The Golden State Warriors are going into the 2020-21 NBA season shorthanded. Just a few weeks ago they lost their All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson to a right Achilles tear and will be without him the entire season.
More recently, two of their key players tested positive for coronavirus. Both James Wiseman, the #2 overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft, and Draymond Green, former Defensive Player of the Year, both were held out of practices all week due to their diagnosis and may miss the preseason altogether.
With so many people missing it will put even more pressure on the team’s former two-time MVP, Steph Curry, to shoulder the load as well as the newly acquired Kelly Oubre Jr., formerly of the Phoenix Suns, to help the team supplant the production of Thompson.
However, the person who may be under the most pressure this season will be former #1 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins hasn’t reached the superstardom many projected for him on draft night and has had questions about his work ethic follow him throughout his career.
Yet one former teammate of Wiggins’ came to his defense recently to clear up and assumptions that he doesn’t work hard. Former Minnesota Timberwolves forward, and current Portland Trailblazer Robert Covington, told Wes Goldberg of Bay Area News Group that Wiggins’ personality was more so why people made those assumptions in the first place.
That’s just Wiggins’ personality. I thought that [too] until I actually saw him go after it.
I think the game just comes so easy to him that it looks nonchalant. When you’re that athletic and that talented, it might look like that. But I’ve never questioned that he was working hard or not trying.
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How Steph Curry Feels About Wiggins
With questions like those surrounding Wiggins’ work ethic, playing for Golden State may be the best thing that could have happened to him. The organization has a knack for being able to not only spot talent but foster it and help it to grow into what it can be. For example, none of their three stars, Curry, Thompson, or Green, were expected to be as good as they now are.
All three flew under-the-radar until they began to rampage through the western conference. The same could happen for Wiggins. Being in an organization and on a team where he can contribute in a major way without the pressures of being the marquee player could help him unlock new aspects of his game.
The Warriors star, Curry, spoke about this in-depth and why he’s “excited” to play with Wiggins.
I’m excited about it. I know, for him, there’s been a lot of conversations, especially coming out of the trade last year and this offseason — I know he’s heard a lot of the noise on where he fits in our long-term plans or if he’s going to get moved or all the other nonsense. I’ve always been in the camp of he has so much to prove in terms of taking the next step in his career and organization and with the potential that we all have in terms of unlocking some of the things that will help us be a winning basketball team and him having a huge part in that.
For him, it’s the theme of just get better, commit to what’s going to get us as a team to the next level and where he can really show his value and his ability out there on the floor and kind of put all the doubters to rest. I think he has a huge opportunity to do that this year and I’m excited. I know he’s put in a lot of work this summer. He looks good coming into camp. it’s one of those things where he’s averaged what, 20 something a game for his career. He knows how to put the ball in the basket. I think defensively he’s going to show a lot about his potential in terms of being an All-Defense type of guy and we expect that from him.
Wiggins’ Mindset This Season
With so much potential for everything to go well for Wiggins this season, it’s hard to imagine him not taking a leap in his production. He’s never played for a coach, or alongside, star players like he will as a Warrior, and it will be on him to show and prove he’s ready for the spotlight.
Wiggins himself elaborated on how he’s excited to play with the team’s star and what he thinks of what others have said about him.
I’m excited. I’m very excited having Steph Curry back. He’s someone that can do everything for us. Once he steps on the floor — just his presence is a game-changer. He on the floor is a game-changer. Getting a chance to play alongside him and learning, seeing how he goes about certain stuff — that’s what’s most important. I think him stepping on the court is going to be a game-changer.
It’s motivation. When you hear people talk good about you and saying you have another level, you just want to reach that level, reach that potential that you have within. And I’m going to keep working toward it.
I always feel like I can get better. I always feel like I can do more.
If Wiggins truly feels he can do more, and that he’s ready for it, the Warriors may surprise a lot of those who have already counted them out.