Minnesota Timberwolves: Recent history of player development failings

Deputy Commissioner of the NBA Mark Tatum (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Deputy Commissioner of the NBA Mark Tatum (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine
SACRAMENTO, CA – OCTOBER 29: Andrew Wiggins #22 and Zach LaVine #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2014 Draft – Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Glen Robinson III

The 2014 draft was one of the most important in Timberwolves history.

Trading away Kevin Love from the team to secure two former No. 1-overall picks in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett signified the Wolves were 100 percent in on building a strong young core, and they obviously needed to get something for jettisoning an All-Star in his prime.

Wiggins, of course, now has a max-contract attached to his name and LaVine landed a big contract of his own in Chicago after he was traded in the deal that brought Jimmy Butler on board. Robinson III has bounced between the G League and the NBA since spending half his rookie season in Minnesota, and is currently on a guaranteed contract with the Pistons.

Wiggins is probably the weirdest case of them all when it came to reviewing all Timberwolves draftees.

Over his first three seasons, Wiggins made steady improvements in scoring and field goal percentage while (albeit slowly) growing his productivity in other areas of the game, but since Butler arrived in town in the summer of 2017 and Wiggins signed his max deal in the fall of the same year, things have been largely stagnant.

During the 2016-17 season, Wiggins was averaging 23.6 points on 45 percent shooting and adding 2.8 rebounds per game. While his rebounds have increased to 3.6 per game, his shooting has fallen to 17.9 points on 39 percent so far in the current season.

Beginning with the firing of interim head coach Sam Mitchell and the hiring of Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden, 2016 saw a number of front office changes for the team, and it’s clear that the lack of a consistent vision complicates things. But just how much is a difficult thing to pinpoint.

It’s worth noting that a number of players have moved on have enjoyed increases in their productivity since moving on from the Wolves, whether that is experience-based growth that would’ve occurred no matter where the player was is uncertain, but Zach LaVine is perhaps the best example of this growth.

In his three seasons with the Wolves, LaVine averaged 13.7 points, 3.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds. Since he’s been in Chicago, LaVine has managed 21.1 points, 3.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. His bigger role has obviously contributed to the stat increase, although he is playing less minutes than he was in his final season in Minnesota.

Robinson III hardly played in Minnesota, but he’s been a sought-after player even while bouncing from team to team.