How Wiggins showed he can be a long-term fit with Warriors


When Andrew Wiggins first joined the Warriors, he brought his infamous reputation from Minnesota with him. 

People thought he was a bit lazy. He couldn't lead a team. He was no longer the player that got drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2014.

But in his first full season with the Warriors, Wiggins shed all of those misconceptions and completely revitalized his NBA career

Wiggins averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists while posting career-highs in shooting percentages (48 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three) and played in all but one game. Then on the other end of the floor, Wiggins was a solid perimeter defender and established himself as a real 3-and-D wing. 

In a year full of inconsistency for the Warriors, Wiggins emerged as one of their most reliable players and solidified himself as part of the Warriors' future. 

The Warriors have provided Wiggins with the perfect environment to thrive in: A place where he isn't relied upon to be the No. 1 option. Instead, he took on a supporting role, which allowed him to play more freely and his style.

Wiggins adapted seamlessly to playing alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green, and it's hard not to get excited about the idea of him next to Klay Thompson next season. 

But moving forward, there will be times where the Warriors will need Wiggins to step up his aggression. There were multiple opportunities to do that this season when Golden State was rattled with injuries, but Wiggins didn't quite do it enough. 

He had a 40-point outburst against the Memphis Grizzlies in March, but only recorded one other 30-point-plus performance all season -- a 38-point game against the Phoenix Suns on May 11.

As part of the second unit with Thompson and Jordan Poole next season, Wiggins will also need to become more of a play-maker, setting up not only himself but the others on the court at the same time, particularly through driving and kicking. His 2.4 assists per game came with 1.8 turnovers, so getting that ratio down will be critical. 

There is a caveat with Wiggins and his future in Golden State. While he cemented himself as a key player for the Warriors, he also drove his stock up higher than ever before, and that, combined with his $31.5 million next season, makes him a possible trade asset for the Warriors if they choose to go after a veteran free agent.

RELATED: Wiggins joining Canada for Olympic qualification push

He is the only player on the Warriors' roster that makes enough money to be included in packages to get players such as Bradley Beal, Paschall Siakam or Paul George if they become available.

But those trades are very hypothetical. As I said, there is no certainty that those players will even be on the market. And if they aren't, the Warriors should feel very comfortable with what they have in Wiggins. 

Wiggins is playing some of the best basketball of his career, has become a role player, and can get even better with the return of Thompson.

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