Monday, October 2 2023

Wiggins, following Steph’s example, embracing coming off bench originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – Though Andrew Wiggins was unclear on whether he would start Saturday for Game 1 of the Warriors-Kings first-round Western Conference playoff series, his attitude was abundantly clear.

He is willing to embrace either role, a disposition that shines yet another light on the leadership of Stephen Curry.

Asked about his status on Thursday, Wiggins told NBC Sports Bay Area that he didn’t yet know whether he would start or come off the bench.

“I’ve got to wait and see,” he said after practice at Chase Center. “But I would get it if (coach Steve Kerr) said he wants me to come off the bench. I wasn’t here for a long time, so I would understand. You can’t say anything about that.

“I mean, Steph came off the bench last year. What? Steph can do it, but I can’t?”

Wiggins cracked a broad grin, which quickly evolved into full laughter.

He paused, grinned again, and then laughed harder, presumably at the absurdity of anyone on the Golden State roster trying to justify prioritizing their ego when the team’s superstar is willing to submerge his ego for the sake of the team.

Curry’s status entering the playoffs last season was about as questionable as that of Wiggins this season. Curry missed four weeks after sustaining a sprained ligament in his left foot on March 16, 2022. He was not cleared to play until April 15, one day before Game 1 of the first-round series against the Nuggets.

The two-time MVP came off the bench and played 22 minutes. Curry was a reserve for the first four games of the series, finally returning to the starting lineup in Game 5, in which the Warriors clinched the series.

Wiggins’ absence, however, is twice as long as that of Curry. Wiggins last played on Feb. 13. He will have missed 25 games and, moreover, 62 days when he walks onto the court at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Wiggins has scrimmaged at least four times over the past 10 days, and his teammates and coaches are delighted with what they’ve seen.

“He didn’t really look like he’d lost a step,” Curry said.

“He looked amazing,” Kevon Looney said after the team’s scrimmage on Wednesday.

“Andrew looks great, feeling good, ready to go,” Kerr said after a light session on Thursday.

There is one thing that greatly differentiates Wiggins’ situation from that of Curry. Curry has much more experience coming off the bench, having done so several times early in his career and twice in the postseason before filling that role four times to begin last postseason.

RELATED: Report: Wiggins ‘ready to go,’ could come off bench in Game 1

In eight NBA seasons, Wiggins has played 662 games (including postseason) and every one of them as a starter.

Should he come off the bench on Saturday – and team sources say that decision has not been determined – it will snap a career-long personal streak.

Wiggins merely shrugged at the possibility of snapping his streak.

“Steph set the bar high,” he said. “I can’t be mad at that.”

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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