Finally, in his sixth season in the NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins deserves an All-Star nod. Let’s make the case.
After five-plus seasons in the NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves fans are finally seeing why Wiggins was the highly touted No. 1-overall selection in the 2014 draft. Even though the losses overshadow Wiggins’ strong play, he should be voted into the All-Star Game.
Wiggins is averaging career-highs across the board including 24.4 points (No. 14 in the league), 5.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He’s also shooting an efficient 44.2 percent from the field and 32 percent from long distance. Wiggins has scored in double-figures every game this season he’s played.
He’s also been a lot more aggressive compared to the past. This season, 22.8 percent of his 2-point field goal attempts are coming within three to 10 feet from the basket. In each of his previous five seasons, that percentage was always below 20 percent. Quite simply, Wiggins is taking it to the cup with more frequency rather than settling for low-percentage, long outside jumpers.
Wiggins has a Player Efficiency Rating of 17.7 and a true shooting percentage of 53.1. His usage rate is an extremely 29.5 percent, and it’s only continued to climb in the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns. Wiggins is also averaging a career-high 1.1 blocks per game, which is a pleasant surprise.
While the Wolves are only 14-21, Wiggins’ hot streak just prior to his illness helped keep the team hovering around the final spot for the playoffs. The Wolves are a +4.5 with Wiggins on the court. When he goes to the bench, the lack of scoring becomes problematic. If his teammates start hitting shots and playing better, that would only improve Wiggins’ overall numbers.
The area where Wiggins needs to get better is movement without the ball. For example, last year’s Golden State Warriors assisted on 74.6 percent of Klay Thompson’s 2-point field goals. Beyond underscoring just how dynamic that offense was, it means Thompson uses screens well to find open space and rack up assists for his teammates. He doesn’t try to take players off the dribble.
In Wiggins’ case, this season only 36.7 percent of his 2-point field goals have been assisted on. That means Wiggins is having to extol a lot of energy to score off the dribble and when he doesn’t have the ball, he’s not been very effective by getting himself open. Also, while Wiggins is averaging a career-high in assists, he needs to improve finding open teammates when driving to the basket.
The good thing is Wiggins has youth on his side. He’s only 24 years old and after two forgettable years, it looks like someone in his corner told him to take his basketball craft seriously because he’s made great leaps this year deserving to be on the All-Star roster.
The Wolves organization needs to not make the same mistake they did with Kevin Garnett and actually surround Wiggins (and Towns) with complementary players to start winning.
Wiggins is in Year Two of his max contract and will still be just 27 years old when it expires. If he continues to play like this, he is setting himself up for another max deal, which means he could net over $300 million in salary by the time he is 33 years old.