Andrew Wiggins has done this to us before. Impersonated a former Rookie of the Year. Dominated the game with his scoring talent. Exuded effort and desire. He has put together stretches that justify everything he was projected to be. And then he Andrew Wiggins-ed himself. Crawling into the dark place forevermore.
It’s a disgusting exile he does every single season- disgusting because of the talent that was bestowed upon him through genetics and just random luck. There are men who dream of having the talent Andrew Wiggins has. He doesn’t seem that interested in it at times. That is the Andrew Wiggins story in a nutshell. Or, it was until 2019-20 when Andrew Wiggins woke up.
It’s only 11 games. It’s important to note the small sample size when talking about Wiggins’ emergence. At any moment, he can morph into his former self. But the 11 games he has put together deserve praise. 47% shooting, a career high. 36% from three, a career high. 7 threes per game, a career high. 3.8 rebounds, a career high. 3.6 assists, a career high. 26 points a game, a career high.
Andrew Wiggins is on the long list of wing players that have a shot at the All-Star game in Chicago. His defense has always been awful and he still isn’t the defender he could be with his athleticism but even it has improved. Wiggins has never had a PER higher than 16.5. This year it is 22.4.
More evidence Andrew Wiggins cares about his NBA career. He is shooting 50% and 45% from the three point line in the 4th quarter. When the score is close, he is shooting 52%. When it’s not close, 40%. It has been the problem with Wiggins throughout his career on a young Wolves team. When the game is out of reach, he checks out. He has to think he has a chance to win to want a win and frankly there is something totally backwards about that for a max player.
Nevertheless, here he is. The Wolves have a winning record (7-4). They rank top 5 in points scored and rebounds. But talking about the Wolves and the playoffs is an exercise in make believe. Their defense is atrocious. They give up 116 ppg. Teams shoot 46% because the Wolves don’t contest shots. They are the second worst three point defense. That has to improve for the Wolves to break the haven’t been to the second round since KG drought.
But Wiggins, so far, is doing his part. He is taking his role as the team’s best scorer seriously. He is carrying the Wolves with his offense. The question now becomes one of consistency and does Wiggins have the motor to put forth this effort for 65 more games. Can he bring it night in and night out, even if he doesn’t feel like it?
The book on Wiggins based on his past mediocrity, once you get by all the over reactors who say he is a bust- is that perhaps Wiggins just didn’t have the capacity to be who we all thought he should be. Maybe he wasn’t wired for his talent to match a competitive motor. Maybe he was just going to give above average and he was fine with that. It didn’t bother him. The physical talent has to meet the mental talent.
He still has a lot of skeptics who are not sold after 11 games. They have to see him continue this pace during the first half of the season. And then the second half. But it has never been about what we thought of Wiggins game, if he was awake or asleep. It was always about what Wiggins thought about himself.
So far, he’s thinking he’s a damned good scorer in the NBA and may suit up in Chicago for the All-Star game.