The Golden State Warriors may have suffered their sixth-straight loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, but there was one distinct positive to take from yet another disappointing result.
Andrew Wiggins entered his 14th game of the season having not scored more than 17 points in any single outing. On Saturday he nearly doubled his season-best, notching an efficient 31 points and going ever so close to winning the game for the Warriors down the stretch.
A season-best performance from Andrew Wiggins should provide optimism for the Golden State Warriors despite another worrisome loss.
The 6'7" forward blocked a Josh Giddey floater attempt on the first possession of the game, signalling his intention for a more productive performance. He found his own floater over a tough Chet Holmgren contest a few minutes in, then found an easy cutting layup 40 seconds later.
Wiggins found more confidence with back-to-back mid-range jumpshots in the second-quarter, both coming off screens where he sprung free off the dribble. He had 12 points by half-time and added another six in the third-quarter -- it was already a season-best by the time he entered the fourth.
But it was the final period of regulation where he made a statement. When the Warriors were in trouble down six with just over five minutes to play, it was Wiggins who made a timely three to halt the Thunder's momentum.
That was to be the first of four threes from Wiggins over the last 5:05 of regulation, the last of which gave Golden State the lead with 1.6 seconds remaining. That was supposed to be a moment written in the stars -- Wiggins' statement of return -- only it wasn't.
Chet Holmgren hit a heartbreaking three over Wiggins at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander turned the knife even further with a dominant period that resulted in a 130-123 Thunder win.
But even if the Warriors went home deflated yet again, this was not the same as their previous five losses. Wiggins, and by extension Golden State, rediscovered something they were sorely missing -- an efficient scorer to support Stephen Curry.
Sure, it's just one game, yet at the very least it was a reminder to the Warriors, fans and Wiggins himself, that he's still capable of these type of performances. It's worth remembering that he entered the game having made just two threes in 24 quarters at home this season -- he was 2-21 at Chase Center and was shooting 13.5% from three overall.
To see Wiggins make four threes in the space of five minutes was a sight for sore eyes. He was asked post-game whether he had lost confidence during a torrid stretch where his spot in the starting lineup was under question externally.
"Lose confidence? No. I know what I can do. What I've done since I've been here, playing within the system, playing with these guys...just keep shooting, try and do the little things on the court - rebound, defend - knowing the shot will come eventually," Wiggins said."
It certainly looked like he'd lost confidence before Saturday's game, but regardless it doesn't matter now. What matters is Wiggins reproducing these type of outings, particularly as the pressure continues to grow for a Warrior team that's hit the depths of despair less than one-fifth of the way through the season.