Andrew Wiggins

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Game 6, Looney, Thompson

Andrew Wiggins shined at the right time for the Warriors in their second-round series against the Grizzlies, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic writes. Wiggins had a strong showing in Game 6, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He also made some key shots down the stretch.

“I believed in him from the jump,” teammate Klay Thompson said of Wiggins. “When he was with Minnesota, it was tough because to shoulder the load so much. Now with us, he can kind of be himself and play to his strengths and he was huge for us tonight.”

Wiggins was named an All-Star this season for the first time in his career. He averaged 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in the series against Memphis, shooting 47% from the field. Golden State will need his production when it plays Phoenix or Dallas in the Western Conference Finals next round.

Here are some other Warriors-related notes:

  • Along with Wiggins, big man Kevon Looney also had an impressive performance in Game 6, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Slater believes Looney had the best game of his career. In 35 minutes, he pulled down 22 rebounds and dished out five assists, controlling the interior. After being out-rebounded 55-37 in Game 5, the Warriors won the rebound battle 70-44 in Game 6 — and Looney is a big reason why. The 26-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • After rehabbing a torn ACL and torn Achilles tendon, Klay Thompson has mastered the work-life balance, Mark Medina of NBA.com writes. Thompson, a nine-year NBA veteran, missed the entire 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons due to the rehab. “Balance is key, even during this time with the emotional roller coaster of the playoffs,” he explained. “Whether it’s reading or taking a walk with your dog or a boat ride or a bike ride. I try to think of simple things that keep me happy.”
  • “Game 6 Klay” also returned for the Warriors on Friday, Marcus Thompson II explores for The Athletic. Thompson poured in 30 points, shooting 11-of-22 from the floor and 8-of-14 from deep. He has had some historic Game 6 performances in the past, including 41 points against the Thunder in 2016, 35 points against the Rockets in 2018 and 30 points against the Raptors in 2019, as noted in the story.

Warriors Notes: Poole, Porter, Kuminga, Wiggins

Before the controversy over Ja Morant‘s injured knee that dominated the postgame talk after Saturday’s GrizzliesWarriors game, there was already a strong focus on his matchup with Jordan Poole, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. After three days of hearing questions about his defense following Morant’s 47-point explosion in Game 2, Poole responded by taking the ball at Morant repeatedly Saturday night.

Both players were selected in the 2019 draft, but while Morant was the second pick and his path to stardom was quick, Poole was taken at No. 28 and had to live with an early label of being a bust before proving that he can play. He welcomes the opportunity to measure himself against Morant, Thompson writes, and he responded to a challenge laid down by his veteran teammates to keep competing no matter how many times he’s targeted on defense.

“It’s going to keep happening,” Stephen Curry said. “Whether it’s me, him, whoever. That’s the nature of the playoffs. But you just have to take that challenge seriously. You have to have some pride around it, knowing that they are trying to put you in the actions for a reason. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get a stop every time. It just means you did your job.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • The team’s most important offseason addition has turned out to be Otto Porter, who signed a veteran’s minimum contract last summer, according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Porter’s numbers — 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots — didn’t stand out on Saturday, but he was plus-30 in 24 minutes of action and ranks second on the team at plus-76 in the playoffs. According to Kawakami, Golden State tried to sign Patty Mills and Nicolas Batum to a mid-level deal last summer, but turned to Porter when Mills and Batum chose other teams.
  • Rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga was the newest member of the starting lineup Saturday night, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Coach Steve Kerr wants to keep Poole in a reserve role and there are spacing issues when Kevon Looney plays alongside Draymond Green, so Kerr opted for Kuminga, who scored 18 points and matched up well when he was switched onto Morant.
  • Andrew Wiggins set a personal playoff record with 15 points in the first half Saturday, adding another dimension to the Warriors’ potent offense, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “That’s what we’ve been asking Wiggs to do all year … put your head down and get to the hole,” Green said. “It’s very hard to stop him from getting to the basket. It’s bigger than just dunks. The way he’s been rebounding and the physicality that he’s been playing with and boxing out … he’s been doing an incredible job no matter who he gets matched up on.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, McGee, Wiggins, Moon, Ranadive

The Suns were an NBA-best 64-18 during the regular season and are currently up 2-0 in their second-round series against Dallas. After Phoenix lost to Milwaukee in the Finals last season, it would have been easy to have a letdown, but Devin Booker says he’s driven to help the Suns win their first championship.

