How good is Wiggins?
Preview: Wiggins, Poole, Questionable against Pacers tonight
The Golden State Warriors are trying to repeat as champions, and it has been a bumpy ride. Jostling out to a lackluster start, the Warrior revisited some of their substitution patterns and depth chart and fixed (mostly) what was going all wrong over the first 10 games. Winners of five of their last six games, it’s finally feeling like the machine that has run over so many challengers in the past.
A big part of the recent success has been some new help around the edges. Players like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson have been able to maintain their edge; but the improvements from players like Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Kevon Looney deserve plenty of praise too.
In classic fashion, after I spent some time working on this article yesterday I fired up Al Gore’s internet only to discover that Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are Questionable for tonight’s game. Anyways, whether they play tonight or not, it’s never a bad time to heap praise on people who are doing better!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (13-11) vs. Indiana Pacers (13-9)
WHEN: Monday, December 5th, 2022 // 7pm PDT
How Good is Wiggins?
Maybe it’s because I was a hater. Maybe I just was one of the many that lacked visionary beliefs. Whatever it was, I’ve already eaten more than my fair share of crow for not believing in Wiggins. From that old article:
…the Splash Brothers and Draymond already needed help… Even before Kevin Durant’s arrival, there were huge players, from Andrew Bogut, to Andre Iguodala, to Shaun Livingston. A lot of those guys were integral to the success of the team.
Little did I know that Andrew Wiggins would turn into exactly the sort of help that was needed. Those guys on the other end of the article saw it (as I’m frequently reminded). But because we were talking about it recently, I wanted to take the time to highlight Wiggins’s career bests.
Here’s how exactly Wiggins has improved his shooting. Everything is better for him now that he’s working within the Warriors ecosystem. When he first came to the forefront last season, it was mostly his defensive gifts that were cited. Now, Two Way Wiggs has applied himself to offense and Golden State has leaned into it. The results speak for themselves.
As always, the base data comes from basketball reference, with some handling from DNHQ, we get the following:
The highlighted box towards the right side of the graph is there to highlight the improvements made during his tenure with the Warriors. The lift in three-point percentage is particularly large. To show it another way for the visual learners in the crowd, here’s a different take on the same data:
That’ s a 19% increase in his three-point percentage, and an 8% bump overall compared to his averages in Minnesota. It’s an even more drastic improvement if you consider how well he’s shooting this season. His general field goal attempts are up at 51% this season, and his threes are at Splash Brother levels - an extremely respectable 45% on 6.8 attempts per game (both extreme career highs).
How good is Wiggins?
It’s a question that has got my brain spinning. I honestly don’t know the answer. Or perhaps the answer keeps changing. There have been plenty of players that looked fine but just couldn’t figure it out in Golden State. Wiggins isn’t one of those. He’s figured it out in Golden State, and I’ve never been so happy about being wrong. I guess he proved me wrong a while ago; now it’s just becoming a matter of how very, very wrong I was. He’s good.
Will the Warriors be short-handed against the Pacers?
In keeping with the premise that these are actually previews for every game, and not me just writing about whatever catches my attention, let’s take a look at tonight’s opponent, and what might happen to the rotation if both Wiggins and Poole can’t go. Golden State is 11-1 at home this season and is going to be highly motivated to keep that going as a strength. But if Wiggins and/or Poole can’t go, they’ll be extremely short-handed in a lot of ways.
With a roster that was already top heavy, and some development projects that are still in need of time, it’s already a little threadbare on the deep end of the Warriors bench. On a per game basis, Wiggins plays the second most minutes on the team, Poole plays the 5th most.
Fortunately, the timing is good for a couple of those developmental players mentioned earlier. Kuminga has been emerging as one of coach Steve Kerr’s bench players - appearing in almost every game since that rough initial ten game stretch to open the season.
Moody’s minutes have been much harder to come by, but after going 3 of 3 from beyond the arch on Saturday, it sounds like we might be seeing more of Moses. After the last game, he answered a question with a broader discussion about how it feels different sitting on the bench this year as compared to last season.
Kerr, for his part, praised Moody’s ability to keep grinding, saying, “Moses is just someone I believe in as a human being and he showed why tonight."
They don’t know if they’ll need them or not, but it sure is nice to know that there’s some excited players waiting on the fringes hoping to get their shot.
Home game? That’s a Warriors win. Also, I think Wiggins and Poole will both play.