Last night, the savior-not or as he is better known, Andrew Wiggins, forget to put his jersey on beneath his warmups. So much for being prepared and focused. Then he and his team allowed the young and not very good Atlanta Hawks to build a 22 point lead on the Wolves home floor. The Wolves fought back but the game went into overtime. The team that can’t limped off with a loss. Of course, the fans booed. The fans had every right to expect more heart and competitiveness, and considering how much they paid for their Friday night ticket, they voiced their opinion about the disaster they just witnessed the only way they know how. By booing Wiggins. Afterwards, the wordsmith Wiggins had this to say.
“We’ve got some sh****y fans and we’ve got some good fans. That’s just how it works.”
Wiggins isn’t new to the NBA. The former #1 pick and Rookie of the Year who seemingly is one of the few ROY’s who gets worse as each season passes by, has been around the block. This is his 5th season.
Target Center is rarely packed to the rafters and with Wiggins as a max player it is easy to see why. He inspires no one and since he got the max extension his game has been in the tank. This season, he has career lows in points and field goal percentage. He has an offensive rating of 99. His PER is 12.0.
Lottery Pick rookies with PER higher than Andrew Wiggins: DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson, Trae Young, Mohamed Bomba, Wendell Carter, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Miles Bridges. When Andrew Wiggins was a rookie his PER was 13.9.
I repeat. He has gotten worse.
That is what the fans were booing. His performance. His achievement. His leadership. His mediocrity. His overall despair. He is not making anyone better, not even himself. It would be one thing if he was selfish and doing himself and dropping 30 points on 35 shots. But he isn’t even that. He is a ghost most nights. He disappears. He reappears. He disappears. He reappears.
Andrew Wiggins isn’t a great player. He isn’t a good player. He is okay. He gives less and expects a magician to somehow come in and make it into more. But players greater than Wiggins have been booed. Kobe Bryant was booed. Kevin Durant was booed. Allen Iverson was booed. Wiggins was up close and personal when Jimmy Butler was booed. How you handle adversity is character, though. The great players who have been booed take it in stride. Always, they respect the fans. Perhaps, behind closed doors they were shady and vented their frustration, but to the cameras they acknowledged the fans right to be upset.
Wiggins doesn’t understand fans. For fans, the game is entertainment and a diversion from their ordinary life. Many are obsessed. They live and die with wins and losses. They are emotionally invested in the outcome. So when Wiggins chokes at the free throw line and he just shrugs it off, fans are annoyed or worse, and boo. But it doesn’t make them s****y. It just means they care.
But does Wiggins? Care?
Not from his play. He was supposed to be millennial Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade. He’s not even Monta Ellis. He doesn’t have a motor, which was his scouting report so no one should be shocked. But the amazing thing about Wiggins is his father was in the NBA. He had privilege. He knew what the game was about and how fans respond to what they see with joy or anger. He isn’t naïve.
No player can win by being aggressive with the fans. You lose every single time. The only players who matter more than the fanbase are the elite athletes of which Wiggins isn’t one. The fans are going to win this battle. Wiggins called them s*****y. They are going to boo him again. And again.
On the road, it’s going to be worse. If Houston Rockets fans serenaded Karl Anthony-Towns with Jimmy Butler chants while he attempted free throws (of course he missed) what do you think is waiting for Andrew Wiggins?
On second thought, probably nothing. He just isn’t that important to try to subvert. Andrew Wiggins misses shots without interference from a raucous crowd getting in his way. He gets in his own way. Pre-game. In-game. Post-game.