Stephen Curry is clearly the frontrunner for the Finals MVP award if the Warriors can find a way to close out the Boston Celtics.
But there’s now a case to be made for Andrew Wiggins.
With a team-high 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field, Wiggins carried a struggling Curry and the rest of the Golden State Warriors to a pivotal Game 5 win over the Boston Celtics. After seizing control of the series, head coach Steve Kerr spoke highly of the former No. 1 overall pick.
“He’s definitely confident, he’s definitely enjoying the playoffs,” Kerr said. “He loves the challenge, he loves the competition. He’s found such a crucial role on this team. I think that empowers him. He knows how much we need him. He’s been fantastic.”
Game 4 was the “Stephen Curry Show” after the two-time MVP scored a whopping 43 points to pace all players. But Monday night was far from that. In fact, Curry scored just 16 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the floor.
Enter: Andrew Wiggins, who understood what his assignment was. In addition to the 26 points he loaded his stat sheet with, he also rebounded the ball exceptionally well, recording 13 boards.
“I think though out the playoffs, he’s rebounded well,” Kerr said. “I think it’s just a sense of what’s needed and being on this team where he’s got veteran guys who are helping him to understand what we need from him. He’s just using his athleticism in a lot of different ways and he’s just been fantastic. Not just in this series but through out the playoffs.”
Considering this is Wiggins’ first NBA Finals appearance, the numbers he’s been producing have led some to make the case for Wiggins to be in the running for the Finals MVP award if Golden State does, in fact, win the title this season.
It’s something the Warriors couldn’t have imagined would be the case but they will gladly accept as they hunt their fourth championship in eight seasons.
“We knew we needed his athleticism and his defense and his versatility. We had no idea that he would make this kind of contribution,” Kerr said. “But I think it’s a reminder that for almost every player in the NBA, circumstances are everything. You kind of need to find the right place, the right teammates, that kind of stuff and Wiggins has been a great fit.”