Andrew Wiggins: Timberwolves 2015-16 Player Preview


This is the first piece in a series of articles that will look at each individual player on the Timberwolves roster heading into the 2015-16 season.

The NBA season is slowly but surely coming upon us. In preparation for the season, I’ll be profiling each player on the Minnesota Timberwolves heading into the 2015-16 season. Where else to start than with 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins?

Wiggins’ rookie season included many ups and downs, which is expected for any rookie in any league or any sport. He ran away with the Rookie of the Year award, dominating the voting by earning 110 of 130 first place votes. He was far and away the best rookie in the NBA last season, there’s no question about that. Heading into this season, however, one question emerges regarding Wiggins.

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How much better will he be this season?

There’s no reason to believe he’ll take a step back from last season. Not only is he going into this season with a year under his belt, but he’s also bulked up in the offseason, and it’s actually pretty noticeable. One of the knocks on Wiggins is that he’s fairly thin for his height. While that still may be true, he appears much more built than last season.


Adding that extra muscle will help Wiggins in all areas of the game, there’s no doubt about it. However, it will be the biggest help to Wiggins on the defensive end of the floor.

Feb 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13)backs into Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 113 to 102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Wiggins spent nearly his entire rookie season defending the opponent’s best wing scorer, meaning he defended guys like James Harden and LeBron James on a nightly basis. He’s already got the defensive instincts and quickness to defend these type of players, but that added strength could help him take that next level as a defender.

Last season, Wiggins was exceptional as a perimeter defender as he held players he defended to just 37% shooting on shots longer than 10 feet away. While 37% isn’t spectacular, it’s still pretty impressive when you consider who the players he was defending most of the time. This is a testament to those defensive instincts and quickness that help him stay in front of players and contest shots well.

However, on shots less than 10 feet from the rim, Wiggins allowed players he defended to shoot a field goal percentage 9% higher than they did against league-average defenders. This just shows how Wiggins tended to get outmuscled when he defended in the post last season. Again, that added strength should help him in this aspect in his sophomore season.


Offensively, Wiggins was the only legitimate scoring threat on the Wolves roster for a majority of the season. Due to a bunch of injuries, Wiggins found himself carrying the load as a rookie. Still, he managed to put up 20.0 points per game after the All-Star break, which is when the team was most impacted by injuries. With Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and Kevin Martin all healthy and the addition of Karl-Anthony Towns to the roster, Wiggins will have far less pressure on himself offensively and should have more room to operate.

A knock on Wiggins’s offense during his rookie season was his efficiency. Quite frankly, Wiggins was pretty inefficient last season despite what appear on the surface to be solid offensive numbers. For example, people were fascinated by Wiggins’ pull-up jumper last season, even though he actually shot just 30% on those shots — pretty poor. Overall, Wiggins registered a PER (player efficiency rating) of 13.5 last season (league average is 15).

For more proof of his inefficiency, see the shot chart from his rookie season below.

I’m not trying to condemn Wiggins here, because inefficiency is to be expected with young players, especially 19-year-old rookies. Moreover, as I eluded to previously, he was asked to do a ton for this Wolves offense last season, especially after half the team went down with injuries. He became the only legitimate scoring threat on the roster, a responsibility that isn’t generally thrust upon the shoulders of a rookie. Eventually, Wiggins will take on that role and possibly thrive, but he’ll need more experience before that happens.

Overall, Wiggins should improve on this efficiency this season as he gains experience and plays with better talent around him. We should see a lot less red in his shot chart by the end of his sophomore season.

Statistical Outlook

It would be quite shocking if Wiggins’ numbers didn’t improve from last season. His monthly points per game average increased as last season progressed, as he averaged 12.3 points per game in November and 23.3 in April. With (hopefully) less injuries and less pressure on himself, Wiggins should put up more consistent numbers this season on the offensive end.

Something around 19 points per game for Wiggins in 2015-16 seems about right. He and Kevin Martin will likely battle for scoring supremacy for this Wolves team. Wiggins should also increase his rebounding to something like six boards per game and his assists to three or four per game. Again, more experience and more talent on the team will impact these statistical increases.

Lastly, I’ll return back to the issue of Wiggins’ efficiency. Look for Wiggins to get that PER bumped up to at least the league average of 15, if not better. Additionally, his shooting percentage could jump a couple percentage points to something around 45% and three-point percentage to something around 34%.

The name of the game here is small and steady increases for Andrew Wiggins each season. As long as we see that from him, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a superstar one day.

All stats are courtesy of

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