The Golden State Warriors are hoping to repeat as NBA Champions, but injuries and absences have plagued them throughout the 2022-23 regular season. Now the roadblock has gotten bigger as forward Andrew Wiggins continues to miss time for personal reasons.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic filled in Warriors and NBA fans on Wiggins’ potential for return with 15 games remaining, sharing this soundbite from Golden State Head Coach Steve Kerr earlier today:
Steve Kerr said the “hope” is that Andrew Wiggins returns this season, but it isn’t a sure thing. Here’s the full soundbite. pic.twitter.com/grgTLdeVg3— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 11, 2023
While the exact cause for Wiggins’ absence has not been specified by the team, the former 2014 No. 1 overall pick has been burdened with an issue that has costed him 10 consecutive games and counting. Golden State is 5-5 without Wiggins.
Kerr elaborated, saying that the franchise is ‘giving him the space,’ he needs during this arduous time. This would not be the first time Wiggins has missed an elongated stretch this year, as he was sidelined for 15 games between Dec. 5, 2022 and Jan. 4, 2023 due to a right adductor injury.
Wiggins has piggy-backed off of his 2021-22 All-Star season this year, averaging 17.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and a career-high 39.6 percent shooting from the three-point arc in 37 games played.
Wiggins’ impact for the Warriors is immeasurable, as he assumed the “2A” role behind All-NBA guard Stephen Curry to Klay Thompson’s “2B,” in the 2022 NBA playoffs. He silenced critics in the NBA Finals, where he averaged 18.3 points per game as the No. 2 scorer for the eventual champions, to go along with a team-leading 8.8 rebounds. He impressed with 16 rebounds in Game 4, and followed suit with 13 rebounds in Game 5.
With or without Wiggins, the Warriors have been dreadful away from San Francisco, where they own a 7-26 road record — trailing only the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets for most road losses on the year. Yet, they’ve been excellent at home, going 27-7.
After winning five straight games, the Warriors have dropped three in a row, leaving their championship aspirations in serious doubt. The status of Wiggins heading into the postseason is sure to reveal how realistic their chances are to go back-to-back.
As it stands, Golden State only holds a three-game lead in the standings over the No. 13 seeded Portland Trail Blazers. In a two-week span that has seen seeds 7 through 13 frequently fluctuate, Golden State will need to compensate for Wiggins’ missing production as playoff seeding might well come down to the final night of regular season NBA action.