Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has confirmed Andrew Wiggins will continue to come off the bench in the wake of the Canadian’s demotion against the LA Clippers on Thursday night.
It was an historic change for the Warriors and for Wiggins, with the game marking the former number one overall pick’s first regular season appearance as a reserve in his career. Wiggins had started all of his previous 656 games (including 214 for the Warriors), though did come off the bench when he returned from a long absence for the first game of last season’s playoffs.
Andrew Wiggins’ move to the bench is expected to continue across the foreseeable future despite the Golden State Warriors’ loss on Thursday
Golden State’s new starting lineup, featuring Brandin Podziemski in place of Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga in place of the suspended Draymond Green, began well enough before the Clippers blew the game open with a 40-28 second-quarter.
The Warriors fought back to within one early in the fourth-quarter, but were ultimately unable to take advantage of a season-high eight three-pointers and 30 points from veteran shooting-guard Klay Thompson.
The 121-113 defeat was Golden State’s 13th loss in their last 18 games, with change inevitable given the struggles of the team and Wiggins whose averaging a career-low 12 points on 26.4% three-point shooting.
The 2022 All-Star hardly made an emphatic case for an immediate re-insertion to the starting lineup, finishing with just nine points, three rebounds and picking up five fouls in under 22 minutes. Speaking post-game, Kerr praised Wiggins’ approach in providing “great energy” off the bench, while also confirming the new starting five will be given an extended opportunity over the short-term.
“”It felt like we needed a shift. I feel like Brandin gives us the extra playmaker, obviously he’s a great rebounder,” Kerr said. “JK deserves the minutes and with Draymond out, it’s a perfect time for him to step in and it feels like a group that can really connect…This group will start the next few games.””
Kerr continues to hold immense faith in his 2023 first-round pick, with Podziemski playing over 34 minutes in the eight-point loss. Despite scoring just four points on 2-11 shooting, the 20-year-old impacted in other avenues with an equal team-high seven rebounds, as well as two assists, three steals and a block.
Kuminga’s recent positive stretch continued with 15 points and five rebounds, while finishing a team-high +5. He and Podziemski’s form is likely to make it difficult for Wiggins to reclaim his spot, even despite the indefinite suspension of Green who’s absence places further pressure on a 15th-ranked defense.
Not only is Wiggins playing to regain his role in the team, but he may also be playing for his future at the franchise ahead of the February 8 trade deadline. He and the Warriors will look to respond as they head home to play the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center on Saturday.