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Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves

Editorials

3 ways Andrew Wiggins must improve this offseason for the Minnesota Timberwolves

3 ways Andrew Wiggins must improve this offseason for the Minnesota Timberwolves

There are very few people still left on Andrew Wiggins Island. Nearly everyone who believed in the former No. 1 overall pick has just about left the bandwagon after Year 5 of the Andrew Wiggins Experience showed little to no improvement in his game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves swingman entered the NBA in 2014 with lofty and perhaps even unfair expectations. He had everything a superstar could want: the tools, the body, the scoring ability, you name it. People even believed he would make for a lockdown defender.

However, Wiggins just hasn’t had that light-bulb moment stars have when they have their breakout campaigns, and many are wondering if he’ll ever have that moment. Pundits are ready to tag Wiggins as a bust. Analysts often knock him for his inconsistent play. One night, he drops an electric 40-point game and shows flashes of that superstar many of us envisioned he would be. The next night, he puts up a 4-of-15 shooting dud that makes fans believe the previous game was a dream too good to be true.

Simply put, Andrew Wiggins has not lived up to the standard of a top overall pick.

Still, some are holding out hope that Wiggins will eventually figure it out. He is, in fact, just 24 years old. There’s still time for him to prove he can become a productive and winning player in the NBA.

If Wiggins wants to win back the hearts of those who once believed in him, he has to make these improvements this summer so he can finally have the breakout campaign many have been waiting on.

Shot Selection

Perhaps the biggest thing Wiggins has to work on is his shot selection. Anyone who has watched him for an extended period of time will notice his tendency to settle for long mid-range jumpers, the most inefficient shot in basketball. It would help if he was any good at them. Unfortunately, he isn’t.

Per NBA.com, 30.7 percent of Wiggins’ shots were mid-range jumpers in 2018-19, and he shot them at a 33.1 percent clip. 40.3 percent of his attempts came within 10 feet on 52.6 percent shooting. At the rim, his percentage  was a stellar 62.1 percent. From 3-to-10 feet, however, that number stooped to an atrocious 34.1 percent.

Given the numbers above, Wiggins has shown he is a good finisher at the rim. With his crazy athleticism, Wiggins should ideally make a living at the cup. Instead, he continues to settle for inefficient 2-point shots in the mid-range.

While the bad habits are hard to shed, Wiggins should make a more concerted effort to attack the basket. Doing so more often will generate more efficient possessions for the Timberwolves. Likewise, it will also get him more chances to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line.

Wiggins hasn’t gotten to the line as much over the past two seasons, averaging just 3.9 attempts per contest. He averaged 6.4 attempts through the first three seasons of his career.

3-Point Shooting

Wiggins should also make it a point to turn some of those mid-range shots into 3-point attempts. The problem, however, is he doesn’t shoot triples particularly well either.

Wiggins has increased his usage of the 3-point shot in every season he has been in the NBA. Last season, he averaged 4.8 3-point attempts per game but shot just 33.9 percent.

Ideally, the Timberwolves want Wiggins to get at least into the 36 or 37 percent range, and perhaps even better. However, he has shown little improvement from that distance, hovering from 30 to 35 percent for his career so far.

One positive about this aspect of Wiggins’ game is his great percentage when shooting corner treys. Over the past two seasons, per NBA.com, Wiggins hit 44.4 percent of his corner triples. However, he doesn’t shoot from there enough. Over the same time span, Wiggins took only 18.3 percent of his 3-pointers from the corners.

Playmaking

When Wiggins entered the NBA, analysts believed he could be a complete player on the offensive end in terms of being a dynamic scorer who could also make plays for others. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.

Wiggins is only handing out 2.2 assists per game for his career. He averaged 2.5 last season, a career-best mark.

Prior to the acquisition of Jimmy Butler in 2017, the Timberwolves featured Wiggins in a lot of pick-and-roll action. In flashes, albeit a few, he showed he has the capability to become a stellar playmaker. He also showed he has a nifty touch when passing the ball.

Wiggins has suspect decision-making on those passes, though. At times, he reads the play correctly and places it right on target for his recipient, which is beautiful to watch. However, those plays don’t come often as he tends to make passes that lead to nowhere.

With a full training camp under coach Ryan Saunders, the Timberwolves should once again go back to Wiggins as one of their primary ball handlers. Wiggins should use the camp to learn Saunders’ system and make better reads on offense.

Whether all of this translates next season depends on how much Wiggins works on his game this summer. One thing is for sure, if he doesn’t get it together and we see more of the same in Season 6, then Andrew Wiggins Island might have to shut down permanently.

But if Wiggins finally has his light-bulb moment and incorporates even just two of the three above improvements,  he could be a dark-horse contender for Most Improved Player in 2019-20.