This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigate
Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins, 22, defends against Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, 7, during the second quarter of the NBA Finals at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, at left guarding the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown during the NBA Finals, elevated his play in the postseason, helping result in the Warriors’ NBA title.
An argument can be made that no Golden State Warriors player’s personal narrative fluctuated more frequently last season than Andrew Wiggins.
The forward was named an All-Star for the first time after averaging 17.7 points and 4.2 rebounds on 48% shooting through the team’s first 54 games. But he couldn’t sustain that offensive production over the final 28 games, as his scoring, efficiency, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage all took major dips.
The Warriors needed Wiggins to increase his production down the stretch of the regular season, especially after Stephen Curry
But Wiggins kept pushing. And during the Warriors’ championship run, he elevated his game at both ends of the court and proved his doubters wrong. He averaged 16.5 points on 46% shooting in 22 playoff games, and his 7.5 rebounds per game ranked second on the team behind Kevon Looney’s 7.6.
When Gary Payton II was injured in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Wiggins took on the assignment of defending Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant for the rest of the series. He was arguably the Warriors’ best player during the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks. And Wiggins’ two-way impact in the NBA Finals helped Golden State close out the Boston Celtics in six games.
The narrative surrounding Wiggins entering the 2022-23 season is that of one of the best two-way players in the league. And if the 27-year-old can sustain his playoff success, Golden State’s chances of repeating as NBA champions improve dramatically.
While the former might be a little more difficult this season with Western Conference stars returning to full health, the latter should be within reach if he continues to guard with the same level of intensity he displayed in the postseason. While Wiggins’ offense is welcomed, it’s his elite perimeter game that makes Golden State so formidable.
The Warriors believe that the version of Wiggins seen in the postseason is sustainable, and the former No. 1 overall pick has plenty to play for this season. Wiggins is set to hit free agency next offseason, and money is the ultimate motivator.
C.J. Holmes joined The San Francisco Chronicle after four years at the Athletic, where he covered numerous college and pro teams, including the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, the University of Arizona, Arizona State, Villanova, Temple, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Penn. He’s a native of the Washington, D.C., area and developed love for the game of basketball when he was young. C.J. played high school ball at IMG Academy and college ball at Auburn University. He’s a movie junkie, comic book lover and a proud Husky dad. He’s also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.