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 #4 on December 29 at Detroit.
The Andrew Wiggins Watch: Game 1 at Brooklyn, December 22
The Andrew Wiggins Watch: Game 2 at Milwaukee, December 25
The Andrew Wiggins Watch: Game 3 at Chicago, December 27
Through a small sample size of four games, here’s what we know about Andrew Wiggins. In the first two games, on national TV against title contenders in the Nets and Bucks, Wiggins looked and played about as bad as he could, and looked like he had no passion for the game. In games 3 & 4 against two teams likely to be fighting each other for the title of “Least in the East,” Wiggins displayed an ability to be the team’s second-best player behind Steph Curry. When he puts in the proper effort, he has the talent to potentially help lead the Warriors into the 2021 playoffs.
Bottom line: If Wiggins plays like he did in the first two games, the Warriors don’t have much of a chance to make the playoffs. If he plays like he did in the last two, they do.
What we do know is, at this point in his career, he will likely never reach the full expectations he had on draft night in 2014 as the #1 overall pick. What we will probably never know, since he is not one to express his thoughts or feelings publicly, is how much he even likes the game. What the Warriors need to find out this season is if he likes it enough to put in the effort he did against the Pistons and Bulls, and if he is confident enough to do it against the league’s best teams on a national stage.
At least for one night, Wiggins gave the Warriors hope, scoring a season-high 27 points (9-19 FG, 5-8 3FG, 4-4 FT) with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks and a +/- of +19 in 38 minutes – including 17 points in all 12 minutes of a mostly close 4th quarter. Looking at his plays that made an impact, and being more conservative when compared Tony tallies in game #3, I counted 16 good plays for Wiggins compared to just 3 bad plays. Let’s get into the details.
First Quarter: 5 points (2-4 FG, 1-2 3FG), 1 rebound, 1 assist, +/- of -3 in 8 minutes; 3 good plays and 1 bad
Wiggins starts at small forward and is guarded by Jerami Grant after James Wiseman wins the tip. On defense he also guards Grant and comes off several screens to stay with him, with Wiseman a little late helping on a Mason Plumlee screen at the top of the key. But Wiseman’s length and outstretched hands help distract Grant and he misses.
With the Warriors up 4-3, Wiggins comes off a Curry backscreen at the top of the key and bangs in an open three. 7-3 Warriors at the 9:37 mark. Good
Coming off a Kevon Looney wing screen, Wiggins takes a pass from Curry and curls into the lane, side-stepping Plumlee, but getting caught from behind by Grant who blocks his layup attempt off the backboard at the 9:08 mark. (1-2 FG for Wiggins).
On the next possession down, off the ball Wiggins lets Grant slip by him to the rim. Plumlee finds Grant under the rim, who has to pump fake and dribble to create space on Wiggins. Grant then goes up with a close range fadeaway shot, but Wiggins gets a piece of it, blocking the shot (good) and going coast to coast in transition. He finishes the play by doing … I have no idea what he was doing. Maybe trying to pass to Kelly Oubre Jr. in the corner? Dish underneath to a cutting Juan Toscano-Anderson? Or go up for a layup attempt on Blake Griffin? Whatever it was, it was ugly. After two steps, Wiggins flings the ball into the air and it’s deflected by Josh Jackon (bad). Toscano-Anderson’s hustle gets the ball back for the Warriors and it results in Oubre hitting his first 3-pointer of the season after starting 0-17 from behind the arc for a 10-5 Warriors lead.
After a Pistons basket, Wiggins receives the ball in the corner from Toscano-Anderson. In triple-threat position, one-on-one against Grant, he hesitates and pump fakes, then takes Grant baseline. It looks like it might be another awkward Wiggins layup attempt, but after two left-handed dribbles to the rim Wiggins goes up strong with his right hand and banks it off the glass into the hoop with Grant contesting at the rim. 12-7 Warriors 7:55 left in the first.Good
Guarding Grant at the top of the key, Wiggins offers Toscano-Anderson help on Griffin and tips the ball as Griffin passes to Grant. Grant still ends up with the ball and drives down the middle on Wiggins. Staying with Grant, Wiggins gets help from Looney to force a miss.
