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 #5 on January 1 vs. Portland.
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
The Andrew Wiggins Watch: Game 4 at Detroit, December 29
Andrew Wiggins. Is he good? Bad? Basic? Game #5 leaves us with more questions than answers.
After two bad games and two good games to start the season, Wiggins played half a good game and half a bad game in game 5 to keep us guessing. He was non-existent in the first and third quarters, seeming to have trouble figuring out how to fit into an offense featuring Draymond Green. The same can be said for the coaching staff. Wiggins had just two drive and kick opportunities in the entire game, after making that a regular, and successful, occurrence in previous games.
While Portland torched the Warriors defense throughout the game, Wiggins deserves credit for playing one of the few (only?) good defensive games on the team. But whether you blame him or the coaching staff, he first and third quarter disappearing acts were inexcusable.
He finished behind Steph Curry as the team’s second leading scorer, putting up 15 points (5-12 FG, 1-3 3FG, 4-7 FT) with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers and a +/- of -26 in 32 minutes. On plays that made an impact, I counted 13 good plays for Wiggins compared to 9 bad plays. Let’s get into the details.
First Quarter: 0 points (0-3 FG), no other stats except +/- of -10 in 7 minutes; 1 good play and 3 bad
Wiggins opens the game at small forward and grabs the ball off the tip from James Wiseman. He’s guarded by C.J. McCollum and picks him up on the other end as well.
Wiggins touches the ball for the first time on the Warriors second possession, taking a pass from Green at the top of the right wing with 16 seconds on the shot clock. A series of back screens and off-ball movements from his teammates clear the lane as Wiggins takes McCollum to the basket. McCollum plays Wiggins well as Wiggins drives to the left side of the rim, comes back with his right hand at the rim and can’t get a clean enough shot, missing on an awkward layup attempt that is lucky to hit rim. Bad
With the Warriors up 4-3, Wiggins picks up Damian Lillard in transition. He fights through a Jusuf Nurkic screen to contest Lillard’s three-pointer and Lillard misses. Good
After the Trail Blazers drain three threes to go up 12-4, Wiggins takes a pass at the top of the key from Kelly Oubre Jr. coming off two screens from Curry and Wiseman. Wiseman comes up to set a screen pitting Wiggins against Nurkic in a pick-and-roll. Guarded well, but with just five seconds on the shot clock, Wiggins stops at the rim, pivots and forces a one-handed turnaround layup over Nurkic that has no chance. Wiggins is now 0-2 from the field on two less than stellar shots. Bad Portland tips it out of bounds on the rebound attempt, so the Warriors maintain possession with 8:09 left in the quarter and Curry hits a three, so the play wasn’t detrimental.
On the next possession, down 12-7, the Blazers set up a play for McCollum forcing Wiggins to defend through two screens. McCollum starts in one corner, pops up the wing on a screen to take a pass from Lillard, then tosses it right back and runs through a Nurkic screen to the opposite corner and gets the ball back on a touch pass from Lillard. Wiggins gets slowed down on the Nurkic screen, wrongly goes in to the lane as McCollum grabs the pass, turns and drains a wide-open corner three at the 7:40 mark. Bad
Wiggins is being challenged on defense with McCollum and Nurkic pick-and-rolls. He and Wiseman both pop out on McCollum as Nurkic rolls and takes the pass. Green is in great position to help on Nurkic, but he still hits a tough shot in the lane for a 17-7 Blazers lead.
Coming out of a timeout, the Warriors set the inbounds play for Wiggins, who curls in the lane off a Wiseman screen. He creates space from McCollum on the dribble, but misses an open floater. Checks out with 6:20 left and the Warriors down 20-7. He returns at the 2:10 mark, the Warriors now down 18, 31-13, guarding Rodney Hood while Kent Bazemore checks McCollum. He’s not part of any action in the final two minutes of the quarter that ends with the Warriors down 36-21.
One of Wiggins’ best weapons to open the season, the drive and kick, was neutralized in the quarter (and not by the Blazers) as he had no opportunities. It could have been the result of Green’s return and less touches for Wiggins.
Second Quarter: 10 points (4-5 FG, 1-2 3FG, 1-2 FT), 1 rebound, 1 block, +/- of +1 in 9 minutes; 7 good plays and 2 bad
With Curry on the bench, the Warriors open with Wiggins, Brad Wanamaker, Damion Lee, Eric Paschall and Mychal Mulder. Wiggins is immediately posted up by Carmelo Anthony, who easily gets in the lane and hits a turnaround jumper and is fouled by Wiggins to open the quarter with a 3-point play. 39-21. Bad
Playing zone, Wiggins picks up Lillard at the top of the key. After a pass to Anfernee Simons, Wiggins hustles over and contests his three and it misses. Good He hits an open three on the next possession after a Paschall drive and kick. 41-29 Blazers, 10:38 left.
