After some down years, the Golden State Warriors again look like the NBA's best team, and Toronto-native Andrew Wiggins is a big reason for it.
Through his first 17 games of the season, Wiggins is averaging 19.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range. This, of course, comes after Wiggins spent time in the offseason representing Team Canada in its pursuit of a berth in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
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Canada would fall short of its ultimate goal, but Wiggins brought this confidence along with him into the 2021-22 season, and the Warriors are reaping the benefit.
In Golden State's most recent win over the Toronto Raptors, Wiggins crossed the 30-point plateau for the second time this season, finishing with an efficient 32 points on 12 of 20 shooting from the field, including 6 of 8 from beyond the arc.
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Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, who doubles as Team Canada's lead man, spoke glowingly of Wiggins following the game.
"What I learned [over the summer] is that he can really score," Nurse said of the 26-year-old forward. "He's really comfortable shooting if you're going to give him the space to shoot. He's got a ton of confidence in his shot."
This season, Wiggins has been a major beneficiary of playing alongside the supernova that is Stephen Curry and a cerebral playmaker in Draymond Green. Through 17 games, 41 of Wiggins' 88 3-point attempts have been deemed "wide open" per NBA.com Stats , meaning there were no defenders within at least six feet of him.
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To Nurse's point, Wiggins is 19 of 41 (46.3 percent) on those attempts, a sign of him being extremely comfortable.
Nurse continued, adding that "[Wiggins] is starting to find some other seams in their offensive system that really benefit him because he is super quick when he cuts and when he catches it, hits the floor and bounces up, he's usually getting clearance over somebody.
Andrew Wiggins caps his 22-point, 9-9 shooting first half in style! 😱- NBA (@NBA) November 11, 2021
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Things should only get easier for Wiggins within Golden State's system as five-time All-Star Klay Thompson has reportedly been cleared to practice fully and is expected back in the lineup ahead of the Warriors' Christmas Day meeting with the Phoenix Suns, per The Athletic's Shams Charania .
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With another floor spacer in Thompson, opposing defences can't focus as much on slowing Wiggins down, which should make scoring even easier for a natural scorer.
To tie a bow on his complimentary assessment, Nurse added that "he was a pleasure to work with" before reiterating that Wiggins "can really score the basketball."
The strength of the relationship between Nurse and Wiggins can prove to be crucial for Canada Basketball, which is currently working to qualify for one of 30 available spots in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. As the amount of Canadian talent in the NBA continues to grow, so does the potential of the national team program.
Wiggins and the Warriors will make their lone visit to Toronto of the season on Saturday, Dec. 18.
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