Andrew Wiggins Has Dreamed Of A Moment Like His Game 5 NBA Finals Performance | Does It Erase Underachiever Tag? 

(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn - Pool/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors are one win away from capturing the franchise’s fourth title since 2015 and seventh overall. One key cog in the Warriors rise back to prominence after a two-year injury-marred hiatus, is elite wing Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins has been a Godsend for a Warriors team that lacks athleticism and size at the wing position. His 26-point and 13-rebound effort in Game 5 comes on the heels of his 17-point, 16-rebound performance in Game 4 with the Warriors trailing the series 2-1. His back-to-back outbursts have played a huge role in the Warriors being one win away from hoisting another Larry O’Brien Trophy. It’s even garnering him some MVP consideration. 

In his postgame presser, Wiggins discussed his play and how happy he is to be in this Warriors culture.

“It’s something I’ve dreamt about for sure, being in the league, and this is the ultimate stage. It doesn’t get bigger than this. I was out there being aggressive. It was a good game.”

Wiggins’ aggression has been noticeable on both ends of the hardwood. His defensive assignment has been to take on the challenge of guarding Celtics star Jayson Tatum. Thus far in the series, when guarded by Wiggins on 55 possessions, Tatum has scored 13 total points and shot five air balls.

Wiggins Drafted/Traded Before Ever Playing Game In Cleveland

The former Kansas Jayhawks star was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, just two months after draft night. 

With the return of Ohio’s native son LeBron James, the team switched from a youth movement to acquiring veterans who could help LBJ win a championship immediately in Cleveland. While Wiggins would go on to play solidly in Minneapolis alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, there was never a real emphasis on winning.

 

 

After 6.5 seasons in Minneapolis, Wiggins was traded to the Warriors in 2020 for D’Angelo Russell and two bench players in Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans III. The Warriors also got a first-round pick in return, which ended up being the supremely athletic Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 7 pick in the 2021 NBA draft. A deal in which the Dubs straight fleeced the Timberwolves.

At the time of the deal Warriors owner Joe Lacob knew the trade for the young talented baller would pay dividends in the future. 

“I thought it was one of the greatest deals, certainly maybe the greatest deal we’ve ever done. And one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. I thought GM Bob Myers did an amazing job. I don’t even know how to put it strong enough.”

Wiggins Put Canadian AAU On The Map: Maple Jordan?

In 2013, during his senior season in high school and prior to his arrival at Kansas, late, great recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski said he believed Andrew Wiggins could be the “Michael Jordan of Canada.”

The 6-foot-8 Wiggins, starred at Huntington Prep (W Va.), after leading the CIA Bounce AAU team from Canada to a 26-2 record in 2011 and 17-3 in 2012 on the extremely tough and competitive Nike EYBL circuit. They lost in the Peach Jam Finals both seasons, but Wiggins’ skill set and eventual rise up draft boards was evident.  

 

 

Back then, following a tourney win, Wiggins told reporters:

“When the big games come, I show up. I’m more ready to play. When we play a team I know we’re going to blow out or anything like that, I’m not as motivated.”

That quote has aged considerably well, probably better than anyone could have imagined. In these 2022 playoffs we are seeing No. 1 pick talent more consistently, and Wiggins has picked the perfect time to live up to his “Maple Jordan” nickname.