Minnesota Timberwolves: Don’t wig-out on Wiggins just yet…

DENVER, CO - APRIL 10: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 10: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MARCH 30: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

What’s the issue with Wiggins?

Consider some of the factors that fans measure when debating Wiggins: the contract, his potential, and results. With Wiggins, one factor alone doesn’t create the schism. The combination of these factors is what frustrate the fans.

Potential is the easiest to evaluate. When drafted first overall in 2014, Andrew Wiggins was a prospect with an incredibly high ceiling. Go back and read the scouting reports from that draft class; Wiggins was ranked higher than any other player coming out of that draft including Jabari Parker (second overall) and Joel Embiid (third overall).

Drafting Wiggins first made the most sense. His ceiling was, and potentially still is, higher than any other wing player drafted that year.

There were few shooting guards and small forwards from that draft who have produced in the NBA with the kind of raw production that Wiggins has. Players like Marcus Smart (No. 6), Zach Lavine (No. 13), Gary Harris (No. 19), and Bogdan Bogdanovic (No. 27) have provided solid wing minutes in the NBA.

Bogdanovic’s numbers from last season are closest to Wiggins this past season. Bogdanovic has a higher 3-point percentage, but Wiggins grabs more boards, blocks more shots and gets more steals.

When he was drafted, Wiggins’ weaknesses centered on playing in a slower system. He was far better in transition than the half-court at Kansas by almost three points per compared possession. According to NBADraft.net, Wiggins’ draft day criticisms included struggling to play through traffic without the ball, dribbling through traffic too high, and settling for long jumpers.

Tyler Lashbrook of SBNation.com offered this pre-draft evaluation of Wiggins:

"“It’s when the game slows down that Wiggins struggles most. He’s not very good at maneuvering through traffic, often dribbling too high in the air while being too reliant on his right hand. This hurts his ability to create offense for himself and others in half-court situations. He also frequently settles for long pull-up jumpers in the pick-and-roll because he isn’t capable of splitting defenses or making advanced dribble moves towards the basket.”"

That scouting report still sounds similar to evaluating Wiggins today.

Wiggins, as a paid professional, is responsible for his game. However, every NBA team has a player development staff. If a player has obvious struggles coming into the league, why are those same struggles still evident in his game going into his sixth season?

Wiggins and the Timberwolves staff must put in the right kind of work here. Put Wiggins in a place where he can thrive. Play to his strengths and unleash that potential everyone has talked about. Help create space. Play faster. Maximize his minutes.

Perhaps the greatest tension with Wiggins surrounds the discussion of his contract.