Warriors' early reviews on Andrew Wiggins filled with deserved praise


SAN FRANCISCO -- It has been four games now, long enough for Andrew Wiggins to play down to his reputation.

Yet the wait continues.

Wiggins has played well above average and miles beyond advertised during his first two weeks with the Warriors, acceptable-to-good on defense and downright efficient on offense. In short, he looks very capable of helping any franchise with a stable environment.

Though the Warriors have lost all four games, including a 135-105 spanking at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at Chase Center, Wiggins has performed well enough to be spared the blame.

“People have said he’s overrated, for a couple years,” coach Steve Kerr said after the loss. “He’s become underrated. If you look at what he does, if you look at his size, if you look at the way he defends, the guy is a damn good NBA player. It seems people have forgotten that.”

Wiggins led the Warriors in scoring for the second consecutive game, with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. He’s averaging 22.7 points over four games, shooting 57.9 percent overall and 52.6 percent from deep.

There has been barely any sign of the typical adjustment period for a player in his initial games with a new franchise.

“One thing that’s been apparent right away is he picks up everything up very quickly,” Kerr said. “He’s had no problem memorizing and recognizing the plays. When we call plays out of a timeout, he’s in the right spot every time. He understands exactly what he’s supposed to do out there and what we’re trying to do.”

Yet it’s his defense that is drawing copious praise from his new teammates. He’s being assigned to dangerous scorers -- LeBron James, Devin Booker and, on Thursday, James Harden -- and is acquitting himself well.

Wiggins is passing the Draymond Green test, which at its baseline requires focus, earnest effort and proper use of physical tools. Draymond believes Wiggins has All-Defensive team potential, a belief nobody in the locker room seems eager to debate.

“He’s been huge for us, obviously defensively, but also offensively,” Damion Lee said.

“He defends his position well,” Kerr added. “He uses his length. The good thing for us is we can sort of plug him in and put him on any of the perimeter players that we want. That’s a really valuable dynamic to have in the player, especially because we’ve got the same dynamic with Klay [Thompson].

“To have that kind of duplicity with those two guys going into next year will be good for us because we can mix and match and neither guy will ever be overpowered physically.”

Thompson is 6-foot-6, with a 6-9 wingspan. Wiggins is 6-7, with 7-foot wingspan, roughly the same as former Warriors star Andre Iguodala. Eight steals and seven blocks in four games are numbers with a very Iguodala-like feel.

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It hasn’t taken long for Wiggins not only be embraced but also become popular with his teammates. He has, thus far, been the consummate professional who also happens to be productive on the court. He’s going about his business as good as anyone could have hoped.

“I feel like we say, “Just go do you,” honestly, just because, we know who he is,” Eric Paschall said. “We know what he’s capable of. We’ve played him before. He gave us 40 [points] earlier this year. We know what he can do, so none of this is a surprise for us.”

The wait for the much-maligned Wiggins, the one many considered insufficient in trade for D’Angelo Russell, continues. If he never surfaces, the doubters will have to go silent.

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