Warriors’ Kerr Sends Strong Message Ahead of Andrew Wiggins’ Finals Debut

Andrew Wiggins Andre Iguodala

Getty Golden State Warriors star Andrew Wiggins talks to Andre Iguodala during the 2022 NBA Finals Media Day.

There were a myriad of factors working in the Golden State Warriors‘ favor as the team made the long march back to the NBA Finals. Stephen Curry’s continued brilliance, the emergence of Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II and Draymond Green doing Draymond Green things all rate very highly in that regard.

Klay Thompson’s return — not just from injury but to a level bearing an incredible resemblance to his previous standard — has arguably been the biggest story of the bunch, though. And why not? The five-time All-Star was out of commission for a whopping 941 days and somehow managed to come back as a 20-point scorer and deadly long-range threat.

One of the underreported stories, particularly after his All-Star shine wore off down the stretch, has been Andrew Wiggins‘ ability to produce alongside the Steph-Klay-Dray core. However, the former No. 1 overall pick’s contributions haven’t gone unnoticed by those with discerning eyes.

For his part, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was raving about the baller during Finals Media Day on Wednesday.

Kerr Sounds Off on Wiggins’ Importance

We would not be here without Andrew Wiggins – Steve Kerr | NBA TodaySteve Kerr joins Malika Andrews on NBA Today to discuss his own health and how Andrew Wiggins has gelled with the rest of the Golden State Warriors roster. ☑️ Subscribe to ESPN+: plus.espn.com/ 📱Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn 🏀 Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/2yxs3Og ☑️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ☑️Watch ESPN…2022-06-01T20:13:30Z

During an appearance on NBA Today, Kerr didn’t mince words when describing to ESPN’s Malika Andrews how important Wiggins has been to the Dubs’ Finals run. As he sees it, the club’s season would have already ended without him.

“It’s all come to fruition in the playoffs,” Kerr said. “We would not be here without Wiggs. His defense throughout the playoffs has been amazing. The threat he provides offensively gives us another dynamic. It’s just been beautiful to watch him blend in with the core group.”

Although Wiggins’ scoring has dipped slightly during postseason play — he’s averaging 15.8 points on shooting splits of 48-35-64 — he has come through when the Dubs have needed him. He has also been significantly stronger on the glass, pulling down seven rebounds per contest, and routinely drawn the toughest defensive assignments.

More than anything, though, he’s impacting games in a measurably positive way. When he has been on the floor during the playoffs, Golden State has outscored opponents by 10.2 points per 100 possessions. Only Otto Porter Jr. has a higher number.

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Coach Kerr on Wiggins’ Integration

As Kerr sees it, getting Wiggins to buy into the team’s system and integrate with its established stars has been vital to the baller’s success. And he’s giving Curry, Thompson and Green as much or more of the credit for that success as he is to himself or Wiggins.

“I think the biggest thing is we just have a group of guys who play well together and enjoy assimilating others,” Kerr said. “Whether it was [Kevin Durant] all those years ago, joining a team with Steph and having Steph be so agreeable. Or a guy like Wiggs, who obviously wasn’t nearly as accomplished as Kevin but a lot of talent a lot of ability and needed to figure out his role with the team.”

He added: “They understand that a guy like Wiggs has so much value and then the ability each day to make Andrew feel a part of it, to show him where we need him.”


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