Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 and KSTP in the Twin Cities suggested on Wednesday that Andrew Wiggins is unhappy with his role as the third option in the Timberwolves’ offense.
The Timberwolves offense has been one of the best in the league this year with four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler leading the charge and first-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns as the clear second option, scoring efficiently when called upon.
Andrew Wiggins has slipped from being the top scoring option on bad teams in each of his first two years in the league to the third-option on the 2017-18 edition of the Timberwolves.
Here’s the rumor, transcribed from Darren Wolfson’s radio appearance:
And, a follow-up:
So far this season, being the third-option has meant that Wiggins is the third choice to handle the ball in the pick-and-roll behind both Butler and Jeff Teague, and has seen his number of post-up opportunities dwindle. Often times, Wiggins has been relegated to standing on the perimeter and waiting for a kick-out (where he’s just a 32.5 percent 3-point shooter this season) or a last-second foray to the rim.
Wiggins remains third on the team in usage rate, behind Butler and Jamal Crawford, but, somewhat surprisingly, has taken over the field goal attempt per game column at 15.9 per contest while Butler clocks in at 15.8 and Towns is down at just 13.8 shot attempts per outing.
It’s understandable that a super-talented, ultra-competitive individual like Wiggins would be frustrated by seeing his role shrink. And, as Wolfson notes, it’s unlikely that Wiggins will be a true distraction down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs given his overall demeanor.
It was just earlier this week that Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Teague openly praised Wiggins to the media after his impressive performance in Sunday’s win over the Warriors. Wiggins himself noted that he settles for contested jumpers too often, and that he’s better served driving into the paint. (It’s worth pointing out that Wiggins’ free throw rate has plummeted to just .242 attempts per field goal attempt after a career mark of .393 heading into this season.)
As we’ve noted plenty-often here at Dunking With Wolves, Wiggins’ best role in Butler and Towns-led offense is as a cutter. He should only be shooting jumpers when open and to keep the defense honest, and should be used sparingly in the pick-and-roll game. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, Wiggins is now rumored to have issue with just that role.
We’ll have to wait and see if this turns into anything; athletes are competitive and this could easily be a mountain-out-of-a-molehill situation.
But it bears watching, especially as Towns appears to be in the process of breaking out in a big way in Butler’s absence, and Wiggins has, to this point, largely been along for the ride.