In what appeared like an unlikely event just a matter of weeks ago, veteran forward Andrew Wiggins has survived the NBA trade deadline and will remain at the Golden State Warriors for at least the remainder of this season.
Speculation on Wiggins' future continued right up until the deadline, with the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks each holding interest in Wiggins over recent days. Yet the Warriors were never motivated by rival offers, leaving the 28-year-old at the franchise where they hope he can be a pivotal piece to a resurgence in the second-half of the season.
With his future at the Golden State Warriors secure for the moment, it's time to adjust the external expectations on Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins has found some form over recent weeks, with the pairing of he and Jonathan Kuminga unlocked by Draymond Green's return to the Golden State lineup. In what may have proved his last game for the franchise, the Canadian provided a reminder of his talents with 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
With his mind surely at ease after the deadline, the form continued early on Thursday in Indiana as Wiggins went for seven-points in a high-scoring first-quarter. He would make just two shots from that point on, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes of play.
The franchise's decision to keep Wiggins came from the hope that he can return to his best, rather than trade him at his lowest point for a player who's never been near the level he reached in the 2022 playoffs.
The thing is the Warriors don't need 2022 All-Star Wiggins and the player who was the second-best player on a championship team. That might be an unrealistic target anyway, but the franchise doesn't need that to be a high-level team going forward.
Jonathan Kuminga's emergence to Golden State's second offensive option has lessened the burden on Wiggins and Klay Thompson. No longer should fans and analysts expect that pair to return to 18-20 point per game scorers, but rather it's the efficiency that needs to improve first and foremost.
Wiggins and Thompson are now the team's fourth and fifth-best players, and the responsibility should therefore be reflected as such. The latter should recapture his catch-and-shoot focus, taking advantage of the gravity of Stephen Curry and the rim pressure Kuminga provides.
For Wiggins, it's now about the defense more than it is the offense. As good as his double-double was against the 76ers, it was his defense on Tyrese Maxey that proved just as important. The Philadelphia All-Star was limited to only 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, with Wiggins backing that up by keeping Tyrese Haliburton to five points on 2-of-7 shooting against Indiana.
If Wiggins can consistently limit the opposition's best guard/wing to below average games, then an efficient 12-16 points on the other end is more than reasonable. Ultimately, the quicker we stopping comparing him to the 2022 version, the quicker we can appreciate this model of Wiggins and how he can still contribute to a very good Warrior team moving forward.