How Andrew Wiggins went from disappointment to key champion

This may sound crazy crazy to someone who recently joined the NBA, but was once known as Andrew Wiggins. maple jordan – Michael Jordan Canadian. The teenager, who was already playing basketball in high school, was considered the next superstar in basketball, a generational talent that would dominate the NBA. In addition to LeBron James in 2003, there is no other player his age in the NBA with more expectations and the world’s expectations on his shoulders in the XXI.

Although the college year was almost over, the winger was the first choice in the 2014 draft; The owner of the selection, the Cleveland Cavaliers, had just returned from LeBron James and was looking for veterans, so he sent the Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the stars of Kevin Love. The trade was unanimous for the Wolves: it became the center of a reconstruction that had many talented young talents like Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, and (a year later) Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota immediately became the most promising youth team in the league, and Wiggins was a big part of the reason.

But his Minnesota career didn’t take off. Rookie of the Year, Wiggins soon made it clear that he would be a polarizing player: his fans expressed 17 points in the game and some impressive moments in defense to show that he had a lot of good in it, and the rest of his game. it would come with time; His opponents showed tremendous effectiveness (45% on 2 shots, 31% on 3 balls), few rebounds, difficulty in creating (more wickets than wickets) and a lack of defensive attention to say that Wiggins was a player who put good numbers in the wrong. group, but without any real contribution.

As the years went by, the second narrative gained momentum. Wiggins improved his score over the next few years, but all his mistakes remained the same, with no sign of real evolution; apathy and lack of evolution were soon hated by the crowd. To top it all off, the promising Wolves team was never launched until the committee tried a bold move to bring in Jimmy Butler; The movement made its first appearance in the playoffs in fifteen years for Wolves, but after a quick knockout, everything went downhill, forcing Butler – who was said to be angry at Wiggins and Towns’ lack of enthusiasm and enthusiasm. As another reconstruction failed and all high hopes were dashed in Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins – with his now extremely expensive maximum contract – has become a symbol of that failure.

The relief came only in the 2020 season. The Timberwolves were eager to take part in the trade that led D’Angelo Russell, then the Golden State Warriors, to the north leading the Wiggins. Golden State received a selection of Wiggins and a priceless draft, and it was agreed at the time that the Warriors ’interest lay in the selection, not the player; It was just a contract Wiggins had to take part to exceed his commercial salary, and Golden State would try to involve him as soon as possible in another deal that would bring a good veteran to the California team.

I remember at the time I was one of the few more optimistic Wiggins could offer the Warriors than I thought they were: with Curry and Thompson, Wiggins didn’t have to carry the burden of the goal, and he could focus. about what he did more efficiently; With Curry, Draymond Green and a moving ball attack, he shouldn’t spend much time holding the ball in his hands or being forced to create for himself or others. In this way, he was able to focus on what he did best: throwing from the field, cutting the basket, using his speed and athleticism to counter the passing lines. Basketball’s lack of intelligence, intensity, and difficulty in defensive rotations were issues, but if Wiggins was a team that could pick up on those traits, it was always a Warriors defined with those traits.

For a year and a half, the selection of Wiggins and drafts was found to be mixed up in all the commercial rumors. There was consensus among the industry that the Warriors ‘plan was to use these assets (and Wiggins’ salary) to acquire one more star. Names like Pascal Siakam, Bradley Beal and Ben Simmons were taken as reinforcements by the Warriors instead of the Canadian. A trade seemed like a matter of time, and living with these constant rumors couldn’t be easier.

However, the Warriors had other plans, and they opted for what was most valuable: their culture and continuity, which has been so successful for so many years to bring out the best in the players who pass by. They also believed that by doing the same to Wiggins, the team would benefit greatly from his athleticism, physical strength and aggression with the basket, as the team lacked features on the roster, and could help offset the natural decline of your Big Three age. injuries. They saw Wiggins as part of their present and future, and they opted for that view.

The road gradually slowed down, hampered by injuries to Curry and Klay, but began to show signs. His outside shots improved tremendously, and Wiggins exchanged his hard central shots with more patience and more baskets near the edge. He was increasingly aware of how to carry out the Warriors ’spin attack and find spaces to cut the ball and catch passes. He was dedicated to defense and eventually became active on this side of the court, combining his always good individual defense with a much safer and more intelligent collective defense, using his physical talents to create chaos in counterattacks. There weren’t many practical changes to Andrew Wiggins ’game, but he was assigned to take on the role by force — which was much better suited to his abilities, and he did his best in a team with players who could afford to specialize in that — the player. he changed from water to wine on the court.

The 2022 season was, of course, the culmination of this evolution. Appearing in the All Star Game as a headline was largely influenced by a K-Pop campaign, but it was well worth the All Star Game. After fulfilling his role early in the playoffs, with victories over Memphis and Denver, Wiggins would reach the pinnacle of that transformation in two crucial series against the Mavericks and Celtics. It was Wiggins who was in charge of the Herculean task of defending Luka Doncic in the Western Finals, and his success was an important part of his dominance in the Warriors series; Luke had some great performances because he was still a monster, but his effectiveness slowed down and Wiggins managed to stifle the Slovenian to the point where he didn’t need defensive help, opened Dallas ’passing lines, killing the Texans’ perimeter game and unbalancing the series. . Wiggins also had a 27-point, 11-rebound game in the series, including a spectacular (and symbolic) dunk of the season:

In the finals, Wiggins was once again given the most difficult task in defense, defending Jayson Tatum. And as against Luke, Wiggins was perfectly perfect, rubbing Tatum completely and leaving the Celtic winger out of the series: after averaging 27 points per game with a 45% shot in the East, Tatum dropped to a whopping 22 points and 37%. He was in the final and completely lost when Game 6 arrived. And it wasn’t just Wiggins who made a mess of the defense: the winger also dominated the rebounds, playing 16 games and another 13 rebounds, averaging 9, the game average. ironic for a player so opposed to this type of gameplay early in his career. And Wiggins was instrumental in Golden State winning the 5th game of the Final; Curry played his worst game and without taking the team’s attack, Wiggins took charge and exploded to 26 points and 13 rebounds, making him the best player on the court. With Klay Thompson barely on the field and Draymond Green missing in the first four games, Wiggins was comfortably the second-best player in the Golden State Warriors finals and perhaps something that seemed unthinkable two years ago in the playoffs overall.

Wiggins is not and never will be the star he was expected to be, but he has become an invaluable asset to an NBA champion team. Somehow, he became a star in his role: defending the best opposing players, using his athleticism in a constructive way, taking advantage of the spaces created by Curry, and being able to catch fire when the team needed it even in small doses. When the team needed to get an attacking superstar, he got out there and did it. Playing low, when they needed someone to master the rebounds, Wiggins showed up. When Curry had his only bad game, Wiggins had his best. And when all went well and Golden State had to spin the Wiggins ball, hit the free kicks and avoid any obstacles, he did just that. It may not be a player who has changed franchises and taken the title on his own, but every champion team needs someone like that – and the Warriors found this crucial piece in the title, where everyone thought he was dead weight.

And now, two years later, Andrew Wiggins is NBA champion.

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