Since being selected 1st overall 2 years ago, Andrew Wiggins has shined and continued to grow in the game of basketball. After being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to his first NBA season, Wiggins captured the Rookie of the Year award and emerged as one of the future stars in the league. In just his second season, he averaged 20.7 points and became one of the league’s most exciting players to watch.
A true Canadian, Andrew Wiggins knows his roots. “No matter how far you go, never forget where you came from”. Raised in Vaughan, Wiggins led his high school to the Ontario Provincial Championship before transferring to Huntington Prep School in West Virginia. After capturing the 2013 Naismith Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year, Wiggins was rated the top prospect in the nation, becoming the first Canadian to be named America’s top high school player. Following his high school days, every school in the nation wanted Wiggins and the kid eventually committed to Kansas University. In 35 games, Wiggins averaged over 17 points and nearly 6 rebounds en route to being named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Consensus Second-Team All-American.
Having nearly the perfect basketball body, Wiggins has drawn comparisons to LeBron James. While that is unfair pressure to put on any young prospect, the comparisons were valid. Standing 6’8 with a 7’0 wing span, Wiggins has the speed, strength, and athleticism needed to excel at the forward position. His ability to knock down jump shots and finish emphatically at the rim could have him as one of the most versatile scorers in the NBA. So the big question remains, what does Wiggins have to do to reach maximum potential?
The easy answer is to say that the Timberwolves need to win more games. A team comprised of mostly young players, Minnesota fans are waiting for a core capable of competing. Since the end of Kevin Garnett’s first tenure nearly a decade ago, the Timberwolves have failed to be a respectable team in the league. Al Jefferson was not able to emerge as an all-star and despite Kevin Love’s amazing stats, the T-Wolves were unable to make the playoffs. When upper management realized it was time to re-tool, it all began with Andrew Wiggins. The high flying Zach LaVine was also selected in the first round of the 2014 draft. Following the re-building season, The Timberwolves were fortunate to get another 1st overall pick in Karl-Anthony Towns who was the undisputed 2016 Rookie of the Year and is also on pace to be one of the future stars of this league. With point guard Ricky Rubio looking like he is on the way out of Minnesota, the T-Wolves drafted Providence’s Kris Dunn with the 5th overall pick earlier this summer. Along with this stack of young talent, the Timberwolves also hired Tom Thibodeau as the new President and Head Coach of the team. Building up the franchise through draft picks and potential, the Timerwolves could be like the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder from years ago. Well, let’s just hope LaVine isn’t traded for a sack of potatoes and Wiggins doesn’t sign with the Golden State Warriors (Sorry Thunder fans if that was too soon).
“We can make the playoffs” Wiggins publicly stated last month. Despite playing in a stacked Western Conference, it is quite possible. Much of the team’s success will lie on Wiggins on both ends of the floor. He can score and his on-ball defence is impressive. Despite having a decent mid-range shot, Wiggins has struggled from beyond the arc shooting only just above 30% in his first few seasons. Playing in Tom Thibodeau’s system will only help his overall game, as Thibodeau is known for creating effective defensive schemes and getting the best possible shots through ball movement. With Wiggins able to attract double teams and get in the paint, his ability to make quick decisions will greatly determine the effectiveness of the offense. While making the playoffs would be sweet, continuing to see the players grow as a team is more important for the long run of the franchise. They could still be one or two seasons away.
It was unfortunate to not see Wiggins competing in the all-star game in front of his home city this past winter. Toronto fans always cheer their prodigal son when he comes to the Air Canada Centre and would love to see some jaw-dropping 720 dunks. However, Wiggins knows that if he wants to be an all-star and All-NBA player, he must lead his team to more wins. He is a big contribution to the game of basketball in Canada with many young children looking up to him as a role model. Wiggins is not a cocky hot head who rubs it in and puts blames on other players. He knows he is accountable and wants to succeed for his team and his fans. There is no doubt Wiggins has the potential to not only be the greatest Canadian basketball player of all time but possibly one of the greatest players in NBA history. The future is now! Keep it up Wiggins!