The NBA has scheduled a three-day reunion when the Minnesota Timberwolves and host Golden State Warriors begin a two-game sequence Monday night in San Francisco.
The Timberwolves and Warriors were involved in one of last year’s biggest in-season trades when Minnesota dealt Andrew Wiggins and two draft picks to Golden State for D’Angelo Russell and two others in February.
The clubs had already completed their three regular-season games in 2019-20, so Monday will be the first time they’ve met since the transaction nearly 12 months ago.
The No. 1 pick of the 2014 draft, Wiggins left Minnesota after 5.5 seasons as its all-time leader in three-pointers (520). He was also second to Kevin Garnett in points (8,710), fifth in games (442) and steals (436), and 10th in rebounds (1,922) and assists (1,022).
His numbers are down slightly playing alongside Stephen Curry on the Warriors, but he’s rarely been more consistent. After being held to 13 and 12 points in his first two games this season, he responded with between 15 and 27 points for 13 straight games — the second-longest run of his career — before leaving early with 13 points in Saturday’s 127-108 blowout loss at Utah.
He’s currently averaging 17.4 points this season for the Warriors, after going for an average of 21.8 for the Timberwolves and Warriors last season.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said Wiggins’ contribution to the Warriors increases daily and goes far beyond any numbers.
“It’s a matter of catching Andrew up to speed with what we like to do here,” Kerr said. “(We’re) really trying to make an impact on him regarding our process and how we like to do our business and how we can help him get better and how he can help our team get better.”
Russell was a bigger scorer for Golden State in his 33 games there after having been a consolation prize when the Warriors lost Kevin Durant to Brooklyn in a sign-and-trade in July 2019.
He helped open the new Chase Center in San Francisco with the Warriors’ two biggest outputs last season — 37 and 35 points — with the former standing as the arena record for a player from the home team until Curry poured in 62 earlier this month against Portland.
Despite getting dealt during the season, Russell finished the year as the Warriors’ leader in 3-pointers (120) and was second in points (779).
Labeled by many as a “rental” when acquired by Golden State, Russell admitted recently his stay in San Francisco was less than ideal.
“You know it’s going to be temporary,” he noted, “so everything you come across, you have a temporary mentality with this. I didn’t enjoy that. But that’s what my life was at the time.”
Russell was rested Saturday against New Orleans on the second night of a back-to-back. The Timberwolves will get Tuesday off before meeting the Warriors for a second time in San Francisco on Wednesday, maximizing Russell’s chances of playing in both games.
The Timberwolves won’t have Karl-Anthony Towns in the two-game set as he continues to deal with COVID-19. Minnesota won for the first time in five games in his absence Saturday, getting a second career double-double from Jarred Vanderbilt (16 points, 11 rebounds) in a 120-110 victory over the Pelicans.
–Field Level Media