NBA

Is Andrew Wiggins Finally the NBA All-Star We Thought He Was?

Andrew Wiggins came into the NBA as the number one pick in the draft. With that came the burden of having to perform to those expectations. The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him with the first pick, but they sent him Minnesota for superstar power forward Kevin Love. Wiggins has shown some promise since then, but he largely failed to meet these No. 1 pick expectations.

Despite that, Wiggins has come into the 2019-20 season looking like he never has before, and his promise might finally come into fruition.

Andrew Wiggins takes the world by storm in college 

Wiggins only spent a single year at Kansas, but he wasted no time showing his promise and taking college basketball by storm. Coming into the storied Jayhawk program, Wiggins continued a tradition of NBA talent that dates back to the early days of the sport. Wiggins played beside several future NBA plays, most notably Joel Embiid, Tarik Black, and Frank Mason, but lost in the third round after an upset at the hands of Stanford.

Individually, however, Wiggins was believed to be the number one pick by nearly every expert on the planet. Had Embiid not had had injury concerns of his own, he might have gotten the top slot, but Wiggins’ consistent performance and leadership on Bill Self’s team made the pick a no-brainer. Wiggins put up 17 points per game on a loaded roster, six rebounds, an assist, steal, and block, and he shot nearly 45% from the field. 

When Cleveland won the draft lottery, many believed that Wiggins would be the young core of the team next to Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and company. When LeBron James unexpectedly returned to the roster, however, the team was looking to win immediately, and they initiated the trade with Minnesota

Ups and downs in the NBA

Andrew Wiggins had an impressive Rookie of the Year campaign. He had some rawness to his game, but he didn’t look like another bust at number one like Anthony Bennett was the year before. He averaged nearly 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, and a steal. His output improved throughout the next two seasons, averaging nearly 24 points per game in 2016-17. However, entering the 2017-18 season, Wiggins took a step back. 

The team brought in veteran Jimmy Butler to play alongside Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. That gave Wiggins a smaller role, and a plummet in his shooting percentage was a cause for concern. When Butler left early on in the 2018-19 season, Wiggins didn’t recover with more opportunities. His shooting went down further, and his scoring barely rose. 

At that time, many questioned whether Wiggins had what it took to be a star in the NBA, with several already writing him off and giving him no time to grow again. 

Andrew Wiggins is putting it all together

With expectations at an all-time low, many wondered whether Wiggins would be able to recover from the step back over the previous two seasons. With Jimmy Butler fully out of the picture and with a more solidified role, he’s responding with the greatest basketball of his career. He’s putting up nearly 25 points per game through 17 games, a career-high. On top of that, he is putting up career highs in both rebounds (4.1) and assists (3.4) on 45% shooting from the field. 

With so much doubt regarding his weaknesses, people had seemingly forgotten how good Wiggins was. FiveThirtyEight broke down the ways that Wiggins as improved during the season. According to the analysis, the key to Andrew Wiggins’ resurgence has been his efficiency. While his shooting has gone up with his usage, Wiggins is shooting more efficiently than he ever has in his career. 

An offensive star like him has to be able to score efficiently despite his usage, and Wiggins is showing that he can do just that. While it is still only a quarter of one season, Wiggins might be showing that the doubts were premature, and his best days may still be ahead of him.