The 2020-21 common season was an odd one for a lot of causes, however particularly for the Golden State Warriors. Shortly earlier than the NBA Draft, the workforce’s championship aspirations took a significant hit with the damage to Klay Thompson. The very best backcourt within the league wouldn’t be on full show this season, however they nonetheless had two-time MVP, Stephen Curry, to placed on a present.
Curry did simply that, dazzling basketball followers on a near-nightly foundation. The sensational photographs, ridiculous performs and high-drama conditions have been must-see TV that stored the Warriors within the nationwide highlight. To that finish, Curry captured the scoring title for the second time in his profession, averaging 32.0 factors per recreation this season.
Steph Curry edges out Bradley Beal to win the 2020-21 scoring title. ? pic.twitter.com/GmiTD26aJK
— theScore (@theScore) May 17, 2021
With restricted choices accessible to fill Thompson’s void, the workforce managed so as to add Kelly Oubre Jr to the roster, though it got here at a steep value. His wage is $14.4 million this season however due to Golden State’s luxurious tax invoice, ESPN’s Bobby Marks famous that including Oubre would value an extra $82.4 million, bringing their complete to $134 million.
After a profession 12 months in Phoenix, Oubre struggled mightily attempting to slot in with this group. Generally gamers in new conditions can attempt to do an excessive amount of at first, or typically go on open photographs as a way to not appear egocentric. Neither of those was the case for Oubre, who merely couldn’t put the ball within the basket. His early-season capturing struggles had the Warriors pegged for the Draft Lottery.
Oubre finally turned it round and commenced enjoying like himself. One other new face within the Bay space was rookie James Wiseman. He too struggled at the start of the season, which is to be anticipated for somebody in his state of affairs. The seven-footer from Memphis solely performed a handful of video games in faculty and was attempting to study the NBA recreation on the fly. A season-ending damage minimize quick his rookie season, however he confirmed promise for the longer term.
The longer term will not be one thing that Curry has on his thoughts. He and Draymond Inexperienced are enjoying to win now. That begins on Wednesday with their highly-anticipated showdown with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The league has fairly the matchup to cap the brand new Play-In-Match.
Amid the entire spotlight performs from Curry and the entire noise surrounding Inexperienced, one participant sits within the shadows and isn’t talked about. Andrew Wiggins was all the fashion when he was chosen primary total within the 2014 NBA Draft. The previous Kansas Jayhawk earned Rookie of the Yr honors however finally struggled to search out his place in Minneapolis.
After greater than 5 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wiggins was traded to the Warriors in February of final season. Now having performed a full season in a Warriors uniform, Wiggins could possibly be their x-factor within the postseason.
One of many knocks on Wiggins has all the time been his drive, and his ardour to achieve his full potential. He has the entire bodily instruments and attributes to be some of the prolific two-way gamers within the league. Generally the hassle simply isn’t there, however that narrative appears to have gone out the window. Wiggins has been enjoying wonderful on each ends of the ground, which has translated to wins for the depleted Warriors.
Whereas many individuals level to his scoring barely declining, he nonetheless scored 19 factors per recreation regardless of enjoying the fewest minutes of his profession. He completed inside the highest 40 in scoring this season. The actual story for Wiggins is his effectivity, which has been unimaginable. He shot a career-high 48 p.c from the ground this season and a career-best 38 p.c from three-point vary. His 54 p.c efficient discipline aim share can also be the best of his profession.
Andrew Wiggins is gonna finish the common season averaging ~19 & 5 on 48/38/72 capturing.
Missed only one recreation, and that was for relaxation. Was great defensively, night time in and night time out.
He’s had a terrific 12 months.
— Brian Witt (@Wittnessed) May 16, 2021
As they put together to battle the Lakers for the seventh seed within the Western Convention, Golden State should discover methods to get stops on the defensive finish. Stopping the likes of James, Davis and Dennis Schroder on the perimeter might be paramount to their success. It’s simpler stated than executed, however that is the place Wiggins’ worth will be felt. The Toronto native might be known as upon to match up in opposition to James usually, with Inexperienced defending their huge males.
Wiggins completed fourth in Defensive RPM (2.72) this season at his place, 21st among all players in the league. That’s by far one of the best of his profession, as he ranked eighty fifth final season amongst small forwards. He additionally completed contained in the top five in the league in terms of contested three-point shots. That’s essential for the Warriors going ahead, ought to they face the Phoenix Suns or Utah Jazz within the first spherical. Utah was the highest three-point capturing workforce within the league and Phoenix was seventh-best when it comes to share.
As if going through James and Davis weren’t tough sufficient, the Warriors can have their arms full irrespective of which opponent they face subsequent. Each have dynamic backcourts with Mike Conley/Donovan Mitchell in Utah and Chris Paul/Devin Booker in Phoenix. Wiggins might be tasked with attempting to gradual them down as properly. There may be elite expertise all over the place you look out West.
Golden State completed the common season with a 110.1 defensive score, which was high 5 within the league. They managed to do this regardless of having a depleted roster and having the third-highest tempo (102.2) within the league. A lot of the credit score will go to Inexperienced and Oubre however Wiggins has been a significant component of their defensive schemes.
Curry and Inexperienced have mixed to play in 235 playoff video games throughout their careers. Wiggins has solely appeared in 5 playoff video games, so this might be a brand new expertise for him. The strain all the time goes up within the postseason, and the Play-In Match is not any exception.
Shortly after buying Wiggins, Steve Kerr put All-Protection expectations on him. “Defensively, we are going to ask him to tackle the problem of what that place entails. Guarding among the finest gamers within the league and adapting to our schemes and terminology.” To his credit score, Wiggins has executed simply that.
Wiggins is not going to win the NBA’s Most Improved Participant Award this season. He isn’t going to win the Defensive Participant of the Yr both. Whereas these accolades matter to a variety of gamers, Wiggins is simply targeted on bettering and successful video games. The Warriors hope to do the identical as they return to postseason play.