Lineup No. 5: Bench Andrew Wiggins
Starters: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
There are players on the Golden State Warriors who have piles of All-Star selections and other career accolades sprinkled throughout long and successful careers, so in terms of clout and career achievement, it makes some sense for Andrew Wiggins to come off the bench. He can’t match the standing of players like Chris Paul and Draymond Green.
If the Warriors are trying to win basketball games, however, they need to keep Andrew Wiggins in the starting lineup. As Klay Thompson ages and continues his career on this side of two devastating injuries, he is slower and has less lateral agility than he did before when he was the primary perimeter defender on everyone from point guards to forwards. Now he’s a forward defender (and indeed the Warriors plan for him to defend more power forwards this season).
That makes Andrew Wiggins absolutely crucial for a Warriors team hoping to regain elite status on defense. His ability to defend guards and wings is necessary for the Warriors; Gary Payton II can match that ability but his offensive limitations are stark. Wiggins is a 39 percent three-point shooter and capable scoring threat who can defend every player but bigs.
The starting lineup doesn’t work without Wiggins, and that’s a major factor in why the Warriors stumbled so much last season with Wiggins missing 45 games. However the Warriors end up configuring the starting lineup, it has to include Maple Jordan.