Andrew Wiggins was the number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then dumped by them when free agent LeBron James didn’t want to deal with rookie growing pains. Unfazed, Wiggins won Rookie of the Year and immediately afterwards was declared a wing superstar in the making, a deadly scorer, an athlete who can be special off the dribble, a finisher, a clutch player with dunk highlights. LeBron James was thought to have made a big mistake by ushering Wiggins out of town. But if you wait and take a breath, careers will be what they are supposed to be. Talent can have heart issues.
Four years after draft night, in season five, Andrew Wiggins is an enigma. Words used to describe Wiggins are “disappearing”, “confusing” and “invisible”. Those are compliments in Wiggins world. He has done the least on a team that needs him to do the most, a year removed from an owner (Glen Taylor) who challenged Wiggins to do more and he just has not. Underachievement is his NBA legacy.
Andrew Wiggins drifts in and out of games, often doesn’t play hard as if hard is a skill set, can’t shoot the rock anymore, 37% is Lonzo Ball territory. His mid-range game has been buried so far beneath Lake Minnetonka it cannot be rescued from the Wiggins desire- or his coaches- to succumb to the era as if anyone can just unearth a three point game and forget who exactly they were. But then that begs this one-hundred thousand dollar question: Who is Andrew Wiggins? And what has happened to his game?
Since winning Rookie of the Year, he has fallen from grace. His 15 shots are his fewest ever, as if he doesn’t even trust himself. His 37.7% is unbelievable until you watch Wiggins play. 38% on two-pointers is ridiculously normal for the new Wiggins who is an average player with a $148 million contract. His second year in the league, he went to the line seven times a game. This year, he is going to the line less than three times. His rebounds are down, his assists have remained ridiculously selfish. He is scoring a career low 15.1 points per game.
Andrew Wiggins is being paid like his hero Kobe Bryant was paid in his prime. But Bryant never had an offensive rating of 95 until year 18. Bryant’s defensive rating of 112, which is Wiggins standard this season, happened when Bryant was in year 20 of his career. You can argue that Wiggins is the worst Wolves starter, particularly now that Robert Covington has come in and is taking charge on the defensive end.
Who would have bet that Derrick Rose would be a better NBA player than Andrew Wiggins?
He can’t make a jumpshot. His 4th quarter efficiency is outrageous. 43 shots taken, 11 makes. He’s equally comatose at home and on the road so he’s consistent.
The thing is Wiggins got a pass in the Jimmy Butler fireburn. What made the deal (Butler trade to Minnesota) so enticing for the Wolves was that Butler would- in a perfect world- exorcise the Wiggins ghost upon arrival and then in day two excavate the hyper-anal, mentally tough, competitively driven player everyone wanted Wiggins to be. How can you idolize Kobe Bryant and leave for dead the Kobe sadomasochism?
Andrew Wiggins has done exactly that and on the dime of Glen Taylor. When you list the best wings after you talk Kevin Durant and James Harden, Wiggins name never comes up. Never.
Justin Jackson of Sacramento has played 21 games to Wiggins 20. Jackson is a higher rated wing (Real Plus-Minus) than Wiggins. 49th among small forwards to Wiggins 54th. It’s embarrassing that a five year max player vet has a PER of 10.7 which is nearly the exact same PER as teammate Tyus Jones, a four year role player backup making $2.4 million.
If Andrew Wiggins was a television show, he’d be cancelled, replaced with some kind of comedy that made you forget the hype that crashed to earth. But the Wolves have no such remedy as the Wiggins career seems to have left him somewhere in an alternate universe and missing in action. It’s almost as if Andrew Wiggins has been kidnapped and this stranger is in his place. It’s a bad science fiction movie with Wiggins heart ripped out his body and in its place is paper.