Timberwolves can’t afford to give up on Andrew Wiggins yet

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 08: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 08: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

With Andrew Wiggins now making way too much money, the pressure for him to improve or be traded is high. The Minnesota Timberwolves need to be patient.

Five years into his NBA career, Andrew Wiggins has failed to make any drastic improvements in any area of his game. In the first year of his five-year max contract, the pressure is on for him to either make a leap soon or the Minnesota Timberwolves to make a trade.

Before the trade deadline, rumors swirled over the possibility of Wiggins being dealt. Teams supposedly checked in with the Wolves to see if they were interested in trading the former no. 1 overall pick.

The case for dealing Wiggins is easy to make. He was paid for the hope of future improvement and he hasn’t shown that this season. For every efficient 30-point performance, there are two or three stinkers to follow it up. He hasn’t shown a consistent motor on defense and rebounds when he chooses to. He isn’t a good passer.

According to Cleaning the Glass (subscription), Wiggins has never been better than the 36th percentile among wings in effective field goal percentage. He has been good at the rim in his career but is shooting a career-low 56 percent this season. He improves on his 3-point frequency each year but not his percentage. What gives?

It’s a tough question to answer. It was understandable for him to take a step back with Jimmy Butler in town, but he played just about a month with him this season and yet is posting very similar numbers to last season.

At (almost) 24 years old, Wiggins is just a couple years away from his prime. And yet, his lack of improvement thus far makes it fair to question just how much higher Wiggins can rise as a player.

His best season was his third year in the league when Wiggins averaged 23.6 points (45.9/35.6/76.0 shooting splits), 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. After acquiring Butler, Wiggins’ points per game dropped down to 17.7 last season and stand at 17.9 this season. His shooting percentages have dropped across the board.

Wiggins has been a bit better since Butler was traded but has still been terribly inconsistent and nowhere near those career-high numbers of 2016-17.

All of these factors have pushed many Wolves fans into wanting to move on from Wiggins. With his annual earnings set to rise over the next four years, he is going to be even more of a burden if he can’t make drastic leaps in multiple parts of his game.

At the same time, though, the Wolves can’t just give up on him quite yet. He’s still very young at 24 and has been through a lot of drama. Having to shift into a smaller role after his best season disrupted some promising development in his game.

While this season has been nothing short of a disappointment, it’s too early to consider moving on from Wiggins. With a more stable situation in Minnesota, Wiggins has an environment more equipped with the ability to help him grow his game.

With all that the Wolves have been through with Wiggins, letting him go to an organization that could possibly develop him into a star while getting a light return in a trade would be a major gut-punch and an embarrassing chain of events.

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Being patient with Wiggins is key for the growth of this young Minnesota team. If they jump the gun and trade Wiggins before he reaches his prime, it could be catastrophic for the future of the franchise — namely the happiness of Karl-Anthony Towns.