Andrew Wiggins shot selection is complicated

Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images /

Andrew Wiggins’ shot selection can only be described in one way. It’s complicated.

In an NBA climate where the 3-pointer is king, Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t gotten onboard just yet. The Wolves shoot the second least amount of 3-pointers at 23 attempts per game.

23 attempts is slightly more than the previous year. In the 2016-2017 season the Wolves finished last in the NBA in 3-pointers at 21 attempts per game.

Wiggins is, and has always been, a mid-range specialist that can get to the rim with ease given his explosive first step and his breathtaking ball moves. (

Videos are credited to 

That spin move is a thing of beauty. He also has a remarkable ability to hit difficult, highly contested shots. Many of those shots tend to be fading, turn-around mid-range jumpers.

Yep, that’s the one. That type of mid-range jumper is a cornerstone of Wiggins’ offensive game. However, the amount of contested mid-range jumpers he shoots is something NBA analytical purists would scoff at. Below is a


of where Wiggins has takes his shots this season.

Painted area: 43 percent

Mid-range: 31 percent

3-pointers: 26 percent

Roughly only a fourth of Wiggins’ shot attempts are from beyond the arc, which one would assume would roughly align with his historical shot selection. However, that would be false. Wiggins has taken a big step forward with his 3-point attempts this season. The table below shows this same percentage breakdown in his

previous years


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Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 8.07.40 AM /

Given that Jimmy Butler is an additional playmaker that was absent from last season, Wiggins is finding himself in more catch-and-shoot situations. Wiggins’ catch and shoot attempts are up 31 percent so far this season.

That’s a good thing right? Well, sort of; he hasn’t capitalized yet. The table below shows Wiggins’ shooting percentage based upon the distance of the closest defender at the time of the shot. Thus, showing his shooting percentage based on how contested the shot is:

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Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 8.00.43 AM /

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is what we would call a downward trend. So technically the more contested Wiggins is, the higher likelihood he is at making the shot? By the numbers, yes. Although, there are other factors at play. That being, shots closer to the rim tend to be more contested and shots further from the rim tend to be less contested.

Regardless, it is fairly concerning Wiggins isn’t shooting a high percentage when he is wide open. Below are two sets of videos showing Wiggins missing an open 3-pointer and making a contested one.

In this first video above Wiggins seems to have too much weight angled backward.  His jump shot naturally does that, but his weight backward seems to be exaggerated on this shot.

Compare that to the second video where Wiggins doesn’t fade backward after he lands. This indicates his body weight is moving forward throughout the entire shot. Let’s take a look at a different set of examples below.

In this set, notice Wiggins’ hands on his follow through. The first video he drops his hands almost immediately after the shot. In the second video, however, he keeps his shooting hand up as he watches the ball go in the basket.

Okay, so what does it all mean? It means that Wiggins is seeing more open 3-pointers has in any point in his career, but sometimes his concentration lapses when he is absurdly open.

That isn’t necessarily abnormal. I think a lot of players have a tendency to not replicate their normal mechanics when a shot isn’t at game speed. When you are that wide open it can sometimes take you out of the normal flow of the game.

So, the natural “what if” question becomes, “what if Wiggins hits a higher percentage of his open 3s?” Well, considering Wiggins is second on the team in scoring, roughly one point per game behind Karl Anthony-Towns, I don’t think it is inconceivable that Wiggins could lead the Wolves in scoring.

It also means that Wolves already very good offense could be even better. Currently, the Wolves hold the fifth best offensive rating at 108.3. That trails only the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Perhaps Wiggins shot is trending upwards. He seems to have found his stroke from downtown as of late. In his last four games, he is shooting 48 percent from three compared to a season clip of 33.7 percent.

Regardless if Wiggins is a leading scorer or not, it certainly gives the Wolves another dimension offensively. If Wiggins’ defenders have to stay home on him and not help, it creates that much more driving and passing lanes for his teammates on the floor. And if he hits those wide open threes, it is possible the Wolves could crack the top 3 in offensive rating.