The healthy core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are seen as the main force for the Golden State Warriors’ resurgence to contender status. While there’s some truth to this, head coach Steve Kerr believes that Andrew Wiggins, whom they acquired via trade two and a half seasons ago, is the real one who guided them back to the title chase.
A good reason why the Warriors fell out of contention after winning three titles in five years was the slew of injuries that plagued their roster, not to mention the retirement of key guys. Curry and Green were damaged goods and entered in and out of the lineup. Thompson sat out for two years after an ACL tear and an Achilles tendon injury. To add more insult to their injuries, the Warriors lacked credible and experienced role players. Through some key player movements and transactions, the president of basketball operations and general manager Bob Myers acquired Wiggins from the Minnesota Timberwolves. And it did not take long for the former first overall pick to fill in the void.
“I think the Wiggins trade is the key to all of this. I’ve said it many times probably, but we lost so many wing defenders after the [2018-19] season. Andre [Iguodala], Shaun Livingston, Kevin [Durant], Klay [Thompson] with the injury. Our whole wing core was wiped out defensively,” Kerr said, per NBC Sports.
"The Wiggins trade allowed us to start to rebuild that wing defense," Kerr said. "Wiggs has just been so good, he’s gotten so much better over the last couple of years. He’s a perfect fit next to our guys."
This is an interesting remark, perhaps another testament to the Warriors’ skill in unlocking their player’s potential. In his first few years in the NBA, Wiggins was never known to be a defensive guy. He was tagged as a versatile scorer — a forward with speed, strength, and stroke. These skills have been critical in Wiggins’ stint in the Bay. But he’s proven he can offer a whole lot more.
Ahead of their Western Conference Finals duel with the Dallas Mavericks, a searing question bothered fans’ minds: who will stop Luka Doncic? The knee-jerk answer would be Thompson or Green. The two boast of several NBA All-Defensive Team Selections. But Kerr made the bold choice of letting Wiggins defend one of the most potent offensive weapons in league history. And Wiggins has been delivering the goods.
"I don’t know where we’d be without him defensively with his work on Luka and every other top wing that we have to face," Kerr said. "He’s just been brilliant. I think that move was kind of the key move that Bob and the front office made to get us back to having a playoff-ready roster."
Yes, Doncic is averaging 34.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists against the Warriors. But tune in to the game and see how the Slovenian has had to crawl his way to those averages. Wiggins has been covering him with a ¾ press, sometimes a full-court one. He knows that it’s impossible to hold Doncic to zero points. So the only real thing he could do was to make everything difficult for him. With the Warriors up 3-0, we can safely say Wiggins has been succeeding in this colossal task.