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Andrew Wiggins scoring evolution evident in Warriors season opener

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SAN FRANCISCO – Every defense looks for the opposing player’s weakness. For Andrew Wiggins, his inconsistency on the 3-point line caused problems during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He forced a lot of contentious shots and tended to shoot long 2-point shots – a shot that is essentially forbidden in the modern NBA. These were just two factors that contributed to him being labeled as a losing player for the T-Wolves.

He rejected the idea during his time with the Warriors and ripped him apart during the playoffs last season. And now he has turned a weakness into a strength.

“I worked hard,” Wiggins said on Tuesday night. “I try to put myself in game situations, different situations. I know this team likes to shoot three-pointers a lot, so I try to make myself like the other guys — I work on my shot and try to knock three-pointers down to be effective.”

Wiggins was definitely a hit in the Warriors’ 123-109 season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center on Tuesday night. He scored 20 points, finishing second on the Warriors after Steph Curry’s 33. Wiggins was 14v8 effective from the field and caught four of his seven shots from beyond the arc.

Wiggins hit 33.2 percent three-pointers in his six seasons with Minnesota. The former #1 overall draft pick has shot over 33 percent only once with the T-Wolves from there. When the Warriors took him in the 2019-20 season, they were only able to hit 33.1 percent of their three pointers that season. Then, in the 12 games he played for Golden State before the season ended, that number rose slightly to 33.9 percent.

A full season as Warrior has given us a brand new Wiggins. He set a career-high 38 percent for 3-pointers in 2020-21, giving him a career-best 54.3 effective shooting percentage. The next season he developed again as a long-range option, this time consuming 39.3 percent of his three-pointers.

This was a better clip than any deep-shot by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole. This again led to his 54.3 effective shooting percentage and his first trip to the All-Star Game.

So, are the improvements he’s made a testament to Steve Kerr’s system and the talent around Wiggins, or more a result of his work ethic? The greatest shooters of all time see it as a combination of the two.

“Both,” Curry said. “You need to be prepared for your opportunities outside, but at the same time, he just sees the gaps, sure he knows he’s going to touch the post, pick-and-roll and hit a few out of three, too.

“It’s just for him to be determined. Whenever he does it, it’s usually positive that he’s determined and aggressive – no matter what. He’s very confident in his ability to do it.”

After being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the T-Wolves a month before draft night, Wiggins has long sought a home. He found himself in Minnesota more than once in trade rumors. It finally paid off in the 2020 trade date, with the Warriors bringing him to The Bay and making an absolute heist.

When she arrived, she and Poole quickly bonded. They both tend to be a little reserved and reserved, and their bond has grown on and off the court. Now, the two of them are safe in their San Francisco home. Over the weekend, they each signed four-year contract extensions to remain the Warriors and be big cogs in the expansion of this dynasty.

Poole is known as a gym rat and has seen all the work Wiggins has done since he got here. Wiggins knew he needed to make another splash after last season rather than being complacent. When Poole was asked about Wiggins’ progress as a 3-point shooter, he grinned as if the season opener was just the beginning for the future.

“Wiggs had been working in the lab all summer on the footage you saw tonight,” Poole said. “He’s going to have a really big year, and that makes him an even bigger threat to see him shoot at the periphery and knock him down like he did tonight.”

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There was not a single space on the floor that Wiggins had. It was everywhere. He dropped a buoy around the circle and threw a dunk. Take it further back and it swung two pull-up jumpers. Go further back and the four threes came from two marks on the right wing, one slightly off center and one in the right corner.

Wiggins has even bounced off two silky stepback trios that look like they were lab-created in the off-season.

The Warriors’ four-headed snake should take an even stronger bite after a championship season where Wiggins took the bag and was finally able to settle down in what he could call home.

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