With the Warriors up 12-10, Jackson drives on Toscano-Anderson. Guarding Grant on the wing, Wiggins is a bit late stepping in to help on Jackson, hesitating a bit as Jackson drives into the lane, and doesn’t offer much help defense. Jackson is fouled by Toscano-Anderson and makes the shot to give the Pistons their first lead at 13-12 at 6:07. Wiggins checks out for Mychal Mulder at 5:07 and the Warriors leading 14-13. He returns for Oubre at the 1:50 mark and the Warriors down 21-20.
Down 25-21, in transition, Wiggins takes a pass from Curry on the wing and has an open look at three but is off the mark. To his credit, he hustles back on defense, showing some of his mom’s world-class sprinter speed and knocks the ball out of Sekou Doumbouya’s hands on a play that would have been an easy dunk. Still 25-21 with 39.1 seconds left in the quarter. No “Good/bad” rating for either of these plays because he missed on what was a good shot and then should have ran back to contest on defense.
Second Quarter: 4 points (2-5 FG, 1-1 3FG), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, +/- of +4 in 9 minutes; 5 good plays and 1 bad
As usual, Wiggins opens the quarter as the leader of the second unit with Curry on the bench. They open in a zone defense and Wiggins guards Saddiq Bey at the top of the key; Wiggins plays good defense as Bey drives to the basket and misses.
On offense, he drives on three Pistons, jumps in the air and looks to drop off to Looney, but he’s guarded, so Wiggins changes the course of his pass. He tooses it out to Jordan Poole, but it’s easily intercepted by Derrick Rose (bad). Stopped in transition, Detroit sets up their offense and Wiggins ends up guarding Rose who drives to the rim. Wiggins stays with Rose and blocks his shot off the backboard (good).
Wiggins is not involved in any of the plays as the Pistons go on a 11-2 run for a 38-26 lead. To stop the run, Wiggins tries to change the tone and gets aggressive. He takes a pass in the corner, goes around Griffin and goes up strong for a dunk attempt on center Isaiah Stewart (good). It doesn’t go in, but that’s what you want to see from Wiggins, opposed to a soft pump-fake layup. Whether it was related to this play or not, from that point on, the Warriors seemed to have a different mindset in the game, becoming more aggressive. It’s one of the few times a player can achieve a good rating for a missed shot.
Down 38-28, Wiggins is posted up by Griffin. He plays him well and appears to stay vertical, but Griffin gets the foul call as he misses a layup after a nice pump fake. After two FTs, it’s 40-28 Pistons with 8:26 left in the half.
Wiggins misses a layup as he drives down the middle of the lane, but the rebound goes out to Damion Lee who hits a three. 40-31 at the 8:04 mark. Wiggins later misses an open step-back jumper in transition.
Down 40-33, Wiggins grabs a defensive rebound off an airball and takes the ball all the way down the court, crossing over Killian Hayes and skying in for a two-handed dunk when no one steps in to stop him (good). 40-35 at the 6:40 mark.
In his first successful drive and kick of the game, Wiggins makes a crossover dribble, then drives down the center of the lane to attract three Pistons defenders before dishing off to Wiseman (good). After a nice spin move, Wiseman misses the close-range shot, but stays with it, accidentally elbowing Griffin as it goes out of bounds off Detroit. Griffin will later leave the game and not return due to concussion protocol. Wiggins checks out for Curry at the 6:04 mark down 40-35. He returns at the 3:32 mark down 47-37.
With the shot clock winding down, Plumlee shoots a three as Wiggins does a good job blocking out Grant and grabbing the defensive rebound. On the Pistons’ next possession, Wiggins flies out on an open Griffin, who subsequently passes up what would have been an open three to Jackson, who misses his three. His hustle results in him making an open corner three on a drive-and-kick from Toscano-Anderson to cut Detroit’s lead to 47-40 with 2:32 left (good).
Wiggins checks out with 24.8 seconds left down 51-45.
Wiggins ends the first half with 10 points (4-9 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and a +/- of 1 in 17 minutes, with 8 good plays and 2.
