The phrase less is more should be captioned with Andrew Wiggins photo. Never in the history of the NBA has a player with that much talent (who wasn’t sabotaged by injury) delivered less. When Glen Taylor made Wiggins promise he would live up to a ginormous max contract and Wiggins said he would, all of us were played. Wiggins is a nice enough player but he’s not a max player. His career has descended since winning Rookie of the Year.
Earlier today, I heard someone recite Giannis Antetokoumpo’s PER his first 3 years in the league. Each year, Antetokounmpo’s PER number- which measures all around versatility- improved. 10.8 as a rookie. Then 14.8. And in year three, 18.8. By year four his PER was 26.1 and he was an All-Star.
Andrew Wiggins PER as a rookie was 13.9. His second year was 16.5 and his third year was 16.5, meaning he didn’t get better. His 4th year, his PER went backwards, 13.0. Then 12.4. Now it’s 16.4, lower than his second and third year. This is the Wiggins problem. Who is he?
The Timberwolves surrounded Wiggins with talent and it didn’t work. They enabled his moodiness and it didn’t work. They overpaid him and it didn’t work. The coaches didn’t make Wiggins feel uncomfortable, no one challenging him publicly.
After six seasons, the Wolves have given up. They traded Wiggins away for D’Angelo Russell, hoping it keeps Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been in a surly mood of late, happy. Towns and Russell are friends and more importantly their games mesh.
Russell is the anti-Wiggins. He has less talent than Wiggins but more heart, hustle, bravado, and personality. Russell wants to be the center of the show. He came into the league immature but grew up in Brooklyn. He has an understanding of how to run a team from the point position. An All-Star last year, Russell has lived up to his high lottery pick status while Wiggins has floundered with the expectations.
The optimists look at the Wiggins to SF deal as taking the pressure off of him. He will thrive in a new system. Just slot him into the Harrison Barnes role. But what the Warriors need Wiggins to do, he can’t. Wiggins is an iso player. The Warriors system is allergic to iso basketball. So what happens now? As great as Steve Kerr is for the unselfish player, he loses relevance with the selfish iso player.
It comes down to this. It’s not about money. It’s not about style points. It’s not about where Wiggins is drafted. But can you trust Andrew Wiggins?
Minnesota said no. The Warriors got next.