Trading three of the team’s top four scorers as February’s NBA trade deadline approached and subsequently signing five more players to 10-day contracts left the team’s roster with a different look from its Opening Night roster back in October. Enter Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Mychal Mulder.
Though their time on the court was limited as the Dubs’ season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each displayed a diverse and beneficial skillset on the hardwood.
Forward Andrew Wiggins came to the Bay via the trade deadline deal on Feb. 6, 2020 that sent guard D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though Wiggins played in just 12 games with the squad before the pandemic brought the Warriors’ season to an abrupt halt, he made his presence felt while on the court.
Through his five-plus seasons with the Timberwolves, Wiggins proved himself to be a reliable scorer, having averaged 19.7 points on 44.1 percent shooting from the field and 33.2 percent on 3-pointers while adding 4.3 rebounds per game. Besides his on-court basketball talent, Wiggins became known as a basketball iron man: in his tenure up north, Wiggins missed only 10 games in his first five seasons while averaging 35.8 minutes played per game, which ranked fifth among active players at the time of the trade.
Despite Wiggins’ consistency and durability, some critics felt he could achieve even more at the NBA level.
“Let’s see what he can do next to a group of players who have been wildly successful over the last few years,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said in an interview just after the trade.
The early results were positive for the new Warrior.
Wiggins got right to work with the Warriors and averaged 19.4 points with 4.6 rebounds, nearly identical stats to what he had produced through his career. But Dub Nation got to see an additional side of Wiggins that was not highlighted earlier in his career: his defense.
Though a small sample size, Wiggins’ averages of 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game through his short time with the Dubs was higher than any season he had with Minnesota.
Besides being a clear contributor on both sides of the ball for the Warriors, his teammates have enjoyed getting to know Wiggins.
“I love Wiggs,” said Damion Lee on a recent episode of the Runnin’ Plays podcast. “You can tell he knows how to play the game and wants to continue to learn more. If there were any questions or if there was anything he wanted to know, he’s trying-trying-trying to be a sponge and just trying to learn as much about the culture and about how we do things versus how he did it in Minnesota.That’s how you know someone wants to be great: they keep asking questions, they get engulfed in just learning and watching film.”
As a small forward, Wiggins slides into the starting lineup alongside Draymond Green in the frontcourt with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at the guard spots. Lee sees Wiggins fitting right into the lineup: “There’s definitely a role that will be carved out for him, and I feel like he will take full advantage of it.”
Guard Mychal Mulder initially joined the Warriors on a 10-day contract after playing the first half of the season with the G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. He payed in seven games with Golden State (including three starts), where he amassed an average of 11.0 points per game. Mulder displayed no fear of shooting the three-pointer as he made 2.3 shots from beyond the arc on a 30.8 percent clip while also being a relentless defender in the few appearances he made prior to the end of the Dubs’ season.
But who is this player that seemingly came out of nowhere to spark the team and Dub Nation?
“My road was long,” said Mulder in a recent interview as his journey to the NBA included going undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft and three seasons in the G League. But the patience and determination paid off as Mulder made such an impression in his 10 days with the Warriors that he was offered a multi-year deal.
“Coming out of high school, I was a guy that was a little bit under-recruited,” said Mulder. “I decided to go the JuCo (Junior College) route… I was fortunate enough after that experience on a great team to be recruited by some good teams and ended up deciding to go to the University of Kentucky where I played with some of the top guys you see in the league right now.” Kentucky teammates of his included Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings) and Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat).
Though many of his teammates were drafted into the NBA, Mulder’s name was not called on draft night. “I decided to go that G League route,” Mulder said, noting that he passed on international opportunities to continue playing under the NBA umbrella. “I just knew if I approached it the right way there, really embrace the grind, that eventually an opportunity would present itself and it was just my job to be ready for that.”
And grind he did as Mulder took his time in the G League to continually improve on his scoring. After posting 9.2 points on 32.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc in his first season, Mulder finished his third season with 17.0 points on 39.7 percent from three-point distance with 9.7 attempts per game prior to his 10-day deal with the Warriors.
Through the limited number of appearances at the NBA level, Mulder posted four games with double-digits in scoring, including 15 points in his first career start on a 5-of-10 night from beyond the arc against the Denver Nuggets and 18 points with three treys against the Philadelphia 76ers. Both of those teams are in the top 10 of limiting opponents’ scoring and have clinched playoff spots in the NBA’s restart in Orlando.
His play caught the eye of Head Coach Steve Kerr, who was a talented shooter in his playing days as well.
“He’s a really good player,” said Kerr after Mulder’s third game with the team on March. 1. “I’m impressed not only by his shooting, but his defense… He accepts the challenge, plays bigger than he is.”
The blend of skills Kerr highlighted made Mulder an exciting role player for the Dubs’ backcourt.
One of Dub Nation’s own turned their basketball dreams into reality when Juan Toscano-Anderson, a native of Oakland, made his NBA debut on Feb. 8 with his hometown Warriors. Toscano-Anderson’s path was long and unconventional as he went from college to playing professionally in Mexico before joining the G League, but ultimately his determination was rewarded with a call-up to the Warriors.
Toscano-Anderson was more than just a Cinderella story though, as he proved himself to be a reliable role player for the Dubs.
Through his 13 games at the NBA level, the forward demonstrated defensive versatility while being aggressive on the glass as a rebounder. The rookie shot 34.8 percent on three-pointers, too.
“He knows what he is doing and understands the game and plays with a lot of confidence,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said of Toscano-Anderson after a Feb. 23 game. “He understands the flow, spacing and timing. He is constantly moving, making the right cut, the right read and just never stops. He plays with a lot of good energy.”
Simply put: “Juan is really a fun player to watch… He’s a fun guy to coach,” said Kerr.
The success of Toscano-Anderson comes as no surprise to anyone who has been watching him in the G League. Prior to his call-up to Golden State, Toscano-Anderson was in the midst of his best season with the Santa Cruz Warriors where he was averaging a near-double-double with 12.6 points and 9.2 rebounds with 1.3 steals per game.
But Toscano-Anderson was a positive influence in Santa Cruz off the basketball court, too.
He’s just an incredible guy,” said Santa Cruz broadcaster Kevin Danna as he recounted stories of the Bay Area-born hooper purchasing dinners and caring for the G League staffers. “We just love him down here, and I can’t wait to see him suit up for Golden State.”
That love and care for community has continued through the offseason as Toscano-Anderson has been actively promoting social justice within the Bay Area, demonstrating his leadership off the court.
Though they came in as late additions to the Warriors’ roster and had limited run with the team due to a shortened season, all three of these players provided a boost for the squad in their own unique ways.