Andrew Wiggins and D'Angelo Russell

How Should We Feel About that Andrew Wiggins Trade?

Basketball NBA Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins is absolutely tearing it up for Golden State right now. In game three of the Western Conference Finals last Sunday, Wiggins had a playoff-career-high 27 points, 11 rebounds, and this fucking Luka Dončić poster. The Mavs managed to contain him in last night’s game four, but the Warriors are up 3-1. We’re going to see Wiggy in the Finals.

It’s a tale as old as time — Minnesota team trades player, player contends for title; Minnesota team relocates, team wins title. Minnesotans are used to watching former teams players succeed somewhere else, and it sucks. But how should Wolves fans feel about this one? Let’s take a closer look at the Andrew Wiggins trade.

The Andrew Wiggins Trade: A Recap

D'Angelo Russell drives on Andrew Wiggins

When the Wolves traded Andrew Wiggins to Golden State in February 2020, Minnesota was 15-35. They had just lost their 13th straight game. Karl-Anthony Towns was fucking pissed.

The Warriors were, shockingly, even worse. Klay Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL, and Steph Curry broke his finger in October, had surgery, and played only five games. Golden State finished four and a half games behind Minnesota.

The differences between the two franchises were obvious: Minnesota was a perennial loser. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins were given the team’s two max contracts, but the Wolves had little to show for it. Golden State, however, was a dynasty in suspended animation. Russell, acquired from the Nets for Kevin Durant, was just an extra chip to an already stacked franchise—an asset to barter as they waited on their stars to heal.

A score-first point guard on a team with Steph Curry, D’Angelo Russell didn’t fit with the Warriors, but he was best buddies with a very, very ornery Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota had its eye on Russell even before 2020—point guard had been a black hole for them since before the 2007 Rubio-Flynn draft. But it was Russell’s friendship with Towns that sealed things. Wanting desperately to keep Towns happy in Minnesota, a deal was struck.

The Warriors agreed to the swap Russell for Wiggins, but only if they got a 2021 first-round pick, too. The Wolves agreed, sending a top-three protected 2021 first.

Wiggins Renaissance

Andrew Wiggins dunks on Luka Dončić in Game 3 of the 2022 Western Conference Finals

Wiggins has blossomed alongside Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. In 73 games this season, he averaged 17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and was named an All-Star starter. Suddenly Wiggins’ contract didn’t seem so insane. Wolves fans were feeling fleeced. We gave up a starting All-Star* and the seventh-overall pick for KAT’s buddy?

*Is he, really, though? We need to talk about fan voting.

Yeah, but Remember D’Angelo?

D'Angelo Russell embraces Karl-Anthony Towns at the end of a Minnesota Timberwolves game.

The Warriors selected Jonathan Kuminga with their Wolves’ pick, and he might be a stud. Or, who knows, he could suck. Between him and Wiggins it’s easy to forget about what Minnesota got in the deal. And D’Angelo Russell was kind of awesome this year.

He didn’t make the All-Star Team, but when he got healthy he averaged 18.1 points (35th overall) and 7.1 assists (11th overall) for (say it with me) a playoff team. Oh, and the Wolves got Anthony Edwards first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Things sting less when you’ve got a 20-year-old with First-Team All-NBA potential (bless his knees and keep them healthy).

The Kerr Curry Effect

Andrew Wiggins gets advice from Steph Curry on the Warriors' bench

It’s likely that only Golden State could have made Wiggins an All-Star*. His range and athleticism on the wing is not only a perfect fit with Curry, Thompson, and Green, but his new team demands excellence, whereas the Wolves just hope for it. (Until now, hopefully). Wiggins and his fellow role players all float on the Warriors’ championship-level tide (Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney, too). Sure, Wiggins could still be in Minnesota. But for what? Putting up gaudy stats while losing games is so fucking hollow.

So how should we feel? Don’t hate. This worked out for everyone. Be happy for Wiggins. He is a captive orca released to the open ocean. He’s Free Wiggy. He is making Luka look human. It’s fun as hell to watch.