I have shifted that energy from losing the Finals in a good way,” Booker told Marc J. Spears of Andscape. “It’s a good segue in the locker room to talk about and motivate. We talk about the details of the game. Even [the Pelicans’ series], offensive rebounding doesn’t sit with us well because it’s the reason why we lost [games]. Winning a championship is something I want more than anything in my life.

“… I dreamed about [the Finals] as a kid. But now it’s a reality and I have to make it happen.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Cydney Henderson of USA Today details JaVale McGee‘s evolution into a valuable role player for three championship teams — and possibly a fourth, if the Suns win the title. The backup center believes he was the missing piece to Phoenix’s championship puzzle. “They were the best team last year, they just lost in the Finals,” said McGee. “They need one more piece and I’m that piece. I feel it, this that year.”
  • Andrew Wiggins is thriving in his new role as a small-ball power forward for the Warriors, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. “I mean, it’s not easy, obviously,” Wiggins said, “because 99 percent of the time, I’m smaller. But I feel like I’m just as strong and athletic as anyone else. I love fighting with guys. I love the physicality down there. I feel like it just gets you going. You gotta wake up for this. You can’t just ease into it. If you ease into it, those guys are gonna push you under the rim and bury you.”
  • Xavier Moon, who finished the season on a two-way contract with the Clippers, said in an interview with Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times that he’s going to work on getting stronger this summer in an effort to stick in the NBA. “Just my body. Improving my body, getting stronger, obviously add a little weight and that will help with every aspect of my game and other than that just being a student of the game, just learning to be an NBA point guard, facilitating and knowing when and where to score,” Moon said.
  • Can Kings owner Vivek Ranadive learn from his meddling mistakes of the past and let GM Monte McNair make the final call on the team’s new head coach? James Ham of The Kings Beat explores that question and delves into Ranadive’s history of involvement in prior front office/coaching moves.

California Notes: Fox, Sabonis, Clippers, Wiggins, Gasol

With a 27-49 record, the Kings are on track to miss any kind of NBA postseason for the 16th straight year. Sacramento currently sits at the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference, 4.5 games behind the tenth-seeded Spurs for a chance at a play-in tournament appearance. As the team’s opportunity to qualify for the play-in slips away, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee wonders if top scorers De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will return to the hardwood this year.

The Kings have just six games left on their schedule for the 2021/22 NBA season. Fox has missed the club’s last five games with right hand soreness, while Sabonis has sat for the last three due to a left knee bone bruise.

“Well, we’ll see,” interim head coach Alvin Gentry commented on the two Kings veterans’ availability this year. “They’re working out every day and they’re trying to get to the point where they can come back and play, so we won’t know that. It’s a day-by-day thing. I don’t know any other way to answer it but that. … Fox is on the [team’s current road] trip with us. He’s spending a lot of time working out and trying to see where it takes him.” 

There’s more out of California:

