Expectations for Wiggins in Warriors-Kings playoff series


Andrew Wiggins, arguably the Warriors' second-best player during their NBA championship run last summer, is expected to heavily contribute to the team's title defense after missing significant time late this season.

Wiggins was absent for Golden State's final 25 regular-season games because of a personal family matter. He rejoined the team at Chase Center on April 4 to begin the trek to return to game shape.

So, will he suit up in Game 1 of the Warriors' first-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center?

"I would expect that Wiggins will be ready to go on Saturday," NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole told Kerith Burke on the latest "Dubs Talk" podcast. "I’m not looking for 35 minutes, but look for him to be in the starting lineup. I would think he would play 20 to 25 minutes [in Game 1]."

If the 28-year-old forward was back in the starting five, the Warriors likely would roll out their lethal unit of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Wiggins. That five-man lineup played 331 minutes together, registering a league-high 128.0 offensive rating and 21.9 net rating among NBA lineups with at least 150 minutes on the floor.

Wiggins starting also means Donte DiVincenzo would return to a depth role. Golden State's playoff bench likely would consist of DiVincenzo, Jonathan Kuminga, Gary Payton II and Jordan Poole.

"Having him back means their rotation is back where they want it," Monte Poole said. " ... You’ve got four guys you like off the bench right now. And a nine-man rotation in the playoffs, that’s gold."

The Warriors, who claimed the Western Conference's No. 6 seed on the final regular-season day, will need all the depth they can manage against the Kings, who will counter with a high-flying offense that set an all-time NBA record with a 118.6 offensive rating.

"Two-Way Wiggs" returning should help Golden State's cause.

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"I think that’s huge for the Warriors," Poole said. "That’s why I think those guys are in such a good mood. … They know Andrew is coming back, they think he’ll be back [this] weekend.

"And if that’s the case, I think the Warriors are a whole different team than the team they’ve been the last couple months."

Let the Warriors' championship defense begin.

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