The Minnesota Timberwolves’ season is over, which means it’s time to start assessing how each player on the roster performed this year. So far in this series, we looked at Aaron Brooks, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Nemanja Bjelica, Gorgui Dieng, Jamal Crawford, Tyus Jones, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, and Cole Aldrich’s performances. Up next is Andrew Wiggins.
Over his first three seasons, Wiggins’ improvement was steady. While he wasn’t supposed to be quite on the same level as his teammate Karl-Anthony Towns, he was still expected to become a star player. This year was supposed to be the year he took the next step. He was supposed to grow as a scorer, learn how to lead a team, and maybe make his first All-Star game. The 2017-18 season dawned bright with hope for Wiggins.
Wiggins did not take the next step. Instead, he regressed. His field goal and 3-point percentages dropped. He took three fewer free throws per game, and when he did make it to the charity stripe, he made just 64.3 percent of his shots. Wiggins did not make the All-Star team, nor did he deserve to.
While he did improve defensively this season, it was not enough to mask his offensive decline. However, it’s not completely due to his own playing ability. The introduction of Teague and Jimmy Butler to the team has decreased his usage and role in the offense. While Wiggins spent most of his career as a first or second option alongside Towns, he was forced to share the ball more this year.
In addition, he bloomed defensively. Wiggins no longer looked completely lost on half the rotations and stopped taking defensive possessions off. Last year, when he was on the court opponents scored 5.4 more points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. This year, however, opponents scored just 0.4 more points per 100 possessions. Opponents’ effective field goal percentage was 1.9 percent higher last year while he was on the floor. This season, it was 1.4 percent lower during this time.
Of course, Wiggins’ greatest highlight of this season was the game-winner he hit against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There’s no question that Wiggins is a gifted scorer. However, his shot selection leaves much to be desired. He took just 29 percent of his shots around the rim, despite shooting an impressive 67 percent there. To make matters worse, he took the majority of his shots, 47 percent, from mid-range. However, Wiggins only shot 37 percent from this area.
In 2017, Wiggins signed a massive, five-year, $146 million dollar contract. This means he will not enter unrestricted free agency until 2023. This doesn’t guarantee he’ll still be on the Wolves, though. The time to re-sign Butler and Towns is fast approaching, and these contracts won’t be cheap. With Wiggins not living up to his giant contract, Minnesota is going to have to make some tough decisions.