27 Year Old Warriors Star, Called “Next LeBron James”, Sounds off on Immense Pressure From the Tag

Published 07/12/2022, 7:30 AM EDT
Mar 19, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) reacts after basket during the first half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

When promising young players enter the league, their skills and potential are often compared to those of the established stars. Some embrace this pressure from the onset, while others succumb to it. Andrew Wiggins was one of the players who felt this pressure when he was dubbed the “next LeBron James.”

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Andrew Wiggins brought his talents to the NBA as the first overall pick in 2014. The Canadian national was viewed as one of the best prospects to enter the league since LeBron James. The forward, like James, was originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. So obviously, the comparisons were inevitable.

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Andrew Wiggins was seen surrendering to that pressure in his initial years. His stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves showed promise, but it fell well short of the outrageously lofty expectations. Wiggins recently voiced his thought process after being selected first overall. He also discussed the pressure he encountered after being labeled the “next LeBron James.”

“There was definitely pressure, especially being from Canada, just knowing the whole city is watching, the whole country is watching, the whole country wants you to do good,” Wiggins said.

“They’re calling you the next LeBron, stuff like that,” he added. “Ain’t nobody’s gonna be the next LeBron! That’s 1 of 1. I’m there, trying to do the best I could in Minnesota.”

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Wiggins, in his initial years, showed signs of brilliance. However, he was nowhere near what James accomplished at that point in his career. Nonetheless, Wiggins decided to make a statement and truly turned countless heads last season.

Andrew Wiggins did not become the next LeBron James, but he made an impression last season

Andrew Wiggins’ stint with the Timberwolves proved fruitless. He averaged 19.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the team. The numbers appear solid and brought him the reputation of being a good player. But he never cemented himself as a franchise player.

After failing to deliver results with the Timberwolves, he was acquired by the Golden State Warriors in the 2020 offseason. And last season became the campaign in which the forward completed his redemption arc.

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He was instrumental in the Golden State Warriors’ triumph over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. After Stephen Curry, Wiggins was perhaps the Dubs’ best player in the playoffs.

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Wiggins blossomed in a supporting role with the Warriors after being forced to carry the Timberwolves on his shoulders for several years. He shook off the prior season’s shortcomings and silenced all his naysayers.

Playing with Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green unleashed his talents. He established himself as one of the league’s finest 3-and-D wings and blossomed into the two-way bulldog he always desired to be.

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Wiggins might not have been the LeBron James material that many predicted. But he carved out a niche for himself last season, earning his first All-Star start. And it’s fair to presume that from here, the only way is uphill for the 27-year-old.

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Ritvik Malhotra

353 articles

Ritvik is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Having completed his Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University, Ritvik has finally got his foot in the door as a professional sports writer. He previously interned at another media house where he authored over 150 soccer articles, but he is now writing about his primary obsession, basketball.

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