Wiggs ignores ‘outside mess,’ shows why he’s an All-Star originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO – Andrew Wiggins hears the criticism, has heard it for years, and certainly heard the volume intensify the past two days.
But he’s not listening to it.
To the noise, that is, coming from those who perceive him as an overpaid underachiever in Minnesota and now, in the wake of his status as a first-time All-Star Game starter and member of the Warriors, suddenly view him as wildly overrated and certainly undeserving.
“I came a long way,” Wiggins said. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I come here, I hoop, I go home play with my kids and go to sleep. In that order.
“I just hoop. I don’t worry about the outside mess. I’m just going to keep getting better. Everyone is going to have something to say, but it’s just motivation to keep doing it, growing and getting better.”
Well aware that this game placed him and the Warriors on the national TV stage, Wiggins used the first quarter as an All-Star certification statement. He played all 12 minutes, scoring 14 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field, including 2-of-3 from deep.
That not being enough, Wiggins also grabbed five rebounds, blocked two shots, snagged two steals and recorded one assist.
He was, it seemed, a man on a mission.
“Andrew was phenomenal tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Three blocks, I think (actually two), and three steals all over the place defensively. And then on offense, he was our most consistent player. He kind of carried us in the first half, and he’s just playing with amazing confidence and showing why he’s an All-Star.”
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combining for seven first-half and 2-of-13 shooting, it was Wiggins who let it known that the Warriors still would have enough firepower and defense to walk out of Chase Center with wearing smiles of triumph.
Wiggins totaled a team-high 24 points, eight rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists. Defensively, he also limited Brooklyn to 1-of-10 shooting from the field in one-on-one situations. He was plus-14 over 37 minutes.
This was an outstanding game for Wiggins, but he has had more than a dozen that qualify for that designation.
“Andrew is on the path to be an All-NBA player the way that affects both sides,” Thompson said while scanning the game statistics. “Knocking down 3s, tip-dunking, blocking shots, three steals . . . incredible.”
Wiggins is shooting a career-high 41.4 percent beyond the arc and has been the primary defender on the opposing team’s most dangerous perimeter scorer, whether it’s a point guard, shooting guard or small forward.
For this game, with Brooklyn missing Kevin Durant and James Harden, that meant Wiggins got the Kyrie Irving assignment. Irving scored 32 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but the vast majority of the production came against defenders other than Wiggins.
“It’s something I pride myself on,” Wiggins said of his defense. “I love the challenge. I love the competitiveness, especially when it’s against another team’s superstar. I love it. I love to take on the challenge.”
Being voted in as a starter in the All-Star Game in his eighth season is quite the accomplishment. It’s unlikely that Wiggins can achieve All-NBA status in the same season.
But, believer or doubter, Wiggins’ numbers and impact on a winning team say he is playing well enough overall to be in the debate, which is more than any reasonable observer might have expected.