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Warriors’ ‘fantastic’ Andrew Wiggins’ helps Dubs to feel-good win over Bulls amid trade rumors

Still wondering why the Golden State Warriors might hang on to Andrew Wiggins and his pricey long-term contract past the trade deadline amid his career-worst struggles? Beyond his declining value league-wide, look no further than the impact the former No. 1 overall pick made in his team’s much-needed 140-131 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

A surprise starter in the Windy City along with Dario Saric, Wiggins ensured that controversial decision from Steve Kerr paid off, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and a season-high eight assists on 8-of-13 shooting. Those solid box score numbers are certainly a step in the right direction for Wiggins, who’s been among the least efficient high-minute players in basketball this season. Even more encouraging was the all-around energy and vigor he played with on Friday, somewhat of a surprise as swirling trade rumors threatened to further rock his shaky confidence.

After the game, Steve Kerr lauded Wiggins’ performance, singling out his third-quarter defense on Bulls rising star Coby White as a catalyst behind the Warriors’ dominant second half.

“I thought Wiggs was great,” Kerr said. “Played a fantastic game, but he pressured Coby White to start that third quarter, and I think we were just a little more physical.”

Andrew Wiggins’ get-right game fuels Warriors’ win

Wiggins scored nine points in the first quarter, including Golden State’s first five of the game. He fought hard on the glass, was consistently active as a cutter and put his athleticism to use off the bounce, either getting all the way to the rim or finding open teammates after drawing extra defenders. A red-hot White exploded for 21 points in the first half, but managed just four points on as many shot attempts following intermission with a dogged Wiggins hounding him across the floor.

A rising tide lifts all boats. On Friday night, that meant Wiggins closing out the Dubs’ hard-earned win alongside Jonathan Kuminga, an ineffective tandem throughout 2023-24 that Kerr recently said he wouldn’t go back to. There’s no doubting the Warriors’ theoretical ceiling is highest with both of their long, athletic, versatile forwards on the floor together, a peak the team scraped while putting away the Bulls late.

“I think putting them with Dario helped spread the floor, and I thought both JK and Wiggs were just playing such great games that you gotta throw ‘em out there,” Kerr said. “They were two of our best players tonight.”

It’s far too early to say Wiggins has broken out of his extended slump. He’s enjoyed isolated outings like Friday’s previously this season only to fall even deeper back into the hole of which it seemed he’d finally climbed out for good. But just like his individual play, the fact Golden State finally found success pairing Wiggins and Kuminga against Chicago is a development the front office will keep in mind as the February 8th trade deadline draws closer and closer—especially if it proves a harbinger of what’s to come once Draymond Green makes his imminent return to the floor.