What I have seen from Andrew Wiggins from the game against Cleveland, a few days before Christmas, up to now has been nothing short of awesome. As his rookie season comes to a close, Wiggins only seems to be getting better.
Before and after the draft, a lot of people questioned his motor and passion for the game of basketball. Others questioned that and his attention to detail, too.
What those people have failed to realize is that Wiggins has found his motor and passion for the game of basketball. He has also found his focus, too.
Everyone knew that the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season was going to be a lost cause this year. After trading away Kevin Love in exchange for Wiggins, Minnesota began the rebuilding process for the third time since Kevin Garnett was traded in 2007.
Nobody knew what to expect from Wiggins as a rookie. Some thought he was going to be good, some thought he wasn’t going to be a surprise. A lot of young kids were just excited to see his highlights.
What Minnesota fans got, though, is a glimpse into a bright future. While injuries have decimated the team, again, Wiggins, a thin 6-foot-7-inch 19-year old rookie, has stood tall amidst all the commotion.
He has played and started in every single game this season, all 79 of ’em. He never really ran into the proverbial “rookie wall,” either. Over his last nine games, he is averaging 25.1 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 45.4 percent shooting. He has been to the free throw line on average of 10.5 times per game over his last 12 games and has averaged 39 minutes per contest since the All-Star break.
Among rookies, he is far-and-away the leader in minutes played and points scored. He is second in rebounds and sixth in assists. He is now second in win shares, too.
Among all NBA players, Wiggins is 37th in the league in points per game (16.9) and 39th in field goals attempted. He is 20th in the league in free throws made per game and 18th in free throws attempted.
He has accumulated 26 games with 20 points or more and four games with 30 points or more. He has scored in double-figures in 66 games, leading rookies in all said categories.
For the people who will say, “Well, his team isn’t good, so someone has to score the points,” shame on you. This man is evolving into star right before everyone’s eyes.
His confidence has grown consistently, it seems like almost every game. Now, he is able to get to spots on the floor where he knows he can score. He is able to get to the free throw line, almost at will. He is able to get by most defenders on the perimeter. He is starting to recognize double-teams and is able to find the open guy, most times. He is starting to show emotion, something he hardly ever did in college or earlier this season.
I think he can help the Timberwolves win in the future, but management needs to put players around him. That’s asking a lot, because this same management couldn’t put players around Garnett for 12 years.
It will have to start in the draft. Acquiring Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns would be a great start.
I’m all for trying to get Nikola Pekovic off the books.
I don’t oppose trying to move Kevin Martin or Ricky Rubio, either. Both players are injured far too often.
I think keeping Chase Budinger would make sense because he has been very good since head coach Flip Saunders moved him to the stretch-four.
Zach Lavine has shown a lot of promise, too, and has been considerably better as of late.
Gorge Dieng is alright, but I don’t think he is anything more than a very good bench player.
I really like Shabazz Muhammad and I think Anthony Bennett will be alright, too.
But the main focus is Wiggins.
Starting next year, I think Wiggins’ production will start leading this team to victories. It’s hard to win games with a bunch of average-talent and inexperienced players.
Wiggins certainly has a bright future and, for now, it’s going to be with Minnesota.
Hopefully it’s for a long time, too.