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Andrew Wiggins joins the exclusive list of Canadians who have won an NBA Championship

Andrew Wiggins trekked an interesting and challenging journey to his first-ever NBA Championship.
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins

It is official. Andrew Wiggins can call himself an NBA Champion. Gone are the debates on whether or not Wiggins could live up to being the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. Apart from shutting up his critics, Wiggins has joined the exclusive list of Canadians who have won an NBA Championship.

The Shortlist

Wiggins is just the eighth Canadian to win an NBA title. He joins Mike Smrek, Bill Wennington, Rick Fox, Joel Anthony, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, and Chris Boucher on the shortlist.

We can safely say that among those players on the list, Wiggins is the one who stands out the most. After all, a small pocket of analysts believed that Wiggins could win the NBA Finals MVP after his strong Game 5 performance. The man hit a couple of several baskets in the clutch. He made it look like he was the Warriors’ primary offensive gunner.

Though the NBA Finals MVP rightfully went to Stephen Curry, this is not a stain on Wiggins’ resume. The fact that he raised eyebrows for his performance could be taken as a victory in itself.

Wiggins’ journey

Wiggins trekked a pretty unique path to his first-ever NBA title. As mentioned, he was the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was the time when LeBron James returned to his hometown and assembled his team. Wiggins was one of the players who got packaged to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Love.

This early left turn in his career did not derail any momentum. He won Rookie of the Year and was tagged as the next big thing - he was, alas, nicknamed Maple Jordan. But as the years went on without a single trip to the playoffs, doubts were cast on Wiggins. Yes, he has the talent. But does he have the will to win a title?

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Perhaps the darkest chapter of Wiggins’ career was in 2018. While the Wolves made the playoffs, he and Jimmy Butler weren’t seeing eye-to-eye. This led to the infamous Wolves practice where Butler reportedly talked smack in Wiggins’ face and the coaching staff.

The Toronto native’s suffering would end not long after. In February 2020, he was traded to the Warriors for Jacob Evans, D’Angelo Russell, and Omari Spellman. The league suspended the season after a month due to the pandemic.

Golden State renaissance

The following season, fans saw what Wiggins could bring to the table. It was a mix of hope and apprehension. It’s not because of Wiggins’ subpar average of 18.8 points per game. But because the Warriors were still without Klay Thompson. And so there were worries about what would happen to Wiggins’ role when he returns.

Wiggins cast these doubts aside as he was able to adjust his game accordingly to Steve Kerr’s motion-heavy offense. He understood his role right from the get-go. Curry is the focal point of every possession, and Wiggins no longer had to create his own points through his signature post-ups, drives, and perimeter shots.

Other players of Wiggins’ caliber would say no to this. They would want to have their team where everything revolves around them.

This acceptance proved pivotal. Wiggins took on a more of a slasher and catch-and-shoot role. In Minnesota, his job was to create opportunities for himself and his teammates. When he arrived in the Bay, he was required to look for opportunities whenever the defenses collapsed on Curry.

Apart from making tweaks to his offensive tendencies, Wiggins worked hard on his defense. This was evident in the Western Finals against the Dallas Mavericks when he did a great job on Luka Doncic. Against the Celtics, Wiggins was able to hold his ground against the deadly forward duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Wiggins will be in the last year of his contract with the Warriors next season. Whether the team offers him a fresh new contract is a matter of wait-and-see. It will be challenging for the team as the man deserves to get paid. Whether he leaves the Bay or goes somewhere else, one thing is forever etched in history: Wiggins is a champion.

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