SAN FRANCISCO — Andrew Wiggins spent six years playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he believes he has found a much better basketball home competing in a “winning culture” as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
After playing against the Timberwolves on Monday for the first time in his career, the soft-spoken swingman made it clear he is more comfortable playing in the framework of the Warriors’ “organized” team.
“They’re a championship team,” Wiggins said after scoring 23 points and grabbing six rebounds, while explaining some of the differences he sees. “It’s very positive over here, very positive, everyone’s getting along. No egos, nothing like that. Everyone just wants to win. It’s just a winning attitude, winning culture, everything is about winning. And we all want to get better, everyone is lifting each other up, cheering for each other, so it’s all love over here.”
Wiggins, a former No. 1 overall draft pick who was acquired by Minnesota as part of a deal that sent former Timberwolves big man Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, admitted it felt different playing his old team for the first time.
“I was excited,” Wiggins said. “Felt good playing against my former team. It was good to see them and catch up and obviously compete. It’s all love for those guys; it’s part of the business. I feel it takes competitiveness to the next level. I feel like we did our job and that we got the win, most importantly.”
The difference in Wiggins’ game through the first month of this season is in the consistency. After years of up-and-down play in Minnesota, Wiggins has been much more determined to bring a solid effort every night, especially on the defensive end. Warriors teammates and coaches have repeatedly praised Wiggins for his newfound defensive prowess, with Warriors star Stephen Curry saying recently that the team has started calling him “Two-way Wiggs.”
Wiggins reaffirmed that reputation in Monday’s 130-108 win with three steals and three blocks in 30 minutes.
“He’s really competing on that end,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said of Wiggins after the game. “Since he’s been here, he’s shown that he’s a very capable defender; and he’s taking that up a couple of notches this year, which has been great for us. He’s really changing the game on that end for us.”
Wiggins credited the detailed nature of the Warriors’ culture as one of the reasons he has performed so well with his new team.
“For sure it’s different because everything here is organized,” Wiggins said. “You know what you’re doing every night, you know what you’re getting yourself into, you know the minutes you’re going to play, you know your rotation. There was a couple years like that in Minnesota where you know everything. I was with Coach Thibs [Tom Thibodeau]; Thibs was very organized. And Thibs was very clear; he was very straightforward.
“That’s one thing they do here: They’re very straightforward. They’re not going to sugarcoat nothing. There’s no trick questions. So it’s good.”
Wiggins — who was acquired last season as part of a deal that gave the Warriors a future first-round pick from the Timberwolves and sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota — said earlier this season that this is the happiest he has felt in his career.
“I know he’s enjoying it, and we are enjoying having him here,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s been a great addition to our team. This is just how the NBA goes. Most players are subject to circumstance, and I think we have a really good situation for Andrew. It’s not easy being a No. 1 pick and trying to carry a franchise. That’s only a job a select few can take on. I just think Andrew is in a good place. He’s doing everything we’ve asked, and defensively, he’s been fantastic. He’s a joy to coach, in a good rhythm on offense and a great addition to our team.”
Kerr couldn’t help but chuckle when asked if a win over the Timberwolves meant a little more given that the Warriors have the rights to the team’s future first-round pick, which is top-three protected in 2021 and would be unprotected next year if it doesn’t convey.
“Yes,” Kerr said. “I’ll be honest.”
Wiggins also was honest when asked if he would like to finish his career with the Warriors, given the early success he has had with the team.
“I would love to,” he said. “It’s a great organization. They treat me with love and respect here. Treat my family good. So I don’t see why not? I would love to.”