Minnesota Sports

Maxed Out: It’s Time to Bench Andrew Wiggins

When Andrew Wiggins was first drafted first overall in 2014 and shipped to the Wolves in the Kevin Love trade, fans were overwhelmed with excitement about his potential. Out of high school, Wiggins drew comparisons to Kobe Bryant and even Michael Jordan and in college it appeared he may live up to the hype. In his first three years in the NBA, Wiggins appeared to be developing into the young star the Wolves had hoped he would be. In those first three years, he averaged 20.4 points and had a field goal percentage of 44.9%, improving in the third year where he averaged a career best 23.6 points per game. But as Wolves fans know, these last two years for Wiggins have been nothing short of horrendous.

In the 2017-2018 season, fresh off of signing a five-year $148 million max contract with Minnesota, Wiggins disappointed. His stats plummeted, dropping to 17.7 points per game and shooting 43.8% from the field. This year has somehow been even worse. Andrew is shooting a career low 39.7% from the field and averaging a mere 17.8 points a game, not exactly numbers you want from a max contact player. Those numbers aren’t even the most troubling when it comes to Wiggins play this year either, as Kirk Goldsberry shows.

While the numbers aren’t appealing anymore, it has been Wiggins effort in games that has pushed fans to hate. It has been a norm watching Wiggins, stand around on offense only to hoist up his patented long two-pointers. Andrew only added fuel to the fire after a terrible performance against the Hawks, where he missed free throw after free throw en route to losing a game the Wolves could not afford to lose. Fans responded by showering the once-thought face of the franchise with boos, and Wiggins did not take it well according to Jon Krawczynski.

The most frustrating thing in the Wiggins dilemma is that he has the athleticism and skill to be one of the best player’s in the league. However, it has become apparent of late that Andrew picks and chooses when he wants to display his full ability. This has lead to multiple players surpassing Wiggins in overall value to this team at the shooting guard and small forward position. Josh Okogie and Robert Covington have stepped it up in their brief time with Minnesota and it is clear that they deserve to be apart of the future core to go along with Karl-Anthony Towns. When it comes to Andrew Wiggins however, his spot should be given to Okogie or even Keita Bates-Diop.

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Andrew Wiggins has regressed once again, leaving Wolves fans demanding for a change. (Pete Camarillo, ClutchPoints).

When it comes to the hustle, heart, and passion for the game, Josh Okogie excels where Andrew Wiggins disappears. According to NBA Advanced Stats, in the 2018-2019 season Andrew Wiggins hustle stats back up the fans criticism of the former number one pick and also prove why Okogie deserves his minutes. When it comes to the percentage of loose balls recovered on defense, Okogie, rightfully so, is obtaining 66.7% of them, while Andrews recovers less than 50%, sitting at 49.4%. In another important defensive and hustle statistical category, charges drawn per game, it again shows the rooks worth over Wiggins. Okogie accumulates 0.3 charges per game, while Wiggins accumulates a whooping 0, showing yet again is effort on the court is not existent.

If statistics and analytics aren’t enough to sway you to swap Wiggins with Okogie, take a look at some video evidence displaying he two different motors between the young players.

Throughout this short clip, it is obvious that a lot of the time on defense Wiggins looks clueless. He is constantly not paying attention to his man, or when he is guarding his guy, he gets beat by a simple jab and then its off to the races. One of the strangest things about Wiggins and his defensive issues is that it does not have to be a star to take advantage of him. In a February game against the Pacers, Wiggins was torched by Bojan Boganovic, who is not a bad player by any means, but had averaged 17.7 points per game coming into a matchup against Wiggins and the Wolves. In that game Bojan scored 37 points on 13 of 22 shooting to help Indiana defeat the Timberwolves. In a game against an NBA bottom-dweller the Atlanta Hawks, Wiggins was embarrassed by role player DeAndre’ Bembry, who had been averaging just 8.1 points per game going into the matchup. Coming off the bench, Bembry took it to Wiggins by accumulating 16 points as well as 14 rebounds.

In comparison, Josh Okogie has put together a very impressive defensive resumé this season. He has gone toe to toe with some of the leagues top offensive players and has held his own in multiple occasions. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the season was the defensive clinic Okogie put on against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Facing the reigning MVP, Okogie did not cower in his shadow, instead he went right at Harden. While Harden did score 42 points, he shot just 44% and shot an absurd 22 three pointers, connecting on 8. Okogie did a little bit of everything, grabbing three rebounds, dishing out four assists as well as accumulating two steals and a block heard around the world.

It is clear that with Okogie on the court as opposed to Wiggins, the Wolves are more energetic and overall just seem better. After a win against the Knicks, the Timberwolves are now 5-3 in games in which Wiggins does not play. Two of those losses come against Milwaukee and Toronto, two of the NBA’s best teams. Wiggins has become so unimpactful that it seems the Wolves have actually benefitted from his absence, not a great look for a player sought out to be a star.

Andrew Wiggins was once though to be basketball’s next big thing. He drew comparisons to Kobe and even was given the nickname “Maple Jordan” upon entering the league. But after a promising rookie season all of the hype has finally worn off. With a terrible contract and a play style that isn’t close to accommodating it, Andrew Wiggins has become a burden to the Minnesota Timberwolves and it is time to give another promising young wing a chance.

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