Third Quarter: 0 points (0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, +/- of +9 in 8 minutes; 2 good plays and 1 bad
After the Warriors tie it at 53, Wiggins picks up a loose ball off an Oubre steal but loses it in transition trying to pass up to Curry for an unforced turnover that leads to 1-2 FTs for Plumlee (bad).
On the next possession, his 3-point attempt is blocked by Grant.
Standing next to Toscano-Anderson, who receives a pass at the top of the key, Wiggins sees Curry coming up from the baseline and quickly goes down to set a screen on Curry’s man. This sets up an open Curry three to give the Warriors a 56-54 lead at the 9:01 mark (good).
Wiggins misses a fadeaway jumper at the top of the key at the 8:05 mark. He leaves for Mulder at the 5:49 mark with the Warriors up 65-56. He returns with the score 70-66 with 2:06 left in the quarter.
He plays good defense on Rose, who misses a floater at the 1:16 mark and the Warriors up 72-69. However, on a later possession, he has a chance to step in the lane and help Looney on a Grant drive, but stays outside the lane and Grants makes a layup to cut Golden State’s lead to 75-73 with 37.8 seconds left.
He finishes what had been a quiet quarter by breaking up a potential Pistons fast break by tapping it away from Svi Mykhailiuk. This breaks up a potential Pistons layup to end the quarter that would have extended Detroit’s lead (good). Instead, Mykhailiuk fouls Looney who hits two FTs for a 77-76 Warriors lead.
Fourth Quarter: 17 points (5-8 FG, 3-4 3FG, 4-4 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, +/- of +9 in 12 minutes; 6 good plays and 0 bad
Wiggins opens the quarter with Curry sitting and misses a step-back jumper. He blocks Jackson’s shot on the next possession, which leads to an Eric Paschall transition basket for a 79-76 lead.
Wiggins makes a side-stepping drive and his layup is blocked by Jackson, but he’s bailed out with a foul call. He hits both FTs for an 81-78 lead at 10:37.
After Detroit takes back the lead, Wiggins uses a Paschall screen at the top of the key to drive aggressively into the lane on three Pistons defenders. He goes up strong, then extends and adjusts to a scooping layup at the rim to tie the game at 83 (good).
Down three, Wiggins misses a turnaround layup after splitting the double team, but grabs the loose ball rebound and drains a step-back corner three (good). This makes it 89-89 with 7:41 left and is the beginning of a 12-0 Warriors run.
On Detroit’s next possession, Wiggins switches off his man, fights through a screen and contests a 3-point attempt by Mykhailiuk, who misses (good). This leads to a Wanamaker floater to give the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish.
Wiggins follows a Wanamaker steal by calmly hitting an open elbow jumper.
After “THE AMAZING” Wiseman block and coast-to-coast dunk, Wiggins drains a three in transition off a Plumlee miss to cap the 12-0 run that he started and ended. The run ends on a Grant drive and dunk that Wiggins could have done a bit better stepping into the lane and helping out on. But he follows by coming off a Wiseman screen to get the ball and then using a Wanamaker screen to hit a nice-looking step-back three (good), giving him 15 points in less than seven minutes for the quarter and the Warriors first double-digit lead at 101-91.
Wiggins play has allowed Curry to rest until the 4:48 mark of the quarter.
With Wanamaker taking the ball in on the baseline coming out of a timeout, Wiggins curls around three screens to get by Grant and nearly dunks it, but is fouled at the rim. He hits both FTs for a 103-93 lead at the 4:47 mark for his final points of the game at 27.
After a Curry three, Wiggins misses a three on the next possession with 3:59 left.
Up 10, Wiggins guards Rose in transition, who pulls up and nails a three over the defending Wiggins. After a Curry offensive foul, Wiggins guards Rose again. He plays aggressive defense, jumping to stop a shot as Rose pump fakes and then goes back up. Wiggins quickly recovers and nearly blocks the shot as Rose adjusts and passes to Stewart, who makes the layup and cuts the lead to 108-103 with 1:42 left. This is a good defensive play by Wiggins despite the Rose assist.
After a Lee made three, Wiggins fights through a screen on Rose and jumps to block his mid-range jumper (good), essentially sealing the game at that point. 111-103 with 1:14 left. It leads to Curry getting fouled on a three in transition.