Andrew Wiggins confident 2021-22 Warriors are 'championship-caliber team'

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Why Wiggins believes Warriors are 'championship-caliber team' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – Andrew Wiggins, generally reserved if not downright laconic, minced no words Sunday when discussing the Warriors’ potential this season.

“With all the pieces we have,” Wiggins said after practice, “I definitely think we’re a championship-caliber team.”

After missing the NBA playoffs in each of the last two seasons, the retooled Warriors are widely considered a top-five team. Only the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers have appreciably better betting odds to win the 2022 NBA Finals, and Golden State’s 5-0 preseason moved it fairly even with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

“We’ve got some talented young guys, some talented old guys, a good mix of guys,” Wiggins said. “We should be good defensively and we have a bunch of guys who can put the ball in the hoop, so I think it will be a special year for us.”

The Warriors added veteran free agents Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica, and also brought back Andre Iguodala, a key member of the teams that rolled to five consecutive Finals, winning three NBA championships.

Wiggins pointed out that 22-year-old guard Jordan Poole continues to improve – he’s expected to be the starting shooting guard in the season opener Tuesday – and that crucial reinforcements James Wiseman and Klay Thompson are “going to come back soon.”

Wiggins’ surprising display of assurance was only slightly stronger than that of coach Steve Kerr, who also conveyed conviction in the team’s return to the ranks of serious contenders.

“Our expectations are definitely higher this year than they have been in the last couple years,” Kerr said. “It’s the way the league works. You need to step it up at key times, as a coach, as a team.I think we’re going to have a really good season.”

Kerr’s only caveat, and it exists for every team, is health. With Wiseman not expected back until sometime in November and Thompson projected return before the end of the calendar year, the Warriors could be without a significant portion of their rotation for at least the first 30 or so games.

RELATED: Wiggins still couple weeks away from optimal conditioning levels

Assuming Wiseman and Thompson rejoin a healthy team, there’s every reason to believe any confidence is warranted.

Meanwhile, the Warriors have to be good enough to win a majority of their early-season games to maintain belief that there can be a rainbow at the end of the regular season.

“We know the potential of Klay and Wise, but it starts now,” Wiggins said. “We’ve got to do the work now and set the tone so that when those guys come back, it’s there.”

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