With Klay Thompson returning, the bench filled with legitimate NBA players, James Wiseman with a year of NBA games under his belt, and the spark Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody could provide, the Warriors seem to be back. Two things have been recognized as the main variables between success and failures – Klay’s health and the production of Wiseman, Kuminga, and Moody. Andrew Wiggins could turn out to be more significant than all of those.
As it stands, the rules in San Francisco are such that “operators or hosts” of large indoor events must require all staff to show proof of vaccination before entering the facility. In the Warriors case, that includes players. Wiggins had made it clear that he has no intention of getting vaccinated, which would mean he can’t play in home games for the Warriors. He did ask for a religious exemption from the city, but that takes time. The fact nine out of their first twelve games are at home is raising alarms in Golden State.
There’s increasing concern among the Warriors about the early-season availability of starting small forward Andrew Wiggins, who has declined to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to NBA sources.Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle
If a local rule says all employees have to be vaccinated, the NBA would need to grant Wiggins a medical or religious exemption for him to petition San Francisco to grant him the right to play despite not being vaccinated. Wiggins never publicly explained his reasons for not getting the vaccine, but league sources believe the NBA will grant him a religious exemption. Still, the question is when it will happen and what the specific procedure in San Francisco will be after it happens.
Steph played at an MVP level last season, and you can’t take his prime for granted. The Warriors need everyone back from day one to give themselves a chance to be a contender after 82 games. The Clippers and Nuggets are missing key players, the Lakers are old and vulnerable, the Suns will regress to the mean, and the Jazz are still recovering from an embarrassing loss in the Playoffs. The time for the Warriors is now, so their concern about his issue will only grow.
Keep in mind that this offseason has actually been shorter than the last one between the Orlando bubble and the sudden start in December of last year, particularly for players who were in Tokyo, such as Draymond Green. Teams will need to load manage the hell out of this season, and missing a young wing starter for nine or ten games does not help your chances to compete.
As much as we are slowly returning to normal, whatever that may be, COVID will still be a significant factor this season, and the Warriors are painfully aware of that. Youn know what they say – availability is the best ability.