The emergence of Andrew Wiggins has been a revelation for the Golden State Warriors during the Finals. After Stephen Curry, the Warriors have been desperately looking for offense from just about anyone on the team.
With Curry finally having an off-shooting night for the Dubs in Game 5, Wiggins stepped up and lead the team and double-doubled with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Wiggins has been a man possessed on the boards in the past two games, racking up 29 rebounds.
His two-way effectiveness on the court has caused Steve Kerr to stick with him for the majority of these crucial games. In the past three games, Wiggins has played over 43 minutes. He has missed a total of 18 minutes in the past three games.
“It’s something I dreamt about for sure, being in the league, and this is the ultimate stage,” Wiggins tells reporters after Game 5. “It doesn’t get bigger than this. I was out there being aggressive. It was a good game.”
Former Polarizing Teammate Only Had Positive Things to Say About Wiggins
When Wiggins was originally traded from Minnesota to Golden State, he was considered a reclamation project for the Dubs. After being drafted No. 1, he had been labeled a bust. His stat lines were hollow. He would put up plenty of points, but it would be common if he took more shots than points scored.
After Game 5, Draymond Green reminisced of the time when Wiggins first got to Golden State. Green talked about how trust was built over the past two and a half years with Wiggins, and how the team always looked at Wiggins as someone who could fit within their system, rather than just a chip used to trade.
“When he first came here, and I’ll never forget, it was when Thibs [Tom Thibodeau] wasn’t with the Knicks, and Thibs was like, you’re going to love him,” Green continues. “He competes. He defends. And he was telling us Jimmy loved him. And we all know how Jimmy Butler is. If you have any softness to you, Jimmy don’t like you. That’s how Jimmy is cut.”
This is quite something. Jimmy Butler is widely known to rub many within the Minnesota organization the wrong way. Butler has outwardly talked about how the Timberwolves’ cornerstone had an ugly divorce towards the end of Butler’s tenure there.
Wiggins’ Defense Has Been Key to Warriors’ Success
His ability to be a two-way player on the floor has been vital in matching up against the Celtics, who throw out similar smaller lineups that can switch one through five.
In five games of these Finals, Jayson Tatum has been completely neutralized within the perimeter offensively. In 42 minutes when Wiggins is guarding Tatum, the Celtics’ star is shooting 18-for-48, 37.5%.
“I love guarding every team’s best player,” Wiggins says with a smile after Game 5. “I know it’s huge. It’s going to help win games, and it’s something I look forward to.”
Throughout the playoffs, Wiggins has been assigned the matchup to guard the best offensive player. Playing behind the superstar shine of Curry and the loud personality of Green has allowed Wiggins to thrive in a rather anonymous role, something that fits his shy, quiet personality.