With career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game, and field goal percentage, and the Minnesota Timberwolves sporting a surprising 7-4 record, Andrew Wiggins is playing like the superstar we expected him to be.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been the biggest surprise of the early NBA season.
Not much was expected from this team outside of another tenth-place finish in the West and a high lottery pick. But this seems like a different Timberwolves organization that has learned from wasting the prime years of Kevin Garnett.
This Wolves team not only believes they can compete; they believe they can win. After missing the playoffs last year, the Wolves have jumped out the gates with an impressive 7-4 record and have fans thinking of more than just a playoff appearance.
The most enjoyable part about this hot start is Andrew Wiggins looking fully engaged and is finally showing what made him the number one overall pick in 2014.
Wiggins signed a five-year, $135 million max extension in October of 2017 and then immediately went through a two-year slump that had many doubting if he would even be a net-positive player in this league.
After signing the contract, his player efficiency rating dropped from 16.5 to 13.0 in year one and then 12.4 last year. Last season he shot an abysmal 41.2 percent from the floor, and his dunk total had dropped in each of the past three seasons (77, 58, 39) meaning Wiggins was not being as aggressive.
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Often times he looked disinterested on the floor as if NBA games were similar to playing pickup at the local gym. Wiggins was not taking his craft seriously, and he was morphing into a younger version of Carmelo Anthony who could go down in the pantheon of major draft busts.
This year has been a completely different story. Through the Wolves’ first 10 games, Wiggins is having his breakout season and absolutely balling out of control.
Wiggins is averaging a robust career-high 25.5 points per game, which ranks 13th in the NBA. His player efficiency rating is up to 21.1, and he has career-highs in field percentage (47.3 percent), rebounds (4.8), and assists per game (3.3). Wiggins’ usage has increased to 27.8 and he’s scoring more efficiently while shooting 33.8 percent from long distance.
More importantly, Wiggins looks engaged on the floor and he’s clearly having a lot of fun with this new squad.
Last season, Wiggins had just four games of 30+ points. This year, he’s already had four games of 30+ points including a sizzling 33-point performance where he carved up the Detroit Pistons‘ defense while shooting 12-for-20 from the field and 3-of-5 from the three-point line. The Wolves were plus-7 while Wiggins was on the floor, and he also contributed six rebounds and five assists.
Wiggins has been more successful this year because he’s assertive on the court.
His true shooting percentage (which takes into account two-point field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws) is 56.3, which would be a career-high. Most of his shot attempts have been two-pointers (68.6 percent) with nearly 26.6 percent of those shots coming from within 0-3 feet of the basket.
This is important because in the years past Wiggins would settle for midrange, low-percentage jump shots, whereas this season he’s made a more conscious effort to be aggressive and take the ball to the rack. His turnover percentage is a career-low of 6.1 percent and Wiggins currently has a win-share of 0.165 per 48 minutes.
It’s obviously still early, but Wiggins’ hot start is a reason for T-Wolves fans to be excited. He’s averaging career-highs virtually across the board and it’s translating to wins for his team.
If he can keep this up throughout the season he certainly makes the All-Star team and could even enter the MVP race, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on Wiggins to see if this type of performance is sustainable.