  • Prior to Paul George‘s return to the floor tonight against the Jazz, the Clippers have had to handle the majority of their NBA season without George or his fellow All-Star Kawhi Leonard, writes Mark Medina of NBA.com. Including tonight, George will have missed 49 of L.A.’s 76 games thus far this season, while Kawhi hasn’t played at all. The team has held steady without George and Leonard, and seems to have a firm grip on the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 36-39 record as of this writing. “We’re building that foundation and culture that we can win, no matter who’s on the floor,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “I think we’ve taken on that mentality.” A midseason team meeting helped steady the Clippers’ resolve. Veterans Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson were particularly vocal during the team discussion, Medina reveals. Lue has been open to experimenting with his players this season, opting to employ 24 unique starting lineups so far.
  • After making the first All-Star team — and first All-Star start — of his NBA career, Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins has failed to step up as a scorer with his starrier veteran teammates sidelined or playing hurt, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Instead, Wiggins has regressed. During a recent five-game road trip, the Warriors went 1-4, and Wiggins failed to take on more of the scoring load. He averaged 16.6 PPG on 41.1% field goal shooting, and coughed up the ball 2.4 times a night. “We expected more out of everybody,” starting center Kevon Looney said of the team’s performance. “I wouldn’t just put it all on him… We all had some plays and some things we would want to do better in that game, so I wouldn’t just put it on [Wiggins].”
  • During a conversation on The Old Man And The Three with J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter podcast, retired six-time All-Star big man Pau Gasol said that he is weighing the possibility of an off-court position with the Warriors“I’m exploring a potential role with a team,” Gasol said. “I’ve been going a little bit under the radar with the Warriors, and they’ve kind of opened their doors for me to come in and be part of meetings, see the guys a little bit, and talk to some of the guys.” In a legendary 18-year NBA career, the seven-footer suited up for the Grizzlies, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs and Bucks. Gasol appeared in three NBA Finals and won two titles with the Lakers.

Warriors Notes: Wiseman, Poole, Wiggins, Thompson

Warriors center James Wiseman returned to the court on Thursday for the first time in 11 months, playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League after recovering from a pair of procedures on his knee. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes, Wiseman had to shake off some rust, but had a productive outing, scoring 18 points and grabbing six rebounds in just 21 minutes.

According to Slater, the plan is for Wiseman to review film of the game on Friday, practice with Santa Cruz on Saturday, and play in another G League contest on Sunday. After that, Golden State will determine whether or not he’s ready to make his NBA return.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Jordan Poole‘s dagger three-pointers in the final minute of the Warriors’ Thursday win over Denver was the latest example of the 22-year-old’s ability to rise to big moments, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic, who says Poole’s regular season performance bodes well for his odds of playing an important role in the team’s playoff run.
  • Conversely, Andrew Wiggins‘ game has taken a “taken a precipitous decline” as of late, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Wiggins has made just 34.6% of his free throw attempts since January, prompting Poole to wonder whether the All-Star forward can still be a regular part of crunch-time lineups this spring if he doesn’t turn things around soon.
  • Klay Thompson‘s shooting numbers this season – including 34.5% from the floor and 28.8% on threes in his last seven games – remain well below his career rates. But head coach Steve Kerr isn’t worried about the veteran sharpshooter, who is still working his way back into top form following a two-and-a-half year absence due to ACL and Achilles tears. “The only thing that I’m stressing with Klay right now is to just get great shots,” Kerr said on Thursday, per Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area. “If he’s not open, to move it on. I think we’ve really tried to give Klay a lot of freedom in his comeback, just to be able to feel the game. Not to harp on mistakes and that sort of thing. But the bottom line is we are at our best when the ball moves, and we’re getting good shots.”

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Green, Thompson, Moody

When the Warriors were tearing through the league earlier this season, they benefited from a strong performance by Andrew Wiggins, who played well enough to a starting spot in the All-Star Game. But Golden State has slumped recently, dropping three of its last four games and barely holding off Memphis for second place in the West, and Wiggins’ downturn has been a huge reason why, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Injuries have affected the Warriors, who have been without Draymond Green for seven weeks and Andre Iguodala for three weeks. Klay Thompson sat out the past two games with an illness, leaving Stephen Curry surrounded by a collection of young talent and role players. The team needed Wiggins to fill the void, and he hasn’t been doing it, Poole observes.

