Wiggins looks ‘amazing' scrimmaging before Warriors-Kings


SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole each played all 82 regular-season games in the 2022-23 campaign for the Warriors. Draymond Green put his body on the line and battled through plenty of bumps and bruises. Steph Curry has returned from two separate injuries that held him out this season for 11 games each. 

Avoiding the NBA play-in tournament and securing a top-six seed in the Western Conference was huge for all of the above. 

None more so than Andrew Wiggins. 

The All-Star forward hasn't played in a game since Feb. 13. If Wiggins is good to go by Saturday's Game 1 between the Warriors and Sacramento Kings to start the first round of the playoffs at Golden 1 Center, it will be more than two months since he last appeared in a game. But the Warriors' strong push down the stretch of the season has allowed Wiggins more time to get his legs under him as he returns from a family matter, and he has opened a lot of eyes. 

Wiggins scrimmaged Tuesday and Wednesday with the Warriors. He now has scrimmaged a handful of times since recently coming back to the team, and Steve Kerr can't be much happier with what he has seen. 

"He's really looked good this week," Kerr said Wednesday after Warriors practice at Chase Center. 

Warriors center Kevon Looney took his assessment of Wiggins a step further. 

"He looked amazing today," Looney said. 

Last season was when Wiggins established himself as someone who can continue the Warriors' dynasty in the present and future. In his age-26 season, he made his first All-Star team, set a new career high as a 3-point shooter by making 39.3 percent of his attempts from deep and locked into being a shutdown defender. 

Once the playoffs began, his game hit another level. He was knocking down shots. He was causing a commotion for the opposing offense. He was flying for rebounds and put Luka Dončić on a poster that Warriors fans will have etched in their memory bank for eternity. 

It's impossible to put too many expectations on someone who has missed so much time, and for a delicate reason. In the scrimmages that Wiggins has been a part of, though, Steph Curry sees someone who hasn't lost a step. Looney envisions Wiggins earning his Two-Way Wiggs nickname again much sooner rather than later. 

"Defense, rebounding," Looney said when asked how sees Wiggins helping the Warriors right away. "He's a guy that guards the other team's best player. And he's a guy that when the shot clock is getting low, when can just throw him the ball and he's going to go get a bucket. That's something we've been missing all year.

"To have him back for the playoffs is going to be important for our team. The playoffs, teams start taking some things away. Sometimes you got to go get a bucket, and he's one of the best at that." 

Over three games this season against the Kings, Wiggins had no problem getting a bucket on Mike Brown's defense. He averaged 25.0 points while shooting 55.6 percent overall and 39.1 percent from long distance. He scored 24 points against them in their first matchup, 25 in the second and 26 in the third. 

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Now in his ninth season as a pro, Wiggins easily missed his most time this season. And not only to step aside and tend to a family matter.

Earlier this season, Wiggins was sidelined for 15 straight games to an adductor injury and two separate illnesses. When he returned, he wasn't quite himself. It took him six games to score at least 20 points again. 

His best game following that 15-game stretch happened to be his final of the regular season when Wiggins scored 29 points with seven rebounds and four assists against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 13. That previous slow start coming off an absence doesn't worry Kerr. He compares Wiggins to Andre Iguodala in the sense that the two never seem fully out of shape. 

The Warriors won't make any guarantees on Wiggins' status for Game 1 quite yet. Until then, only positives are coming from their reviews. 

"He looks really good in the scrimmages, and we'll continue to give him more each day," Kerr said. "Then we'll get a read on it. We'll see how he looks on Saturday. But we're thrilled to get him back."

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