Wiggs' disappearing act should make Dubs queasy as stakes rise


Embarking on a treacherous five-game road trip with Klay Thompson at 85 percent, Draymond Green at 75 percent and Stephen Curry totally absent, the Warriors had a massive void to fill, and it was fair to look toward Andrew Wiggins.

He’s a healthy veteran, and he was 29 days removed from starting the All-Star Game when he boarded the team flight to Orlando.

Though Wiggins had been slumping, this was an opportunity. The stars had lined up. The need was urgent. Time to shine.

The trip was brutal, as the Warriors lost four of the five games, including two to teams light years from the playoffs and another to a group clinging to a berth in a play-in game.

Over the five games, Wiggins shined for a total of 22 minutes.

The trip concluded Monday with a 123-95 drubbing delivered by the ever-robust Grizzlies in Memphis. Wiggins played more minutes than anyone on either team except rookie teammate Jonathan Kuminga and was outscored by three teammates, including his other rookie teammate, Moses Moody, who came off the bench.

Wiggins contributed 10 points, on 5-of-15 shooting, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and three turnovers. He was minus-19 over 29 minutes.

The Warriors, coaches and teammates, would be within reason to have expected more from Wiggins in this game – and on this trip. In the wake of Curry’s foot injury, Andrew indicated he was ready to bring his best.

“Without him, everybody has to step up and do their part,” Wiggins said three days before the Warriors left town. “Do more than their part.

“I’ll just try to do more. Be more aggressive. Do what I can to help the team win. Whatever they need.”

Wiggins over the five games averaged 16.6 points per game, on 41.1 percent shooting, including 24.0 percent from beyond the arc. He added 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.4 turnovers.

Assistant coach Mike Brown, who took over Monday after head coach Steve Kerr was ejected after the first half, fancy-danced around the subject of Wiggins’ disappointing week and never mentioned his name.

“It is what it is,” he said. “Whoever is available to put on a uniform, they’ve just got to go out and compete. Sometimes it doesn’t happen.”

Kevon Looney, a polite man and a superb teammate, opted to spread the blame.

“We expected more out of everybody,” he said. “I wouldn’t just put it all on him. . .. We all had some plays and some things we would want to do better in that game, so I wouldn’t just put it on Wiggs.”

That’s true. The Warriors, as a team, shot poorly Monday and most of the trip, topping 50-percent shooting from the field only once and topping 35-percent from deep only once. Jordan Poole, a cyborg most of the month, rejoined the human race. Thompson shot well, but Kuminga’s offense dipped. Green acknowledged being off his game.

Wiggins was in position to address this, and he’s better credentialed than the rest of the roster.

Aside from the stunning victory over the Heat in Miami – when he rebounded from a two-point first half with 20 in 22 minutes in the second half to lead the way – Wiggins too often blended into the background in times when he was needed out front.

Curry couldn’t be there. Thompson was there at times but is not yet himself after a 31-month layoff. Green isn’t ready to be that guy. Three All-Stars, in various states of recovery, in need of a healthy fourth.

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That’s the man formerly known as “Two-way Wiggs.” Wiggins.

“We can’t wait on Steph. We can’t wait on Draymond. We can’t wait on anybody,” Brown said. “Whoever can put on a uniform is going to have to go out there and play. We’ve done it before. It was a big team win for us down in Miami, and we were missing most, if not all, of the guys that have played in the playoffs for us in the past.

“Steve, myself and the rest of the staff, we all have a lot of confidence in the guys on this roster. We’re going to keep trying to push them and coach them and teach them – and our veterans are going to help out in the locker room – to get these guys ready to go play a playoff game.”

This was Wiggins’ chance to carry a heavier load, to be a bridge until everybody is healthy. He did not perform as needed, which has to make the Warriors a bit queasy as the stakes rise.

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