9 players the Minnesota Timberwolves gave up on too soon

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Minnesota Timberwolves front office mistakes Andrew Wiggins
Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /

Number VIII: Andrew Wiggins

There is still a bad taste in the mouth of Minnesota Timberwolves fans over the performance and subsequent trade of G/F Andrew Wiggins. Andrew Wiggins was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Wiggins was so enamored by NBA teams, that multiple fanbases openly lobbied their teams to tank with mottos like “Winless for Wiggins,” in the season before the draft.

On draft night, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, and Anthony Bennett, and traded away PF Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Luc Mbah a Moute to the Philadelphia 76ers. The belief at the time was that PF Kevin Love was a true NBA elite player, but he was surrounded by a roster that would never help him get to an NBA Championship. We’ll talk more about that very soon.

With Andrew Wiggins on the roster, and the addition of center Karl-Anthony Towns the following year, you would expect that the Timberwolves would be in the pole position for the NBA playoffs with two consecutive number-one picks on the roster, but that never really developed.  It was not until the Timberwolves added the passionate Jimmy Butler in the 2017-18 NBA season that the team finally made the NBA Playoffs. But after Butler left the team, the Timberwolves sank once more.

The Minnesota Timberwolves became frustrated with Andrew Wiggins, a forward who seemed to fall far short of his promise and plateau long before he achieved his potential. And so, the Minnesota Timberwolves engaged in a trade with the Golden State Warriors to acquire D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, and Omari Spellman for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 first-round pick (Top-3 protected), and a 2021 second-round pick.

That trade has since been called a historic fleecing, and in some ways that is a harsh but partially accurate description. In hindsight, Wiggins and Russell were equivalent enough even at the time of the trade to be worth a player-for-player exchange. Since that trade, Wiggins has dramatically improved secondary aspects of his game like perimeter shooting and effort on defense.  The Timberwolves wanted more from Wiggins, and there was more to give. He simply refused to give it to the Minnesota Timberwolves.