Wiggins just completed his least productive month since his rookie season in 2014, Poole adds, and his first game of March wasn’t encouraging. After scoring eight early points Tuesday night, Wiggins spent much of the game “floating around” and “standing in space,” according to Poole, who states that it brings back memories of the underachiever reputation that Wiggins had when he played in Minnesota.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • The organization plans to have Green around his teammates more often as he works his way back into playing shape following a lower back injury, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Green has been doing most of his rehab work on his own, but players and coaches believe he raises the spirits of the team and demands accountability from others. Coach Steve Kerr says Green continues to “make strides” toward a return and recently competed in a 3-on-3 scrimmage, Slater tweets.
  • Thompson had a “raging headache” after last Thursday’s game and felt sick for several days, but he traveled to Dallas with the team and plans to play tomorrow night (video link from Slater).“I’m playing,” he told reporters. “I didn’t come all the way to Dallas to watch.”
  • Rookie guard Moses Moody made his sixth start of the season Tuesday, but he had to leave the game with a left eye contusion, the Warriors announced on Twitter. “He got poked in the eye,” Kerr said after the game, per Cody Taylor of Yahoo Sports. “I think he got elbowed by (Karl-Anthony) Towns on a drive. He went up to go vertical and he got elbowed in the eye and it is pretty bad. His eye is swollen shut.”

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Looney, Poole, Wiseman, Thompson

The Warriors already have the NBA’s most expensive roster, but their payroll may only continue to rise in the coming years, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle.

As Letourneau outlines, Kevon Looney will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 and has earned a raise on his current $5.2MM salary; Jordan Poole will be extension-eligible this offseason; and Andrew Wiggins will be entering the final year of his contract in 2022/23.

This season, those three players are earning a combined $39MM, but if Golden State wants to hang onto them going forward, that cost will likely increase substantially beginning in ’23/24, when new deals for Wiggins and Poole would go into effect. Keith Smith of Spotrac estimates that Poole’s next contract could be worth in the neighborhood of $80MM over four years, Letourneau notes.

With all this in mind, Letourneau wonders if Wiggins could be the Warriors’ odd man out. The former No. 1 overall pick has thrived in Golden State, earning his first All-Star nod this season, but Letourneau is unconvinced that the organization would be prepared to give him another maximum-salary contract next year, pushing team salary over $200MM (not counting tax penalties) — especially if Jonathan Kuminga proves increasingly capable of eventually taking over Wiggins’ starting forward spot.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Within that same Chronicle story, Letourneau suggests that Looney could be in line for a multiyear deal worth about $6MM annually this offseason, and says the Warriors will make an effort to extend Poole during the 2022 offseason.
  • Cyrus Saatsaz of Locked on Warriors (video link) states that his cohost Dieter Kurtenbach of The Bay Area News Group has heard from a source that James Wiseman will return to action for Golden State on March 1, which would be the team’s third game after the All-Star break. Wiseman has described himself as being in the late stages of his rehab process, so we could certainly see him soon, though it’s worth noting that Klay Thompson‘s return was initially projected to happen before Christmas, and he didn’t make his season debut until January 9. Like they did with Thompson, the Warriors will play it safe with Wiseman, making sure he doesn’t play until he’s 100%.
  • Speaking of Thompson, while he feels fully healthy, he’s still in the process of working his way back to his pre-injury form, as he tells Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “I had a good game, but I want to put together a string of games,” Thompson said after a 33-point performance against the Lakers earlier this month. “I want to be back to playing at an elite level when I was making All-NBA teams. I know that’s going to come. I’m ahead of schedule from where I thought I’d be. I’m very competitive. I want to shoot at a high percentage. I want to be as efficient as I was.” Thompson added that he also wants to continue improving on defense, where he feels as if he has about “80 to 85 percent” of his lateral quickness back.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Beverley, Lillard, Sneed

Back in 2017, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine were in the early stages of their respective careers with the Timberwolves and had picked out a neighborhood where they’d all have homes within walking distance of one another, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“I remember us all talking about getting houses in the same cul-de-sac so we could be locked in every single day with each other and make that camaraderie and unity that we needed to win a championship,” Towns told Krawczynski.

