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After Missing 21 Games, Andrew Wiggins Has Finally Returned To The Warriors At The Perfect Time

Christian Petersen. Getty Images.

Well this is obviously pretty big news for the defending champs as we enter the final week of the regular season. The last time we saw Wiggins play was on February 13th against the Wizards, when he was fairly dominant in a 29/7/4 showing on 12-22 (3-6) shooting

Since that win, the Warriors are 12-10 with the 14th ranked offense, 14th ranked defense, and 13th ranked net rating. I wouldn't exactly say they've thrived in his absence, but they survived. Now sitting in the top 6, that's really all that matters. When you miss a key rotation player for 21 games, treading water is a win in my book. Everything that was on the table for them in mid February is still on the table on early April, only now the Warriors get to add one of their better two way players into the mix. 

We all remember how important Wiggins was to the Warriors title, and I would include some highlights but I don't exactly feel like triggering myself today. The point is, he was nails in that run and will be just as important this time around.

There of course were a bunch of rumors and speculation as to why Wiggins was away from the team for so long, and based on Sham's latest reporting, it was all bullshit

So, I say let's focus on what this means for the Warriors as they begin their title defense. Remember, they also just got Gary Payton II back, who just like Wiggins played an important role in that title run.

The point is, the Warriors are getting healthy/guys back at the perfect time, and that matters.

Just look at the different lineup combinations during their season. 

You all see that top one right?

Curry/Thompson/Draymond/Wiggins/Looney

Ortg: 128

Drtg: 106.1

Net rating: +21.9

AST%: 78.3%

Uhhh, those numbers are fairly insane. You can't play the "small sample" card either, because 331 minutes together is a pretty decent chunk. If you're curious, that would be the best Ortg in the NBA, the best Drtg in the NBA, and easily the best net rating in the NBA. 

Donte DiVincenzo has done a decent job of filling in for Wiggins in that lineup while Wiggins was out

Ortg: 108

Drtg: 97.6

Net rating: +10.5

AST%: 72.0%

but there's no denying they become way more dynamic on both ends with their intended rotation. Wiggins was having another solid year for GS (17/5/2) which is basically what he did last year, only this season he's been slightly more efficient (47/39%).

His return is something that just makes the Warriors that much more terrifying as a lower seed. If they manage to stay in the top 6, do you think teams like SAC/PHX are going to be pumped to play a fully healthy Warriors team? Let's say things stay close this final week and they somehow drop a spot to 7th and win the Play In. I'm pretty sure a MEM/GS matchup would be a goddamn war.

If they somehow drop to 8? Congrats on the great season Nuggets, your reward is a fully healthy GS team and a motivated Steph Curry!

To me, the Warriors are the ultimate wild card. On paper, a healthy squad is terrifying. At the same time, even healthy, this team couldn't win on the road. They were just 19-18 in the games that Wiggins has played this year, but things are obviously different at this stage of the season. Remember, that group with Wiggins hasn't lost a playoff "series" yet. I suppose you could count the Play In losses in 2020-21, but that's not a playoff series now is it? 

As I said this morning, all I want for these playoffs is for every team that makes it to be fully healthy and have all their guys ready to roll. The Warriors getting Wiggins back now to get a few games under his belt before a possible Play In/playoff series is a big deal when thinking about how things might shake out in a very competitive West, the same way a team like PHX getting KD back is a huge deal and the Pelicans getting Brandon Ingram (and maybe Zion!) as well. 

I imagine the family/personal stuff was probably pretty serious if it kept Wiggins away for so long, but now that he's back what matters is how long it takes him to get into basketball/game shape. There isn't a ton of time left to get reps in, and there's no denying a healthy and locked in Andrew Wiggins can absolutely wing a title race. We literally just saw it.