The Golden State Warriors chalked up their 40th win of the season on Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, but the critical win also signalled a 20th-straight absence for starting small-forward Andrew Wiggins.
The 28-year-old hasn’t been seen since before the All-Star break on February 13, having been on leave from the franchise as he deals with personal matters. With the regular season drawing to a close, many fans are feeling anxious about Wiggins’ return as well as holding sympathy for his current situation.
Comments from Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has to provide some optimism on a possible return for 2021 All-Star Andrew Wiggins.
Speaking before Tuesday night’s win, Steve Kerr revealed that Wiggins was working out on a daily basis, hower, the head coach had no update on when or whether the former number one overall pick would return to the team.
"“He’s been working out every day. Beyond that, once he’s back, our training staff will be able to get with him and see where he is, but no he’s been training on his own…There’s hope but I guess it’s indefinite because we don’t know.”"
The fact Wiggins has been working out individually has to provide some optimism of a return, suggesting that he himself believes there’s some likelihood. Kerr was also asked whether there was a chance Golden State would bite the bullet and shut Wiggins down for the season, to which he bluntly replied ‘no’.
After the return of Gary Payton II against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, Wiggins is the only major hole left in Golden State’s rotation. His consistently productive 30-35 minutes are currently being filled by likes of Donte DiVincenzo, Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Lamb, and now Payton. Speaking after the comeback win over the Pelicans, superstar teammate Stephen Curry said that Wiggins will come back when he’s ready.
"“We’d love to have him and hope that does happen. We want to be whole and I’m sure he wants to be a part of this. But when he walks through the door, it’ll be when it’s the right time for him. That’s the expectation at this point.”"
The Warriors are 11-9 in Wiggins’ absence, a record that’s largely reflective of their entire season to date. That’s not to say his leave isn’t being felt, but Kerr does have options at his disposal to fulfill his minutes while remaining competitive.
Arguably the second-best player in last year’s NBA Finals, and for the entirety of Golden State’s postseason for that matter, the loss of Wiggins will be most felt should it extend into the playoffs. If he isn’t to return, you’d almost have to put a line through their chance for back-to-back championships.