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Golden State Warriors hopeful Andrew Wiggins returns this season

Golden State Warriors star forward Andrew Wiggins has missed the past 20 games due to a personal issue. Typically, absences of this ilk are explained with details about what a player is going through.

That has not been the case for the tight-lipped defending champions. We still have no idea why the All-Star forward has been sidelined since last suiting up Feb. 13 against the Washington Wizards.

What we do know is that Golden State needs his two-way ability on the court if the team is going to repeat as NBA champion. While that plays second fiddle to what Wiggins is dealing with off the court, it’s been a central focus as the NBA regular season draws to a conclusion.

Following the Warriors’ thrilling comeback win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, star guard Stephen Curry addressed the Wiggins situation. He remains hopeful that the former No. 1 pick will be able to return before the end of the season.

“We’d love to have him and hope that that does happen, because we want to be whole and I’m sure he wants to be a part of this. But when he walks in the door, it’ll be when it’s the right time for him. That’s kind of the expectation at this point.”

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry on Andrew Wiggins’ status

By virtue of the Warriors’ win over New Orleans on Tuesday, they are currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference with a 40-37 record. However, Golden State is just a half game up on the Minnesota Timberwolves in an attempt to avoid the play-in tournament. It also loses the tiebreaker against Minnesota after blowing a late lead Sunday evening.

Related: Golden State Warriors standing in our NBA power rankings

Importance of Andrew Wiggins for the Golden State Warriors

golden state warriors' andrew wiggins
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

With Wiggins, the Warriors have to be seen as one of the top contenders out west. Without Wiggins, they could be looking at a premature exit in the NBA Playoffs.

Thus far this season, Golden State is 21-19 in the 40 games that Wiggins has missed. But that doesn’t come close to telling us the entire story. His two-way presence for the Golden State Warriors during their playoff run last season was something to behold.

Wiggins averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds during the playoffs while being tasked with guarding the likes of Luka Doncic, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. His performance against the latter two and their Boston Celtics team during the NBA Finals was eye-opening.

  • Andrew Wiggins stats (2022 NBA Finals): 18.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 45% shooting

Golden State doesn’t necessarily need Wiggins’ scoring with Curry doing his thing, Klay Thompson in the midst of a major bounce back season and Jordan Poole taking that next step. In fact, Poole is averaging 20 points per game since Wiggins last played.

Instead, it’s all about his elite-level defense. Wiggins can guard multiple positions out on the perimeter and has proven capable of banging with big bodies inside.

With a potential first-round playoff matchup against former Warriors star Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns looming, having Wiggins on the court would be a boon.

But as we’ve seen throughout this entire process, the Golden State Warriors firmly believe that basketball plays second fiddle to whatever Wiggins is dealing with personally. That’s the way it should be.

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