After starting the season 6-2, the Golden State Warriors dropped their sixth game in a row and their fifth straight at home, suffering a heartbreaking 130-123 overtime defeat against the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder.
It looked as if the Warriors had all but sealed the deal as Andrew Wiggins knocked down a clutch go-ahead triple with just 1.8 seconds remaining. But Steve Kerr and his staff elected not to intentionally foul up three and Chet Holmgren made them pay for it, hitting a turnaround three-pointer to silence Chase Center and send the game to overtime.
While it may not mean much to Golden State Warriors fans after such an ugly and forgettable loss, Andrew Wiggins' bounce-back performance provided a major positive on Saturday night.
Off to the worst start to a season of his entire career, Wiggins was able to right the ship on Saturday evening, notching 31 points on an efficient 12-of-19 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. He looked far more comfortable with the ball in his hands and more importantly, he didn't settle for outside looks, using his frame and his speed to get downhill and do work in the midrange.
Wiggins' slow start has been characterized by extremely poor shooting splits on mostly wide-open attempts, clearly impacting his confidence level offensively — but he also seemed to forget that he is much more than just a floor spacer.
What sets Wiggins apart from other athletically gifted, score-first wings, and what made him such a crucial part of the Warriors' Championship run two seasons ago, has been his activity level off the ball. His ability to cut into open space for high-percentage looks, as well as his nose for offensive rebounds, has made him a key piece of the puzzle for Golden State, which is why it's been so frustrating to watch the eleven-year veteran relegate himself to a spot-up shooter.
Despite the loss, the Canadian looked more like himself against a formidable Thunder defense, maintaining his aggression and creating plenty of opportunities for himself and his teammates by consistently attacking the gaps in the defense.
Wiggins' 31 points also marked the first time this season that a Golden State Warrior not named Stephen Curry scored 25+ points in a game (yes, you read that right). For the Warriors to get back to their winning ways, guys like Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson will simply have to step up and play better, full stop.
As unfathomably good as Steph Curry has been to start the season, Golden State cannot solely rely on his output if they are to cement themselves as a legitimate title contender this season. To put it plainly, Curry needs help, and Wiggins' performance in Saturday's contest was an encouraging sign, regardless of the outcome.