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Lakers vs. Warriors Preview: Can the Lakers spoil Andrew Wiggins’ debut?

“Andrew Wiggins is a Golden State Warrior” is a sentence I never thought I’d say, but here we are. The Lakers may get the first look at how he fits tomorrow.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are going up against the Golden State Warriors tonight, but this isn’t the same Warriors team that the Lakers handily beat by 26 in their last matchup on Nov. 13, 2019. No, they’re going up against the Warriors in what might be the first game of the Andrew Wiggins era.

On Thursday, the Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves possibly had the biggest trade of the day by sending D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins, a top-three protected 2021 first-round pick that becomes unprotected in 2022, and a 2021 second-round pick.

Many are saying the Wolves won the trade (I agree) but Wiggins is a much better fit for the Warriors than he was in Minnesota. When healthy, they can easily slide Wiggins to the small forward position alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Wiggins will be a #3 scoring option on a team that is defensive-minded and can possibly, again possibly, get him to focus on that side of the court.

That being said, the Lakers aren’t going up against a healthy Warriors team, and Wiggins might be the Warriors No. 1 option on offense if he suits up against L.A.

But if we’re trying to figure out ways one of the worst teams in the league could threaten the Lakers, it’s worth noting that the purple and gold are coming off of a frustrating loss to the Houston Rockets, and something the Rockets and Timberwolves have in common is how undersized they are.

Now, the Warriors aren’t as undersized as the Rockets — or anywhere near as good — but their tallest players are Kevon Looney (6’9), Alen Smailagic, (6’10 rookie that’s only played in 9 games), and Marquese Chriss (6’9). Last time out, and all preseason, the Lakers took full advantage of that size mismatch, even with former Warriors center Willie Cauley-Stein (7’0) on the court. They outscored the Warriors in the paint, 36-64.

This is something the Lakers should try to take advantage of again, but if there is one thing we learned from their game against the Rockets, it’s not something they should really force. They’ve got to just play their normal brand of basketball, and let their size give them advantages naturally instead of isolating to create them. By doing that, they’ll already be taking advantage of the size mismatch.

The Lakers have only lost 12 games this season, nine of which have come in their last 23 games. This shouldn’t be a difficult win, and it’s a win the Lakers could really use to boost morale heading into the All-Star Break. It’s possible no contender needs this mini vacation more, and hopefully they go 3-0 in their next three games before the break... unless Andrew Wiggins has something to say about that (he probably won’t).

The Lakers tip off against the Warriors at the Chase Center at 5:30 p.m. PST. The game will be shown exclusively on ABC.

Notes and Updates

  • As noted above, it’s possible Wiggins is in uniform for this one. If not, the Warriors will really be lacking many players that can be credibly called a threat.
  • Anthony Davis is the only name on the injury report for this one, and he’s probable to play with the right index finger sprain he suffered against the Rockets.
  • We are tracking all the latest updates on Lakers free agent target Darren Collison at this page if you’re looking to keep up with all the developments.

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