Welcome to the Splash Family: Wiggins on fire from deep originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
DALLAS — The vision when the Warriors acquired Andrew Wiggins from the Minnesota Timberwolves in February of 2020 is that he would be the perfect positional fit alongside Steph Curry, and eventually Klay Thompson. Wiggins at 6-foot-7 could slash to the hoop, use his athleticism as a wing in the Warriors’ open offense, and the team believed it would be able to get the best out of him defensively.
But even they couldn’t have predicted he’d turn into such a knockdown shooter behind the 3-point line. Not the coaches, not the front office and not his new Warriors teammates.
Wiggins was a 33.2 percent 3-point shooter over his time with the Wolves. In 42 games before being traded to the Warriors, he was hitting only 33.1 percent of his 3s for Minnesota in the 2019-20. Over 12 games with the Warriors after being dealt in the pandemic-shortened season, Wiggins drained 33.9 percent of tries from deep.
That isn’t exactly lighting it up. Then, everything changed once he experienced a full season wearing a Warriors jersey.
“No,” Curry said Monday after Warriors practice at American Airlines Center when asked if he knew Wiggins was this good of a 3-point shooter when they first became teammates. “I mean I knew he averaged what, 20-plus for however many years? That’s hard to do in this league and people discredited it because he had opportunities, because he was the featured scorer. Like that’s just a given. That’s not the case at all.
“How he got it done has changed a little bit in terms of what our system requires. Obviously with me and Klay out there, we draw a lot of attention. He can space, be able to use his threat to attack and beat people off the dribble to set up now his new-found confidence to shoot the ball knowing he’s going to get those looks throughout the game.”
In each of the past three years, Wiggins has improved his 3-point shot and set career highs from there. He was a 38 percent 3-point shooter in the 2020-21 season, and that number jumped to 39.3 percent last season — his first as an All-Star. Wiggins even led the Warriors in 3-point percentage on their way to winning the championship, another first for his career.
This season, however, he has reached new heights letting it fly.
Through 19 games, Wiggins is taking a career-high 6.7 3-pointers per game, and making a career-high 2.9 threes per game as well. The efficiency is off the charts. How good has he been? Wiggins is shooting 44.1 percent from long distance.
So is Curry. The best Wiggins ever shot beyond the arc with the Wolves was 35.6 percent in the 2016-17 season. As Steph puts up numbers similar or better than his unanimous MVP season, Wiggins is matching him at the aspect of the game that Curry changed forever.
Kevin Durant, who Wiggins essentially replaced on the Warriors, shot 38.3 percent on 3s last season and is only making 34.6 percent of them this season.
Coming into Tuesday’s road contest with the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors are riding their first three-game win streak this season. Over that span, Wiggins has gone 12-for-22 as a 3-point shooter — good for a 54.5-percent clip.
There’s a change of scenery being good for a player, and then there’s Wiggins’ case where it’s perfect. Instead of settling for deep 2-point shots and forcing tough takes as the No. 1 option, Wiggins is thriving daily in Steve Kerr’s system and shooting 48.1 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.
“A part of it is trying to make the game a little easier for yourself with how teams are going to defend you,” Curry said. “Scoring at all three levels, that keeps the defense on edge. They don’t really know what’s going to happen. That’s about evolving your game and it’s great to see a guy with that amount of talent already refine his skill set even more.”
While Jordan Poole grew into a star last season, some likened the young guard to be the next Splash Brother with Curry and Thompson. The nickname “Splash Nephew” was floated around, and Poole preferred “Kid Splash.”
Now, it might be time for a new member. Andrew Wiggins, welcome to the Splash Family.
“We’re gonna have a Splash Family reunion,” Curry said. “Everybody’s invited.”
If Wiggins keeps playing like this, the invitation just might be dated for mid-June with another Warriors championship parade.