After a 6-2 start out the gate, things have quickly gone downhill for the Warriors, who have since struggled to find ways to win. As Golden State attempts to turn things around, it is now in search of solutions.
Amid another losing streak, head coach Steve Kerr elected to make changes to the starting lineup, moving 10-year veteran Andrew Wiggins to the bench.
Wiggins, who joined the Warriors ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, took the move in stride but it was certainly a shock. It marked the first time in 657 career regular-season games that the former No. 1 pick would come off the bench.
Why did Kerr move Wiggins to the bench? Here is what Golden State’s lead man had to say about the decision and what it may mean for the team moving forward.
MORE: Panic meter: How much trouble are the Warriors in?
Why is Andrew Wiggins coming off the bench for Warriors?
Ahead of the Warriors’ meeting with the Clippers on Dec. 14, Kerr made a move to employ a new starting lineup, inserting rookie Brandin Podziemski and former lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga in place of Wiggins and Draymond Green, who has been suspended indefinitely by the league.
The change yielded mixed results: Golden State suffered its third consecutive loss but Kuminga finished with 15 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes of action while Wiggins finished with nine of the 39 points the Warriors’ new second unit scored in the game.
And while Golden State fell to 10-14 on the season following the defeat, Kerr has indicated that he will stick with the change.
“It felt like we needed a shift,” Kerr said of his decision. “I feel like Brandin gives us the extra playmaker on the floor in the starting lineup. Obviously, he’s a great rebounder, competes, excellent defender.
“[Jonathan Kuminga] deserves the minutes and with Draymond out, it’s a perfect time for him to step in and it feels like a group that can really connect. And then I like being able to bring Chris [Paul] and Dario [Saric] off the bench to really anchor that unit and we’ve got a deep team — bringing Wiggs off the bench with Moses [Moody], those guys are damn good players. I think we’re deep and I think we’re gonna make a run here. I really believe that.”
MORE: Could a Pascal Siakam trade fix both the Warriors and Raptors?
Kerr added “this group will start the next few games and we’ll give it a good look,” suggesting that this switch is not temporary.
In the first game with a new lineup, the greatest beneficiary of the shift was Klay Thompson, who drained eight 3s en route to scoring a season-high 30 points. Stephen Curry, however, struggled to find his way, scoring just 17 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field, including 3-of-13 shooting from deep.
As Green’s potential return date is unknown, sticking with Kuminga for the foreseeable future is the logical choice. Wiggins’ move to the bench gives him a new role to turn things around for a largely disappointing season.
Through 22 games, Wiggins is averaging a career-low 12.0 points while shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 26.4 percent from 3-point range. During the 2023 playoffs, Wiggins suffered a rib fracture that may have impacted his ability to train in the offseason in preparation for the 2023-24 campaign.
Kerr’s choice to stick with these lineups could alleviate some of the pressure placed on Wiggins, allowing him an opportunity to thrive once he gets accustomed to a role he has never taken on during the course of his career.