The trio’s plan to turn the Timberwolves into a contender together was derailed when LaVine was traded to Chicago and Wiggins was later sent to Golden State, but Towns, Wiggins, and LaVine were reunited at this weekend’s All-Star Game in Cleveland, each representing a different team.

As Krawczynski relays, former Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said his father – the late Flip Saunders, who built that Wolves roster – would have been “so proud” to see all three players make the All-Star team, even if they were no longer teammates in Minnesota.

“It was just really cool to see us all on that stage and where we came from, being together on the same team and us all leaving and figuring out our own way,” LaVine said. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at the Timberwolves‘ decision to sign Patrick Beverley to a one-year, $13MM contract extension, noting that the team will be over the cap and under the tax line this offseason and didn’t really sacrifice any flexibility to extend Beverley. Minnesota remains in good position to potentially use cap room in 2022/23, Hollinger adds.
  • Speaking to Adam Caparell of Complex Sports, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard reiterated that, despite a disappointing season, he remains committed to the franchise for the foreseeable future. “I’m loyal to what I believe,” Lillard said. “I do love living in Portland. I do love playing for the Trail Blazers. But I’ve built this. I’ve been part of this for 10 years. I’ve been part of the change here and us being a successful franchise. I know what means something to me in my heart. And that’s winning a championship here.”
  • Xavier Sneed‘s new two-way contract with the Jazz is a two-year agreement, covering 2022/23 in addition to the rest of this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. That doesn’t guarantee that Sneed will remain with the team next season, but it gives Utah the option to hang onto him without needing to sign him to a new deal.

LeBron Chooses Giannis, Curry In All-Star Draft; Durant Picks Embiid, Morant

After James Harden was traded away from the Nets on Thursday, former teammate Kevin Durant opted not to pick him in the All-Star draft conducted on Thursday night. Harden was the last player chosen by LeBron James for Team LeBron, as the league announced (via Twitter).

LeBron’s starters, besides himself, are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Jokic.

Durant, who won’t play in the All-Star Game at Cleveland due to his knee injury, chose Joel Embiid, Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young and Andrew Wiggins as Team Durant’s starters.

James selected Luka Doncic as his top reserve. His guard-heavy team also features Darius Garland, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, Fred VanVleet and Harden.

Team Durant’s bench includes Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, Dejounte Murray, Khris Middleton, LaMelo Ball and Rudy Gobert.

Thus, numerous teammates will be on opposing clubs for the All-Star game, including the Jazz’s Gobert and Mitchell and the Suns’ Paul and Booker.

The game will be played February 20 in Cleveland.

Western Notes: Wiggins, Haliburton, Gordon, Wood, Jones

Even with Klay Thompson returning from his two-season absence last month, the Warriors still want first-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins to be aggressive, Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Wiggins is averaging 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, shooting 49% from the floor.

“Klay’s got this very big … aura about him when he’s on the court and he just finds a way to make his presence felt,” teammate Andre Iguodala said. “And Wiggs is a little more shy. So we had to remind Wiggs we still need you to go out and be on attack. And he’s done a great job of doing that.”

Wiggins’ play is a key reason why the Warriors are 40-13 this season. Golden State is currently on an eight-game win streak, working to stay afloat as Draymond Green rehabs a lower back injury.

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton finished with 17 assists on Saturday, becoming the youngest player in franchise history (21 years old) to do so, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee notes. Haliburton only recorded four turnovers and also pitched in 13 points. The Kings beat the Thunder 113-103.
  • Rockets veterans Christian Wood and Eric Gordon are blocking out the trade rumors ahead of Thursday’s deadline, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Wood and Gordon have been mentioned as possible trade candidates for the Rockets, who own the worst record in the West at 15-37. Wood is due $13.7MM this season, while Gordon will make $18.2MM.
  • Pelicans rookie Herbert Jones broke down film on some of his steals with Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Jones, the No. 35 pick in 2021, has become one of the league’s bright young defenders. He’s averaging 1.5 steals in 29.8 minutes per game this season.