Mellow Andrew Wiggins has never been more expressive than at NBA Finals

SAN FRANCISCO – Before the Western Conference semifinals, Stephen Curry urged mellow Andrew Wiggins to show more emotions on the court and get a technical foul.

It’s been about a month since Curry jokingly implored Wiggins to yell at a referee, and Wiggins still hasn’t been assessed a tech. But the mild-mannered All-Star has never been more expressive on the court.

Even Wiggins has surprised himself by his demonstrative behavior this postseason from staring down his opponents to occasionally arguing his case to an official.

“It’s the moment. It’s a big stage, a lot at stake every game,” Wiggins said Sunday after practice at Chase Center. “Everything is just so intense.”

Wiggins knew what people had been saying about him when he was traded to the Warriors during the 2019-20 season.

The former No. 1 overall pick was a bust, didn’t play hard and was an overpaid and ineffective high-volume shooter.

Whether those critiques were fair or not at the time doesn’t matter anymore. Wiggins has shed the reputation he earned in Minnesota as he’s excelled this postseason with the Warriors as he’s played with even more fire.

After having only one double-double during the entire regular season, Wiggins has recorded five this postseason. His most recent was overshadowed by Curry, who dropped 43 points and snagged 10 rebounds in the Warriors’ Game 4 win over the Celtics Friday night. But Wiggins was also impressive and noteworthy as he shot 41.2% from the field for 17 points while grabbing a career-high 16 boards — 13 of which on the defensive glass. He did this while being the primary defender on Celtics star Jayson Tatum.

“He’s a very mild-mannered guy, but he’s taken a leap in these playoffs in terms of his impact on the game defensively, on the glass,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Because the games are obviously so meaningful, there’s more emotion from him and from everybody.”

Wiggins has enjoyed proving some of his biggest doubters wrong this postseason.

“Even when I used to score a lot in Minnesota or do anything special, it’s like, you did that but you’re losing, so no one really cares,” Wiggins recalled. “But doing it on a winning team, it’s appreciated more.”

Wiggins admitted he was bothered by the perception fans and media had of him. But instead of letting those negative feelings festered, he used the narrative around him in a motivational way.

“I always just stayed true to myself and do what I do,” he said. And that’s worked.

But with the Warriors tied 2-2 and Curry carrying most of the load up to this point, Golden State will need more out of players like Wiggins to try to offset some of the toll Curry has taken.

Wiggins needs to continue to bring his infectious energy the rest of the way and find ways to impact the game outside of scoring.

“We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things on the court, whether score, pass, create. So I’m just trying to do everything I can to be on the floor and be effective,” he said.

Contributed by local news sources

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