Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr just wants Andrew Wiggins to fit in.
Wiggins will suit up for the second time for Golden State when the Warriors host the suddenly struggling Miami Heat on Monday night in San Francisco.
Wiggins was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves before Thursday’s trading deadline, and he scored 24 points in a 125-120 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
Wiggins, who will turn 25 on Feb. 23, spent 5 1/2 seasons with Minnesota but never lived up to the billing as a No. 1 overall pick. He was selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 and later was traded to the Timberwolves as part of the package to acquire Kevin Love.
With point guard Stephen Curry (hand) and shooting guard Klay Thompson (knee) sidelined by injuries, the Warriors have the worst record in the league at 12-41 and aren’t in the playoff race, so Kerr is more interested in taking pressure off Wiggins. His only expectation for the forward is for him to sprint hard on both ends of the floor.
“Minnesota needed him to be a star, and we’re not asking him to be a star,” Kerr told reporters. “We’re asking him to play a role on a team that already has some star players.”
The Warriors needed an upgrade at small forward after losing Kevin Durant in free agency after last season.
“It’s a huge addition for us to add Andrew on the wing,” Kerr said. “It’s a position we had to fill, and we feel good about it.”
Wiggins averaged a career-high 23.6 points during the 2016-17 season, but his averages slipped to 17.7 and 18.1 the following two seasons. He averaged 22.4 points in 42 games for Minnesota this season, but the team’s losing culture was affecting him, so he said he welcomes the opportunity to join a Golden State squad that has won three of the past five NBA titles.
“We lost a lot in Minnesota,” Wiggins said. “So coming here, being part of a winning culture, it’s different. Losing’s never fun. Being here, you can tell by everyone’s attitude, approach, everything — they’re winners. That’s something I’ve wanted to be.”
Miami (34-18) is dealing with losing as it arrives in San Francisco with a season-worst three-game slide.
Even new Heat additions Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder, both acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies last week, couldn’t deliver a win in their team debuts on Sunday when Miami fell 115-109 to host Portland.
“Incorporating Andre and Jae was a big plus for us,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said after Sunday’s loss. “They’re veteran players, so they pick up things very quickly. It felt like they have been with us for a while.
“Andre does so many small things. The majority of them probably don’t even show up (in the box score). His IQ level is so high.”
Iguodala, 36, certainly will receive a nice ovation when he enters the game Monday against the Warriors after helping the organization win three championships. He was MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals.
“I’ve played a lot of basketball games in my career, so the emotional highs and lows, I don’t have anymore,” Iguodala said about returning to play against Golden State. “For this team, more importantly, we want to win. This road trip is tough with a lot of guys down. We’ve got new bodies, and us getting a win is more important than how I feel.”
Iguodala had two points and six rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench vs. the Trail Blazers on Sunday.
All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler (shoulder injury) will sit out his third straight game, while rookie reserve guard Tyler Herro (ankle) is expected to miss his fourth.
Backup point guard Goran Dragic was the most productive player against Portland with 27 points and seven assists. Crowder contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds.
–Field Level Media