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Steph Curry claims Warriors’ play-in fail helped Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole

NBA

Steph Curry claims Warriors’ play-in fail helped Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole

It’s easy – and understandable – to write off the Warriors’ last two seasons prior to their current playoff run.

And rightly so. After five consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals, Golden State trudged through injury issues to a measly 15 wins in 2019-20, followed by 39 wins and another season without playoff basketball in the Bay in 2020-21.

Steph Curry, however, firmly believes those two lost seasons – and specifically, the Warriors’ frantic rally into the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament – were critical in building up Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins to where they are now.

Both players arrived in the Bay during the 2019-20 season – Poole as a first-round pick and Wiggins via a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. And both had their growing pains.

On April 9 of last season, the Warriors lost to the Washington Wizards to fall to 24-28. But Golden State turned a corner and finished the regular season by winning 15 of its last 20 contests. The Warriors’ hot stretch propelled them to a 39-33 record, the eighth-best in the Western Conference, and into the play-in tourney where they fell short with back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.

“[Wiggins] felt the intensity, “Curry said Sunday of Golden State’s late-season run in 2021.” That was one of the things we talked about last year, like we gave it everything we had down the stretch to even get to that position. We would have loved to have a playoff series to go through those reps to see if we could have put something together.

“But those two play-in games and those last 20 games were great for us to build an understanding of how you value every possession, the intensity you need to have to win games like that.”

RELATED: Kerr: Wiggins trade ‘key move’ to resuming Warriors dynasty

Poole averaged 14.5 points and shot 35.1 percent from deep over those final 20 contests, including a 38-point burst against the New Orleans Pelicans that was his career high until he dropped 40 on the Orlando Magic this season. Learning what winning looks like at Chase Center, Wiggins logged 20.4 points per game in that span.

Now, both players are starring for the Warriors and are big reasons why coach Steve Kerr’s club is one win away from getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We obviously finished the season strong record-wise, but did not reach the ultimate goal,” Curry said. “[Wiggins] felt all of that. JP felt all of that. And it’s carried over to this year for sure. And it’s carried over into this playoff run, where [Wiggins] seems just very composed and under control and understanding what he needs to do on a nightly basis, and I hope he feels the recognition for – it’s not exactly what it looks like on the stats sheet. It’s what it looks like from the eye test and how it impacts the game and how it impacts us winning. “

Sometimes, you learn more from the losses than wins.

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