentages have been down as well, but they’re not far off from his career marks. Moreover, his three-point percentage may be abnormally low due to the 3-for-15 slump he has been in over the last three games. Also — offense has been down on the whole league-wide, perhaps due to some combination of the officials changing up their foul calls and the new Wilson basketball.
All that being said, there are a handful of stats that probably should be of some concern.
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The Bad Stuff
While some of Wiggins’ statistical shortcomings can be explained away by a slight change in usage/minutes, there’s definitely some bad stuff in there, too. Despite the two-way potential many saw in him before he was drafted, his defense has often left something to be desired.
And his negative impact on the Warriors’ D has been especially apparent this season.
When Wiggins has been on the floor in ’21-22, Golden State has conceded 101.6 points per 100 possessions, which seems like a strong number. When he’s off the floor, however, that number drops all the way to 88.4. For the math impared, that’s a negative swing of 13.2 pts/100 poss.
The 26-year-old has also been pretty bad at setting up his teammates this year. He was never Bob Cousy or John Stockton out there, but after showing great improvement as a playmaker in ’19-20 and ’20-21, he ranks in the 38th percentile in assist rate, per Cleaning the Glass.
All things considered, the Warriors may just be OK if Wiggins continues to perform at his current level. Especially if Thompson can come in and absorb some of his minutes/possessions. Still, his lack of efficiency in certain areas will be worth monitoring, especially if Golden State can get back into the title conversation.