The number one draft pick in 2014 wasn’t on the winning side of his NBA preseason debut, but Andrew Wiggins did everything expected of him and more playing his first game for the Minnesota Timberwolves as they lost to the Indiana Pacers. Who knows, maybe his abilities will be able to hide the fact that Ricky Rubio still looks awful when it comes to scoring.
If Rubio somehow breaks through this wall denying him from becoming a respectable and consistent offensive threat and not just a fun passer and OK defender, the Timberwolves are a really dangerous team. For now, beginning their post Kevin Love era, it’s just a fun team to watch, with a player like Wiggins that makes them a bit more interesting than usual. Wiggins finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks while showing some impressive 3-point shooting ability.
Everyone knew he was a great athlete which often translates into very good defense. Wiggins probably has All-Defensive potential written all over him. If he can take care of his outside shot, he’s going to be a superstar for the Timberwolves very soon. For now, he seems to be in a good system to develop his offensive talents, starting alongside Rubio, Corey Brewer, Thaddeus Young and Gorgui Dieng, at least until Nikola Pekovic is activated.
The Pacers are quite the intriguing project themselves. No Paul George for the entire season and without Lance Stephenson, leaving to Charlotte. It might mean that Roy Hibbert is going to become a bigger part of his offense and will try to put last season’s ending behind him. He scored 8 points and showed more than just put back skills when he was near the basket. The big surprise, at least in this game, was George Hill.
Hill finished with 17 points, adding 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Hill is another player who’ll have to step up his offensive production and be a lot more aggressive from the first moment to the last. He has pulled too many disappearing acts in postseason of recent past, and now that it’s C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey playing next to him on the perimeter, he’s going to need to bring more to the table if the Pacers are trying to avoid missing the playoffs this season.
Zach LaVine also made his debut for the Timberwolves with 5 points and a lot of misses off the bench. His arrival and introduction, hopefully finding his place and rhythm quite quickly, will mean the Timberwolves can stop using J.J. Barea, a player they’ve been trying to get rid of for quite some time.
This doesn’t look like a playoff team, but at least they’ll be fun to watch, with a lot of room for personal growth; Wiggins in the center of it. In the East, Indiana might be able to look better than the doom prophecies of this offseason foretold, but it’s going to take the kind of coaching we still haven’t seen from Frank Vogel, and also a new individual high for both George Hill and Roy Hibbert, who need to put confidence and form problems behind them.