Opposing teams aren’t the only thing in the way of the Golden State Warriors’ path back to the postseason. According to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, Andrew Wiggins is still refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. If he doesn’t get vaccinated, it could result in him missing home games and losing a ton of money due to the city of San Francisco’s vaccination rules.
In this scenario, Wiggins would only be allowed to play away games and would miss out on over $350,000 for games missed. If the team or league started to fine Wiggins for lack of service, it could get even uglier. Simmons says Wiggins could receive a religious exemption from the NBA, but that wouldn’t guarantee him playing because San Francisco has its own rules.
This would hurt the team in a major way if this issue doesn’t get resolved. The beginning of the season includes nine home games out of 12 total. The Warriors are already missing Klay Thompson and James Wiseman. Adding Wiggins to the list of absent players would just be pouring salt into the wound.
Last season, Wiggins was the Warriors’ second-leading scorer. He averaged 18.6 points on a career-best 47.7% shooting from the field. The team didn’t make the postseason, but without Wiggins, the team wouldn’t have made the play-in tournament. While taking on scoring duties, he also accepted the challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player nightly.
He was the team’s iron man, only missing one game last season. It was a year where keeping players on the court was the Dubs’ most prominent issue. Out of last year’s starters, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green played the second-most games, tied at 63 each. The Warriors played a long stretch of games toward the end of the season with only eight players.
As great as Green was last season, Wiggins was the second-best player on the team. When the media turned on him, he never complained, instead just keeping to business as usual. When things were going wrong for him, his confidence never seemed to diminish. He was the best version of himself last season, and the Warriors need that Wiggins, at least until Thompson is back.
This roster, on paper, might be more talented than last season’s squad. If Wiggins misses games, it could be an enormous chemistry issue. Players would once again play in roles that aren’t for them, with players Steve Kerr only planned on playing a few minutes per game playing larger minutes. If more injuries hit, the Warriors would end up in a situation similar to last year, with a player like Juan Toscano-Anderson at 6-foot-6 starting at center.
No team has been hit with injuries like the Warriors the last two seasons. Thompson hasn’t played a game since the ACL injury in the 2019 NBA Finals. Once the 2019-20 season began, the Warriors lost their MVP in Curry to a broken hand after appearing in only five games. In that same season, Green missed a chunk of time because of injuries. He played in 43 games and played his lowest minute total since being a starter in his third season with 28.4 minutes per game.
Last season around this time, Warriors fans started to get excited about their team again. That was until Thompson went down with his second straight season-ending injury (Achilles). Green missed training camp and a few games because of COVID-19 along with Wiseman. The rookie center ended up having a meniscus injury later that year. It ended Wiseman’s season, and he only played in 39 games out of 72 possible.
Wait, it’s not over. Near the end of the season, Curry suffered a tailbone injury. He was out during a critical time in the season, with the Warriors right in a position to secure a playoff spot. Curry couldn’t shake the injury, and it caused him to miss games here and there. Once the play-in tournament ended, teammate Kent Bazemore let the cat out of the bag and said Curry was playing with a hairline fracture. Days later, the team confirmed his statement was true.
Once again, with the season weeks away from starting, the Dubs are dealing with previous injuries and potentially a new one with Wiggins refusing to take the vaccine. Hopefully, the situation is figured out before the start of the season, but the clock is ticking. Wiggins could decide to get vaccinated or leave his fate of playing home games in the hands of the city of San Francisco. Until a decision is made, it looks like more trouble is ahead for the Golden State Warriors.