Back on defense, and in a zone again, Wiggins plays the top of the key defensive role well, hustling between Lillard and Anthony to disrupt Melo’s three, forcing a miss. Good This leads to a Paschall jumper and cuts the Blazers lead in half to 10.
Back to man defense, Wiggins makes his third consecutive strong defensive play, helping out as Simons cuts back door, getting a hand on the layup to force the miss. Good This leads to two Wanamaker FTs and the Warriors cut it to eight, 41-33 with 9:47 left.
The Warriors can never trim the lead lower than eight for the rest of the game.
After contesting a made Simons three, Wiggins comes back to hit a turnaround step-back to make the score 47-35 Blazers with 8:33 left.
In a busy 2-minute stretch before checking out, Wiggins attacks the lane in transition and forces a foul on Simons, going 1-2 from the line (50-36 Blazers). Good Back in the zone, Wiggins guards Simons the full length of the court and sprints over to Robert Covington on his 3-point attempt and it misses. Good
In transition, he nearly air balls an open catch-and-shoot three, then turns it over on his first drive and kick of the game. Bad This came with the Warriors down 52-36 at the 5:52 mark, as he came off a Wiseman pick and roll, but forced a bad pass to Curry in the corner. It was a play that appeared to have been scouted well by the Blazers, after so many drive and kicks by Wiggins in previous games. After a defensive stop, Wiggins takes a pass from Lee in transition and goes into the lane on Simons and Nurkic. To avoid the taller Nurkic, Wiggins makes a nice up-and-under move to finish a layup on the other side of the rim. Good
Green checks in for Wiggins at the 5:19 mark with Portland leading 54-38. He comes back at 3:01down 59-44.
Wiggins finishes an 8-0 Warriors run by sneaking around Lillard on a deep Curry three that misses, but Wiggins times the rebound to softly dunk it in to make it 61-53 with 58 seconds left in the half. Good
After a rough first quarter, Wiggins is the Warriors best player in the second quarter and helps keep them in the game. He ends the half with an efficient 10 points (4-8 FG, 1-2 3FG, 1-2 FT) and strong defense. He also had 1 rebound and 1 block with a +/- of -9 and 8 good plays and 5 bad.
Third Quarter: 0 points (0-1 FG) and no other stats except 1 turnover with a +/- of -5 in 6 minutes; 1 good play and 2 bad
Wiggins opens the half on McCollum, fighting through multiple screens before contesting a made turnaround step-back by McCollum. Good defense, better shot. After setting an off-ball screen for Curry, Wiggins rolls to the basket and fumbles a pass from Green that Nurkic picks up as Wiggins falls to the ground. Bad It leads to an open Covington three in transition and a 72-55 Portland lead.
Guarding McCollum in a pick and roll with Enes Kanter, Wiggins and Wisemen stay with McCollum, playing excellent defense and both contest his layup attempt with Wiseman recording the block at the 7:49 mark. Good Leads to an Oubre transition dunk.
After the Warriors cut the lead to nine, Wiggins picks up Lillard at the top of the key and can’t get through a Kanter screen. Lillard’s threes gives Portland a cushion at 79-67. Wiseman sagged way too far back on the pick and roll, leaving Lillard too much space.
Down 81-69, Wiggins posts up off a back screen from Curry, takes the pass and shoots an off-balance turn-around step-back that misses badly. Bad Leads to a dunk on the other end.
Wiggins checks out at 5:37 with the Warriors down 86-69 and doesn’t return in the quarter.
Fourth Quarter: 5 points (1-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 3-5 FT), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, +/- of -12 in 8 minutes; 4 good plays and 2 bad
Down 18, Wiggins opens the fourth with a missed jumper, but plays good defense on a missed Anthony post-up step-back.
Now down 21 after Wiggins watches his second-unit teammates turn it over and get rejected by a non-jumping Anthony, Wiggins drives baseline and aggressively takes it at Nurkic to force a foul. Good He misses both FTs. Bad
Still down 21, Wiggins slowly takes a defensive rebound all the way up court, lulls Portland’s defense to sleep (or maybe they didn’t really care since they were up 21) and makes and “and-1” finger roll layup, making his FT this time. Good
He later makes a nice drive and kick to Wanamaker who loses the ball, then Wiggins misses an open three with the Warriors down 20 at the 7:23 mark.
At the 6:42 mark, instead of subbing out Wiggins so I can stop tracking this horrendous game, Steve Kerry brings three of his starters back in the game, I guess to see if they can make a final run. They don’t.
Wiggins does make a nice move to the basket once his better teammates join him on the floor, hanging in the air and picking up the foul. Good He hits both FTs.
Lillard hits a long three over Wiggins on the next possession. 108-87 Blazers. He then travels on a drive and kick from Curry by moving his pivot foot back. Bad
Down 30, Wiggins blocks a Keljin Blevins layup attempt the same way a grown-up blocks a 5-year-old’s shot in nerf hoop. So I guess that gets a good? Good
Kerr finally takes the starters out after a scary Wiseman ankle roll.