Batman needs Robin.
But right now, the Warriors’ Batman, Stephen Curry, is surrounded by a team of Alfreds.
This is not a winning formula for the Warriors for the remainder of the season.
Golden State is on a three-game losing streak, and with all three losses coming to teams with elite big men, there has been plenty of consternation in the fan base over the Warriors’ size.
But the Warriors’ biggest issue so far this season is players — and if we want to be serious, one in particular — not playing up to the size of their role.
While the Warriors might be deep, the lack of a clear No. 2 has left Curry to singlehandedly carry the burden of winning every game.
The two-time MVP still plays at a superhuman level, but he can only do so much. I shudder to think of what happens to the Warriors if he’s not around.
One stat encapsulates how isolated Curry is this season: He’s the only Warrior to score more than 20 points in a game.
It leaves the Warriors with a strict formula to victory that gives them a chance to win every night but leaves little margin for error.
First, Curry needs to score 30-plus points per game. (The Warriors are really taking this man’s greatness for granted.)
The second part is that the Warriors must play top-level defense, holding their opponent under 110 points.
And finally, the Warriors need to score somewhere in the range of 75 points with quality team basketball — transition buckets and back-cuts off of set plays.
You can guess where the breakdown most often happens.
Placing the secondary scoring burden on the collective leaves too many points of failure.
What Curry needs is someone else in the muck with him late in games — someone who could, on a big night, be the team’s leading scorer.
Chris Paul is past that point in his career. He’s brought many positives to the Dubs, but he did not bring a time machine to San Francisco.
Upstart Jonathan Kuminga is not ready for that job yet. He might never reach that level.
Klay Thompson once held that No. 2 role. Sadly, he doesn’t appear to be capable of that anymore following two catastrophic leg injuries. Thompson’s smaller reserve of athleticism is also strained by his new defensive responsibilities, which require him to take on opposing big men. (A role he has played well.)
But all that’s OK — the Warriors believed they prepared for Thompson’s demise.
After all, Andrew Wiggins was the second-best player on a title team.
And after a strange 2022-23, the Warriors expected Wiggins to put that behind him and return to that same level of play this season.
Instead, things remain bizarre.
After 11 games, where does Wiggins fall on the hierarchy of positive impact for the 2023-24 Warriors?
He’s certainly not second.
Is he even top-five?
Wiggins has played every game for the Warriors this season, but you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t noticed him. The wing averages 10.5 points per game, shoots 41 percent from the field, and has made four 3-pointers all season.
That’s half of what the Warriors need from him. Wiggins is the team’s fourth-leading scorer.
There are several excuses I’ve heard for Wiggins’ underwhelming offensive play.
Blame has been placed on his rib injury, picked up in Game 5 of the Warriors’ second-round series with the Lakers last season. Wiggins had a left costal cartilage fracture, and while he played in Game 6 of that series, he was a shell of himself.
Cartilage fractures can take up to a year to heal — that stuff is finicky. It wouldn’t shock me if his ribs were still bothering him.
At the same time, Wiggins and the Warriors haven’t blamed — or even acknowledged — that injury this season, so can we pin his struggles on it?
The other excuse I’ve heard is that it’s simply bad luck — that he’ll come around soon enough.
I get that argument. The season is still young.
And if it was a player other than Wiggins, that might hold more weight.
Wiggins’ nickname might as well be “The Enigma.”
This player’s talent — save for a few weeks in the fall and spring of 2022 — has consistently exceeded his performance. His love of the game has been questioned by former teammates, coaches, and scouts alike, with plenty going on the record about it.
And remember, Wiggins is the player who left the Warriors for two months at the end of last season for circumstances that remain not fully explained and have been deemed verboten by the team months later.
He’s a player who cashed in his elite performance in the 2022 playoffs with a contract that paid a little more than half of his market value. There are hometown discounts, and then there are strange contracts. Wiggins’ deal fell dangerously close to the second category.
It’s all just a bit too peculiar to write off his struggles as solely lousy luck.
Wiggins is not only clanking shots all over the floor, he’s shooting less frequently this season, shooting four field-goal attempts fewer per game. His four games of fewer than 10 points scored are already more than he had in each of the last two seasons.
No matter what the reason behind Wiggins’ slow start is — if there’s a reason — the need is the same: He needs to snap out of it fast.
No one else on this Warriors can or will consistently rise to the role of No. 2. It’s Wiggins or bust for the Dubs.
This season’s Warriors aren’t going to be juggernauts, but they can replicate the model that won them the title less than a year and a half ago. A big part of that team’s success was a solid start to the season.
I think they can exceed that team’s level of play. This team is more talented.
But all that roster depth doesn’t matter much if it’s just Curry and a stable of role players.
But the 2021-22 Warriors had three All-Stars: Curry, Draymond Green (on the back of his defensive prowess), and Wiggins.
This season, just like last, they’re back down to one.
We saw how well that worked last spring.
Improved team talent can compensate for missing that third All-Star — it can’t do the same for missing two.
And without that No. 2, the Warriors will be a second-tier team, at best.