Minnesota Timberwolves Roundup: Wiggins’ role, rumbles of Thunder

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07: Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07: Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves still have to find out what, exactly, they’re going to do with Andrew Wiggins as they head into next season.

Andrew Wiggins is already entering his sixth season in the NBA, and the Minnesota Timberwolves — along with everyone else that follows the league — is still waiting for him to take a step forward.

The 2015 Rookie of the Year hasn’t improved much at all since his initial campaign, only ticking upwards marginally in long-range shooting and on the defensive side of the ball but still lacking any semblance of consistency.

New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas would be forgiven for simply cutting bait with Wiggins, even in a neutral trade. The five years and $147.7 million on his contract is beyond an albatross, but there were still rumors that teams were still willing to give up something of value back at February’s trade deadline if Minnesota was prepared to pull the trigger.

Fill-in front office boss Scott Layden wasn’t in a position to make a move of that magnitude at the time. Then-interim, now-permanent head coach Ryan Saunders has always been a fan of Wiggins and the two are apparently quite close, so perhaps that has something to do with Rosas’ apparent reluctance to move on from Wiggins so far during his still-young period of time in charge.

More likely than not, Rosas’ plan is to see if they can convince Wiggins to play a more efficient game in the flow of the offense. Basically, all but eliminating the contested long 2-point attempt and turnaround jumpers from his arsenal. Those are shots that worked for Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, but Wiggins isn’t exactly on a Hall-of-Fame level at this point.

If Wiggins gets back to attacking the rim as a cutter and shooting more corner 3-pointers, he could be a positive contributor. It’s highly unlikely he’s worth anything close to his contract value, but if he can play well for the team this season, that contract will suddenly be even more palatable for other teams around the league.

Want a peak at what the Wolves may be planning for Wiggins? Well, if you’re analytically-inclined, check this out, from early last week:

If you aren’t familiar, each of the spots on the floor in the above graphic appear to be expected point values from a shot attempted in each area. The green is over one expected point per attempt, while the red areas are below a point.

The Wolves want Wiggins to attempt shots at the rim (according to this chart, that’s a point expectancy of 1.3) and get to the line more often (1.57 expected points per trip). He’s still a slightly below-average 3-point shooter, but he could still stand to shoot more of those than long twos.

At any rate, Wiggins’ usage will once again be a hot button issue and something to watch closely as the Wolves start playing games this fall.

Elsewhere, one of the lead writers at The Oklahoman, Berry Tramel, penned a lengthy piece making the case for the Oklahoma City Thunder flipping Chris Paul for Wiggins.

It’s an interesting idea, albeit not an original one, and one that we’ll delve into a bit more this week here at Dunking With Wolves. But some of the leaps made by Tramel are … lengthy.

Here a few:

"Wiggins is not a bad player. He’s just not been a great player. A good player making great money can kill payroll structure.…Some franchises have the royal jelly, and the Thunder absolutely fits into that category. Some franchises do not, and the Timberwolves absolutely fit into that category.What if Andrew Wiggins is a really good player, a potential star, who has just been mired in a bad situation? A franchise of constant change and turmoil. A franchise without a direction. A franchise without structure."

On the contrary, Mr. Tramel. Wiggins has largely been, by almost any metric, a bad player for much of his first five seasons in the league. He’s not a “good player making great money”.

Also, it’s a bit presumptive to assume that the Thunder have the “royal jelly” (this is explained in the article, but still sounds ridiculous). And sure, the Wolves are dysfuntional, but there have been plenty of other players who have managed to develop in spit of the situation. All-Stars such as Kevin Love and Karl-Anthony Towns and solid players like Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic have managed to be plus contributors in spite of constant change.

Later in the piece, Tramel compares Wiggins’ situation to Chauncey Billups. It’s a clunky comparison, at best, but here we are.

Next. Breaking down Jake Layman's role with the Wolves. dark

Stay tuned for some more thoughts on the idea of a Wiggins-for-Paul trade, however unlikely it might be that it comes to fruition.