Jonathan Kuminga

Wiggins provides reminder of value in Warriors' win over Bulls

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Andrew Wiggins accomplished several things in the Warriors' 140-131 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at United Center.

Back in the starting lineup for the first time in nearly a month, Wiggins proved he still can be a key player on a Warriors team that is trying to salvage what thus far has been a mostly disappointing 2023-24 NBA season. The former No. 1 overall draft pick also put to rest any doubts about whether he and Jonathan Kuminga could play well together at the same time.

Wiggins also came up big defensively in the third quarter when he matched up against Chicago guard Coby White, who finished with 25 points but scored just two in the third quarter while going up against Wiggins.

Wiggins had a solid stat line, scoring 17 points to go with eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and one block.

It was Wiggins’ most points since he tallied 22 in the Warriors' Christmas Day loss to the Denver Nuggets.

“I thought Wiggs was great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the win. “He played a fantastic game. He pressured Coby White to start that third quarter.”

Maybe just as importantly, Wiggins’ performance against the Bulls undoubtedly raised his potential value on the open market should the Warriors opt to move him before the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline. He, along with Kuminga, have been among the players who reportedly could be dealt.

Even after beating the Bulls, the Warriors are in 12th place in the West and there’s been plenty of speculation over whether first-year general manager Mike Dunleavy will make a deal or not.

Asked about the idea of the Warriors needing to make a trade after Wednesday's loss to the Pelicans, Stephen Curry essentially said one was needed.

“If things stay the same, that’s the definition of insanity, right?" Curry said to reporters. "Keep doing the same thing expecting a different result."

Wiggins has been in and out of the Warriors' starting rotation most of the season, was replaced in the starting lineup by Kuminga in early December and scored in double digits in seven of eight games off the bench during one stretch.

Like many of his teammates, Wiggins clearly was off in games against the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and Pelicans last week. In the three games, the veteran forward shot a combined 4 of 19 from the field and scored a total of 11 points.

He was much sharper against the Bulls, connecting on 8 of 13 attempts from the field. Four of his five misses came beyond the arc.

One of Wiggins’ best plays came in the third quarter when he chased down an offensive rebound, then turned and drove straight at 6-foot-10 Nikola Vucevic for a bucket that tied the game 84-84.

That was while he and Kuminga were on the floor together. In the past, Kerr had been hesitant to play the two together because of spacing reasons and the similarity in their games. But the duo worked well together in Chicago, particularly during that game-changing third quarter.

Kuminga did his best work from the perimeter – he made all four 3-pointers he attempted – while Wiggins attacked the paint and repeatedly hit his mid-range.

“I love sharing the court with Wiggs,” Kuminga told reporters at the United Center. “As we talk and watch film how to get better together, it’s going to help us throughout the season.”

In a display of faith, Kerr used both players as part of his closing rotation as the Warriors held off the Bulls' comeback attempt.

“I thought both JK and Wiggs were just playing such great games that you gotta throw them out there,” Kerr said. “Two of our best players tonight. JK it was maybe the best game he’s played, not just because he made four threes, but his spirit and his energy. He seemed right, he seemed comfortable.”

The same could be said of Wiggins, who opened his night with a 3-pointer and emphatic two-handed jam that set the tone for the Warriors.

If he keeps it up, Wiggins can be a valuable asset, whether on the floor with the rest of the Warriors, or as trade bait.

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