Is this when Andrew Wiggins loses his reputation?

Game 2 of Golden State WarriorsThe second-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies — an affair already marred with bad blood — was an absolute disaster.

Yes, the Good Guys folded in critical time, which of course was a regular season specialty for these Warriors, but worst of all, they lost Gary Payton II to a dirty play of Bad Boy Grizzlies and André Iguodala’s biggest hater, aka Dillon Brooks. Whether you agree with Steve Kerr’s view that basketball’s “code” has been sullied by Brooks’ flagrant foul or not, the result is disastrous. Payton was by far Golden State’s best chance to slow down Ja Morant, not to mention a fan favorite with the heart of a hero.

the death list looks dead. The spin is paper thin. Memphis Secondary Journalists come out themselves as cops. It’s hard to tell who is the giant and who is the giant killer in this series. It’s going to be the kind of show that’s bad for your health, in large part because it all can come down to…Andrew Wiggins.

On February 7, 2020, the Minnesota Dubs and Timberwolves traded damaged merchandise, knocking out D’Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins had exhausted his welcome to the Land of 10,000 Lakes but was hardly a traditional ‘bust’, despite failing to live up to his selection as the first overall pick. He was still young and athletic and (squint) filled the deep wound left by Kevin Durant’s departure much better than a nervous Gunner like D’Angelo Russell. Sure, Wiggins would make $27,504,630 (and growing every year!) for being the fourth-best player (maybe?) on the roster, but the Warriors also stole a first-round pick that eventually turned into Jonathan Kuminga, and you know how we feel Kuminga, people. But 2020 feels like decades because at that time we couldn’t understand an ongoing global pandemic or this Andrew Wiggins would start an All-Star Game. He’s the guy we need to step in right now. The guy who – let’s be real – shouldn’t have been an All-Star starter (or probably even an All-Star reserve), but was good enough for you to make that case, statistically, emotionally, without laughing at the bar.

Clearly, the outcome of this series (and this season) shouldn’t rest entirely or even primarily on the shoulders of Andrew Wiggins. To beat the Grizzlies, the salty and persistent Grizzlies, a crowd of unruly youngsters led by the most electric executioner in the NBA, the Warriors will need the masterful performances of Steph Curry and Draymond Green. They’ll need Klay Thompson to not play so angry (or excited) and remember he’s been there before. They’ll need Jordan Poole to play like a deranged slippery sufferer with no conscience (not so worried about that) and hope his defensive fundamentals can withstand this trial by fire (a little more worrying). It would be unfair, not to say unlikely, to think or expect Wiggins to be the answer. But for Golden State to regain momentum from this streak, he can’t be an unrelenting question mark either — his deserved career reputation.

Who is Wiggins on this team, now and in the future? Is he a glorified placeholder that relaxes until the bridge to the future is complete? A strange new high-paid glue-type model? The king of rebounds? The man who finally takes Ja Morant’s left? It’s anyone’s guessing game. It exists on an erratic, frustrating, sometimes fascinating pendulum. It’s the Andrew Wiggins special.

In classic Wiggins fashion, he’s been both impressive and on autopilot this series. He’s been more than willing to get in the mud, but free throws remain an ongoing issue and the long two still calls to him like a siren’s song. Two games and Golden State has yet to produce a reasonable facsimile of a quality offensive outing. The days of firing on all cylinders are a thing of the fuzzy past. Now, in an even fuzzier present, it comes down to which cylinder has the hot hand. Wiggins didn’t force the issue, which in general is probably wise, but the man is still extremely capable of bucket flurries, and unfortunately this incarnation of the team could use a flurry of a bucket from time to time. unexpected source. Otto Porter Jr. lost his shooting touch (he’s still fighting, I love you Otto). Nemanja Bjelica can’t really get on the pitch. Kuminga does his job on training wheels minutes.

Wiggins? He can score. It’s not always pretty or effective, but it can score. It’s his thing, before it wasn’t. But the talking point that accompanied the trade was always heard loud and clear: don’t worry, genuine fans, we only brought him here to be a complementary player, not a star. Wiggins seems beloved and is considered (for now) to be part of the core in a way that Kelly Oubre never was and James Wiseman has yet to have the chance to be, but he is still for all intents and purposes a highly paid add-on. player. An assistant professor without the possibility of tenure. The conventional wisdom forged in Minnesota is essentially that without three future halls of fame surrounding him, Wiggins is empty calories. Sound and Fury meaning pretty decent stats. The 1-3 pecking order in Golden State is set in stone, and in his relatively short time here, Wiggins has likely already been overtaken by Poole’s rise.

Regardless – the rest of this streak is clearly the most Wiggins has ever been asked to do as an NBA player. He may be Golden State’s fifth-best player, but he’s also the exact guy on the list who can make the most of his sometimes dormant potential (there’s that heartbreaking word again). He has an array of tricks dangerous enough as a fourth option on offense to punish an aggressive Grizzlies defense that is dedicated to smothering even struggling versions of Curry, Thompson and Poole. To make things as onerous as possible, he’ll need to unleash his offensive spark while being next in line for the psychological slaughterhouse trying to slow down the show and the wickedness of Morant. It’s a Hallmark film-making moment for the high-spirited Canadian we’ve all been looking for. The past is not the future. Everyone has the chance to break with their reputation. The melting pot of the playoffs produces unlikely heroes and stories of redemption every year. We believe, as the old saying goes.

The Bay Area desperately wants to love (or at least defend its honor with a straight face) Wiggins. He is, right now, one of us, and he has shown us, sporadically but clearly, his worth. He’s proven he can consistently influence the outcome of close games and force big moments from the sidelines. It’s not exactly a problem with its engine, although it is often the case for long periods of time. The effort is naked for the world to see. The commotion, the dunks in the throat, taking him up a notch in defense. His playoff rebound was amazing. The ideal version of Wiggins should be an obvious positive force, a potential 16-game fringe player in the making. Just when you mentally write him off or relegate him to your fifth most important player, he reliably sneaks into the frame and gets big, sometimes huge. And the flip side of that is, of course, when you rely on him, when you expect him to do what he can so clearly, he will stumble, he will drift, he will face the situation with imperfect intensity. . It’s just being human in a league (and a team) that essentially conditions us to expect superhumans 100% (or at least 90%) of the time. It’s not Kevin Durant. It’s not even Harrison Barnes, who, say what you will about Harry B, was a crucial header from a Hydra that won 73 regular-season games.

Wiggins came to the bay with luggage, but surprisingly he still has the chance to leave with gear. But first, the upstarts who OK Boomer-ed the Warriors in Game 2 need to be put down. And so, this is the critical moment in which Wiggins must elegantly merge his two disparate trajectories, gritty workaholic and explosive bucket chaser. At this tipping point, at the paramount moment of his season and his career, with the guys above him struggling and the guys below him not really making a difference (no offense, Nemanja Bjelica !), maybe we all knew it was still on top. to this: that Andrew Christian Wiggins of Thornhill, Ontario, the thinking man’s Underachiever, might well be the fine line between triumph and dishonour, between the extension of a dynasty and the nail in its coffin. . Just as they drew it.

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