Early returns suggest Warriors were right on highly-publicized trade call

Charlotte Hornets v Golden State Warriors
Charlotte Hornets v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Andrew Wiggins was one of the biggest names in media speculation ahead of the February 8 trade deadline, with a disappointing season from the veteran forward opening up a potential move away from the Golden State Warriors.

While Wiggins remained in trade talks over the final few hours, including reported interest from the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, the Warriors ultimately chose to hold faith in the Canadian and their core group of players.

The Golden State Warriors' decision to retain Andrew Wiggins is proving the right decision based on early returns since the trade deadline

The franchise copped some criticism for their lack of activity at the deadline, but the front office's decision to hold firm is looking like the right decision at this stage. That includes hanging onto Wiggins who after a woeful first 45-50 games, is starting to look more and more like the consistent two-way presence he's capable of being.

Wiggins added another 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night -- nothing spectacular though highly efficient in a game where both teams struggled for offense. It came after the 28-year-old's 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, with Golden State earning two comfortable victories out of the gate from the All-Star break.

In his last eight games (seven of which have come since the trade deadline), Wiggins has averaged 15.5 points on 53.8% shooting from the floor, 50% from three-point range, and 76.9% from the free-throw line. It's not a scoring explosion by any means, but simply the efficient version of Wiggins that the Warriors need.

He's confident, is being aggressive, and looks much more assured with everything he's doing. Perhaps that's most emphasized by 2.4 assists and just 0.9 turnovers per game over the last eight, having come after Wiggins averaged more turnovers than dimes for most of the season.

Wiggins' responsibility on the defensive end is just as important, with the 2022 All-Star again playing a key role in limiting Charlotte to just 84 points on Friday. Golden State rank fifth in defense over the last 15 games, in large part thanks to Draymond Green but also due to Wiggins' perimeter defense.

Most importantly, Wiggins is back to playing in a way that's conducive to winning. After being such a net negative for most of the season, Wiggins is a +89 in the last 12 games where the Warriors have accrued a 10-2 record.

Golden State could have easily cut their losses with the former number one overall pick, but chose to stick fat knowing that whatever they got back was never going to provide the value they knew Wiggins could provide.

While it's still early days and there's plenty of time over the remainder of this season and beyond, Wiggins is starting to reward the franchise with performances more in line with the expectations when his four-year, $109 million was given in the 2022 offseason.