With 43 points, Stephen Curry tied the Golden State Warriors in the series for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics on Monday at 10 p.m. at Chase Center. But the San Francisco team doesn’t just have the main actor. There’s a supporting actor who put in a solid performance in the triumph at TD Garden on Friday and who, bit by bit, is vindicating his criticized signing. It’s Andrew Wiggins.
Chosen No. 1 in the 2014 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the winger did not have the opportunity to play with LeBron James and quickly found himself involved in a trade, going to the Minnesota Timberwolves, in a negotiation that involved then-star Kevin Love. of the franchise. In his first season, Wiggins averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists and was named top rookie.
Despite improving his numbers in subsequent seasons, the player was referred to as a “bust”, a term used for players who are chosen in a high position in the draft, but do not justify this condition on the pitch. . They don’t take off, so to speak. The choice is considered a mistake, a missed opportunity by the franchise.
The label pursued the Canadian steadily in Minnesota until Golden State emerged in his career. He arrived to play alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in a swap deal for D’Angelo Russell in February 2020. The deal has been criticized. The Warriors were acquiring a “bust,” earning $31.5 million per season, and releasing a young man who was having a good time.
The beginning was not easy. There were only 12 games in this (half of) rookie season due to injury. Gradually, however, Wiggins figured out what his role in the franchise would be. He listened to the advice of coach Steve Kerr and, in addition to maintaining a reasonable score in attack (average of 18.6 points in 2020-2021 and 17.2 in the current season), he has become fundamental in defense.
The winger’s biggest test was in the Western Conference Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks. He was tasked with marking Luka Doncic, an unpredictable and deadly player. And it did the job perfectly. “Wiggins is an incredible defender,” summed up his teammate Jordan Poole. “I’m glad the world sees who he really is. He’s an incredible player and will continue to be for the next ten years,” added Klay Thompson.
On Friday, when Curry led the charge with 43 points, Wiggins put in a strong showing. He was Golden State’s longest serving player (43 minutes and 26 seconds) and recorded a “double-double” with an impressive 17 points and 16 rebounds, his personal best. In addition, he was instrumental in defense. “Being in Golden State makes me see other facets of the game. Being in a group of future Hall of Famers has been incredible. I appreciate that,” summed up the player.
For Golden State owner Joe Lacob, Wiggins was the best deal he’s made since buying the team in 2010. “Definitely the best. And one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time, a very long time. I thought Bob (Myers) had made it.” . amazing work and I don’t even know how to say it with enough emphasis,” he said. “Both are good players but they are different. You might wonder if it’s a better fit and we think so,” he added, quoting D’Angelo Russell.
That is to say, the tag “bust” must, ultimately, be in the past tense if the title comes. Wiggins just needed to have fewer responsibilities to make the most of it. Remember that when he arrived at Golden State, Draymond Green had already prophesied: “He doesn’t need anyone to take his hand and guide him. A bad player”.
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