While Andrew Wiggins may never turn into the transcendent superstar that he was projected to become when he was picked first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, he has morphed into the perfect complementary piece for the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State is now just one win away from their first NBA championship since 2018 and Wiggins has played a crucial role in their season-long resurgence. He has leveraged his athleticism and lanky 6’7 frame to mature into a deadly weakside finisher and, more importantly, a top tier defender.

In the prior round, the 27-year-old took on the task of slowing down Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and was more than competent in doing so as they wrapped up the Western Conference Finals in five games. He has switched over to the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum in these NBA Finals and has hounded him into his worst offensive series so far in this year’s postseason.

The Canadian-born forward was already contributing his fair share through his defensive efforts on Tatum, but with the Warriors facing a 2-1 deficit against the Celtics, he responded by recording two of the best all-around games of his career so far.

His inspired play helped them pick up back-to-back wins that have suddenly swung the series in Golden State’s favor heading into Game 6 where they have their first of two chances to secure the title.


In Game 4, Wiggins scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds that blew away his previous best of 11. His ability to function as their small-ball power forward was key late in the game as it allowed them to keep the mismatched Draymond Green on the bench for certain key stretches. He was unusually tenacious rebounding the ball throughout the evening and credited it as a manifestation of his desire to win in the postgame press conference.

Wiggins also played a key role as a weak side scorer in Game 4, capitalizing on the outsized attention that Stephen Curry demands from defenses. He took it up a notch further in Game 5 when he led the Warriors with 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting, 13 rebounds, one steal, one block, and zero turnovers that helped them overcome Curry’s first game without a three-pointer since 2018.

This version of Wiggins is the best case scenario that Golden State envisioned when they traded for him at the February 2020 trade deadline.

Acquired together with a pair of draft picks from the the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise with whom he spent the first five and a half seasons of his career with, the expectations were low given his status as a “bust”. In exchange, they sent over D’Angelo Russell, the main piece in the package that they received in the sign-and-trade that facilitated Kevin Durant’s move to the Brooklyn Nets, together with a handful of role players.

Essentially, the Warriors replaced the high-scoring Durant with Wiggins on their roster and though it may be a downgrade in terms of skill and overall resume, it has not hindered them from returning to the NBA Finals.

Wiggins’ lack of ego and youth relative to his veteran teammates has made him a more malleable player which, in turn, makes him somewhat more valuable. His vindication has been one of the most intriguing stories in this postseason and is an unexpected twist in the career of a player who was once criticized for his ball-stopping ways.

Although 30-point scoring averages and multiple All-NBA selections may not come Wiggins’ way like it was initially thought, he has become an irreplaceable piece on a potential title-winning team which is more than enough validation of his successful redemption arc.