By Julian Basena
MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Wiggins, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ former number-one selection, found a rather comfortable and rewarding home in Golden State as the Warriors top role player and newly crowned NBA champion.
More popularly known as the number-one overall selection of the 2014 NBA draft and one of the most exciting high school and college prospects of his generation, Wiggins spent his five years in Minnesota shouldering lofty expectations that he could never quite fulfill.
And after never truly shedding the reputation of a mid-level scorer on a perennial also-ran team, the Timberwolves traded Wiggins to the Warriors, where he was asked to do less and garnered more appreciation and accolades.
“I just wanted to prove everyone wrong. And now I’m a world champion,” Wiggins said before smiling wide. “Everyone is gonna have something to say regardless, but whatever they say they gotta say I’m a world champion, too.”
No longer the prized first scoring option of an eager and young unit, Wiggins played his new modest role as the Warriors 3-and-D wing exceptionally, eventually earning a spot on the 2021-22 NBA All-Star starting lineup. His first All-Star nod followed by the championship he won months later made him the only first overall draft pick ever to receive both honors for the first time on a team they did not debut with.
His standout effort carried on into the playoffs where he defended the top scorers of several opponents — particularly star Celtics forward Jayson Tatum in the NBA Finals, who averaged 21 points throughout the series under Wiggins’ watch — and scored and rebounded well on the other end of the floor offering a safety net for Stephen Curry on his off-nights.
At one point in the Finals, Wiggins led the Warriors in points and rebounds in a win where Curry failed to convert a three-pointer. On that night in which he improved Golden State to a 3-2 lead in the series, he gained some consideration as a potential Finals MVP candidate. Curry, however, received the honor unanimously.
“I feel like being here, it’s just a winning culture,” Wiggins said after game five of the Finals. “When I got here, they put you in a position to succeed and they always bring out the best in you. They want the best in you.”
Wiggins led both teams in rebounding at the conclusion of the series and was regularly touted as the Warriors most consistent athlete outside of Curry by the announcers of the Finals ESPN broadcast along with several journalists across the country.
Source: CBS Minnesota