In a season critical to determining his future with the team, WarriorsWorld is spending the first few games of the 2020-21 NBA campaign watching Andrew Wiggins. As part of The Wiggins Watch series, writer Jesse Taylor is watching Wiggins, and only Wiggins, for an entire game on both ends of the floor and writing about his observations. This is game #2 on December 25 at Milwaukee.
The Andrew Wiggins Watch: Game 1 at Brooklyn, December 22
With great power comes no responsibility if you don’t actually use your power.
A radioactive spider bite doesn’t make Peter Parker Spider-Man if he doesn’t love climbing up the side of buildings and saving people’s lives.
What good is Andrew Wiggins’ power if he doesn’t like basketball very much. Okay, maybe he likes basketball a little, but he definitely doesn’t seem to possess any kind of love or passion for the game.
His dad played in the NBA. His two older brothers played college basketball. He’s 6-foot-7 with physical gifts similar to Dominique Wilkins and Vince Carter, so maybe he’s felt he’s always had to play basketball even though he never liked it much.
Maybe Andrew Wiggins just wants to be a dancer or an accountant, but life has led him to the NBA. And this is just a job to him. He’s that dude at work who does enough to get by, but nothing more, because he really doesn’t care.
After a horrendous start to the season where it didn’t look like Wiggins could play much worse, he came back in Game 2 on Christmas Day and played … about the same? He followed a 13-point (4-16 FG, 2-6 3FG), two rebound and poor defensive game against the Nets with a 12-point (6-18 FG, 0-4 3FG), six rebound and poor defensive game against the Bucks.
I’m seeing obvious trends after two games. On defense, he doesn’t fight through screens very well, which led to his man getting to the basket a few times. He also tends to lose focus while playing defense off the ball, not helping or switching at the right times. Or he just let’s his man easily back him into the lane for an easy layup, like the smaller Jrue Holiday did near the end of the first quarter to give the Bucks an 8-point lead.
Wiggins has the ability to drive to the basket with ease and finish strong. But through the first two games he’s done this few and far between. About twice a game. Like Wilkins or Carter, he has the ability to posterize people at will. But unlike those two, he doesn’t do it. His tendency is to follow a strong driving by settling for a 3-pointer or long jumper the next time he touches the ball – like the office worker who does just enough to show you he can do his job. “See, I can drive to the basket and score. Now let me settle for jumpers that rarely go in.”
A series of plays spanning the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second sum up Wiggins’ game. He makes a weak drive to the basket and tosses the ball high off the backboard as it misses badly with 1:43 left in the quarter. With under a minute to play, he lets Holiday drive in on him, as mentioned above. Down 33-25, Wiggins takes a lazy 3-pointer that misses badly as the quarter ends. As the leader of the second unit with Steph Curry resting, he opens the second quarter guarding the smaller Donte DiVincenzo, who immediately drives right by Wiggins for an easy layup. Less than a minute later, Wiggins misses a layup, gets his own rebound and is blocked on the put-back attempt. After a set play at the 10:30 mark where Wiggins easily posts up and scores over DiVincenzo, he settles for a corner 3-pointer on the next possession and misses. He follows that with a similar set of plays: he drives strong passed Khris Middleton for a layup and immediately follows that by settling for a bad 3-pointer, which he misses.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
In the third quarter with the Warriors still in the game, Wiggins follows his pattern again. He grabs a rebound off a Paschall missed jumper and puts it in, and takes a bad three on the next possession. But he answers with a strong finger roll layup at the 8:39 mark to cut the Bucks lead to eight at 72-64. He doesn’t score for the rest of the game while helping the Bucks go on a run by committing an unforced turnover off a sloppy dribble and not rotating back on defense. The latter leads to a Middleton fast break that Wiggins is forced to foul from behind on for two FTs. A Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk completes an 8-0 run to give Milwaukee an 80-64 lead and they never looked back from there.
Wiggins had an ugly two minutes in the fourth quarter with the game already decided. After settling for a jumper, he lets the smaller Bryn Forbes hit a three over him for a 30-point Bucks lead. He follows that with a sloppy drive that misses badly. And later, with the 6-foot-2 Forbes guarding him in the post, Wiggins bypasses the easy post-up to pass out to Jordan Poole, who misses a 28-footer that leads to a Milwaukee 3-pointer and 33-point lead. Like all of us, Kerr has seen enough and takes Wiggins out for the rest of the game.
I was planning to run “The Andrew Wiggins Watch” for at least five games. But I’m really not sure it’s relevant at this point. I’ll give it one more game tomorrow against the Bulls and then decide to either pull the trigger and move to James Wiseman. I write about basketball for fun. Two games in, this has not been fun.