With the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency approaching, the hypothetical trade rumors are increasingly flying around. In almost every situation in which the Warriors acquire a star player in a trade idea, Andrew Wiggins and his salary are practically guaranteed to be included in the outgoing package.
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop believes that Wiggins's salary is the difference between teams fighting over him, and avoiding him.
"If he just made less money, then everybody would love him," Abbott said on the latest episode of the "Runnin' Plays" Podcast. "It's because he also is tying up so much salary cap space that this becomes a fraught decision."
Wiggins also carries the "bust" label with him, ever since he came into the NBA as one of the most highly regarded prospects in league history. Despite putting up high scoring totals with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he never reached a level of consistency or efficiency to jump into the upper echelon of star players. Abbott thinks that Wiggins' development stalled in one key area.
"Wiggins never got a fantastic, beautiful handle, which frustrated every other thing he wanted to do," Abbott explained. "Going where you want to go with the ball, suddenly doesn't happen. He's been a limited player. We would want him to shoot a little better. These are the kind of improvements that can happen when you have a team that is very good at giving you space."
"It might be that [the Warriors] were absolutely genius giving him a shot."
Therein lies the reason the Warriors are excited about Wiggins: The chance of him improving into the player that some in the front office believes he is capable of becoming. That optimism revolves around the change in scenery from Minnesota to Golden State, where he will have new teammates, new coaching and a whole new system.
"Andrew Wiggins is an age where he can still improve," Abbott said. "They can put him in situations where he has a more defined role, not trying to be a superstar anymore.
"When you are the go-to scorer on a bad team, you're playing long minutes and you're exhausted on offense. And you just can't play hard every second. If you play fewer minutes, in a more limited role, then he can go hard. It would be very beneficial for him to play 100 percent the whole time."
According to Abbott, not only is the team perfect for Wiggins, but Wiggins might be just what the team needs as well. If nothing else, just to bring youth and fresh legs to support the big three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
"This is an older team," Abbott said. "You want to have some players on the roster that have the potential to blossom over the course of the season, and to mop up big minutes while people are resting."
At the end of the day though, how the Wiggins experiment plays out will rest solely on his ability to buy into his new role on offense, and put in the effort on defense to become a weapon. Normally players that have been in the league for six seasons already should not be counted on to change their game dramatically. Yet Wiggins entered the NBA at only 18 years old, and Abbott thinks that his youth will help him develop.
"At 25, he might get a lot better."