The Minnesota Timberwolves have a bright future due that’s going to be through some ups and downs, this year and the next one, but in Andrew Wiggins, it’s safe to say they have one of the next NBA superstars.
Wiggins didn’t do something we haven’t seen before in the win over the Miami Heat (103-91) that stopped his team’s losing streak. He scored 24 points on only 8-of-21 from the field, got to the line to finish with 8-of-11 and added some steals and blocks on the defensive end, where he’s been as good as ever. But he has the confidence and the attitude that’s going to keep his development going in the right direction and quickly become the leader of this team, and already it’s most important player.
One of the funny things about the Wiggins story is that he went number one in the draft because Joel Embiid got injured. That led to landing with the Cleveland Cavaliers and once LeBron James got there, it meant shipping him to Minneapolis to play with the Timberwolves. A chance for him to carve out his own slice of a franchise and lead it, not develop behind James, which isn’t usually what a number one pick is about (although maybe it should be?).
Wiggins is averaging 20.9 points per game this season despite playing less minutes than last year. He’s playing a lot more shooting guard which makes it more comfortable for him on both ends of the floor, averaging 4.3 points more per 36 minutes than last season while improving his defensive rating, although that has to do with Karl-Anthony Towns joining the team and looking like a grown up, developed big man with less than one month of NBA basketball under his wings.
Wiggins isn’t shooting exceptionally well, maybe taking too many long jumpers (30.6% of his shots) instead of developing more of an inside, low post game, or something of a post up game. At 6’8, regardless of a small forward or shooting guard defending him, it’s difficult to slow him down. Think of an improved version of the younger, raw Paul George. Wiggins is shooting well from three (36% so far this season, 5 percentage points better than last season), no complaints there.
But his dunking might be the best thing. It doesn’t always work, like his attempt to dunk on Hassan Whiteside that didn’t work out (with Rubio blocking Whiteside on the other end). Wiggins has an attitude of dunking on anybody in his way. Besides being a better selling point for a young NBA rising star, it becomes a weapon of his, and he needs more of those when he’s with the ball. The Timberwolves and Wiggins will be through some painful lows before they make the playoffs again, but his first All-Star appearance isn’t too far away, and neither is his first postseason game.