Wiggins and the Wolves have begun to solve their own puzzle
Has it finally happened? Has Andrew Wiggins finally taken the leap to stardom that NBA fans have been waiting for him to take for the last four years? He is starting to become the player that Timberwolves owner, Glen Taylor, envisioned when he made Wiggins promise to him that he would get better before signing him to a five-year 146.5 million dollar contract.
Wiggins came into the season as a very talented but forgotten player in the league. He was ranked outside of the top 100 list on basically every site that made one. He made it clear going into the season that he felt disrespected by these player rankings as he told ESPN, “There’s not 100 players better than me, so it doesn’t matter what people think. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My job is to come out here and hoop, and that’s what I’m going to do.” Perhaps the preseason disrespect has driven Wiggins to bring the best out of himself.
So far this season Wiggins is averaging 25.9 points per game to go along with 3.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds, all are career highs. He has already posted three 30-point games and one 40-point game.
The improvements in Wiggins’s game are astonishing. After showing little improvement over his first five years in the league, he is now posting career highs in basically every statistical category. The one thing that sticks out though is how efficiently he has been scoring. Wiggins is shooting 47.8 percent from the field while shooting 36.1 percent from three. These numbers are good on their own but when you realize that he’s attempting a career-high 6.5 threes per game, and has attacked the basket more often averaging seven shots in the restricted area this season as opposed to just 4.9 last season, you can see that his approach has changed.
Timberwolves’ head coach, Ryan Saunders, should see some credit for the improvement of Wiggins as he has adopted a modern style of basketball and has Wiggins playing with confidence. Tom Thibodeau wasn’t the right hire for a young Wolves team, as he had a defense-first mentality with an outdated style of coaching that just doesn’t work in today’s game.
A knock on Wiggins for years has been that he puts up empty numbers. Meaning that his stats don’t contribute or add up to wins. But this season the advanced stats say that Wiggins is actually contributing to wins on the court. For the first time in his career, he has a positive VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) at 0.3. He also has a positive Box plus/minus for the first time in his career at 1.4, which is a huge leap from his previous career-high which was –2.1.
With his hot start to the season, Wiggins has put himself at the top of the most improved player discussion. Wiggins is trying his best to shed the dreaded ‘bust’ label that many fans, including myself, have given him. As long as Wiggins keeps playing like this, and as long as the Wolves keep winning games, no one will have a choice but to show Wiggins a little bit of love.