Bloggers note: I decided to bring attention to the young Canadian who is quietly running away with becoming the NBA’s Rookie of the year
It has been a uniquely different road to the NBA for Andrew Wiggins.
Born in 1995 (Ironically the year the Toronto Raptors entered the NBA) in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan Ontario to parents who were athletes themselves,
Wiggins never truly faced American competition until he was 16 when he attended Huntington prep school in West Virginia.
Since then, Wiggins has posted respectable achievements, however the hype that was placed on the 19 year old was comparable to some guy named Lebron.
Some notable achievements for the 2014 number one pick include:
- Consensus second-team All-American (2014)
- First-team All-Big 12 (2014)
- Big 12 Freshman of the Year (2014)
- Mr. Basketball USA (2013)
- Gatorade National Player of the Year (2013)
- Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2013)
- McDonald’s All-American (2013)
Before Wiggins entered Kansas, the expectations were crazy. Comments made were: “The Canadian Lebron James”; “The Next Tracy McGrady”; “Best Freshmen Since Kevin Durant”;”Canada’s Michael Jordan”
Critics started early. Sports Illustrated took time to rip into Wiggins and Basketball Canada, only to get this response
His NCAA debut was decent. The youngster scored 16 points in Kansas’ 97-57 exhibition win over Pittsburg State.
Throughout his lone year in Kansas the criticisms started to build.
Coaches, Sportswriters and fans alike had their say, which was usually negative. “He’s too passive”; “He needs to play with more energy”
Eventually as expected, Wiggins was number 1 overall in the 2014 NBA draft by Lebron’s old team the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After leaving him in limbo and ignored by the returning King James, Wiggins was traded to Minnesota.
Criticism of the young man continued. Instead of being compared to the next Lebron, he was billed as lower than James Posey by Neil Paine
Ric Bucher of The Bleacher report offered this gem under the article “NBA 2015 Midseason Roundtable: Best, Worst of First Half; What’s to Come: Who Was the Least Valuable Player of the Season’s First Half?”
“Bucher: Andrew Wiggins. The No. 1 pick has played in all 36 games and only has won five? To me, there’s a difference between good and valuable. I know he’s young and showing a lot of promise, and the Timberwolves have been hampered by injuries, but Wiggins was touted to be a franchise player, a superstar, and certainly more than his predecessor, Anthony Bennett. A lot more. When? Wiggins is averaging 21.7 points per game in January and the Wolves have gone 0-for-the-month. For all of his numbers, his team is still not winning. Good? Yes. Valuable? That’s up for debate.”
Through Wiggins’ first 26 games he put up a stat line of 12.6ppg, 38%FG, 4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.spg & 0.46bpg.
The critics who were still in love with the now injured Jabari Parker (Get better for next year JP) of course stated that Andrew Wiggins was now the front runner for rookie of the year, but were disappointed by his low offensive output.
Over Andrew’s next 11 games his numbers were 20.9ppg, 49%FG,4.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.3spg, 0.54bpg
So why no praise on North American media outlets except for a few mentions here and there?
Yes Wiggins is in a small media market. Yes his team is only 6-31, but most number one picks are normally drafted (or in this case traded) to poor teams.
Minnesota is ravaged by injuries and is being carried by a 19 year old rookie, so its hard to say he’s least valuable given the situation he’s in.
As an ESPN insider, I have access to an article penned by David Thorpe. It ranks the top NBA rookies of the 2014-2015 season:
Best Shooter: Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves
“As detailed in previous rookie reports, Wiggins just might be the best shooting rookie in the modern era among elite athletes. He’s far ahead of the likes ofLeBron James, Paul George and Scottie Pippen when they were rookies.
There’s always the possibility Wiggins’ shooting could slip, of course, but being that he’s been the only consistent offensive threat for the Wolves over the past month, and given that Ricky Rubio could return soon, he might also see improvement from his already stellar start in this category.”
Most Improved: Wiggins, Timberwolves
“Injuries to Minnesota’s three best players (Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin) opened up all sorts of opportunities for the team to feature Wiggins on offense. After scoring 20 or more points just twice in his first 19 games, Wiggins has now done so 11 times in 18 games. Maybe more impressively, he totaled 236 points on only 193 shots in those 11 games. So he is not pouring in points at the expense of his teammates and chucking up bad shot after bad shot.
Minnesota can’t win a game but it’s not because of Wiggins. In eight of the 11 games in which Wiggins scored 20, Minnesota was very competitive thanks to its rapidly ascending wing scorer.”
Best Scorer: Wiggins, Timberwolves
“On a per-minute basis, Nurkic leads the class in scoring (Wiggins is second). And Jabari Parkerlooked like a sure thing to be the best rookie scorer before he got injured. Wiggins, though, is on a great run and has jumped to the top of this list. His perimeter shooting, his ability and willingness to post up and get buckets, and his 4.4 free throw attempts per game are what’s carried him.
With better talent around him, and better passing (when Rubio returns), we should see more transition buckets from Wiggins. He will also become more of an impact player on the offensive glass once Minnesota gets other scoring threats back (teams rarely help toward Shabazz Muhammad and have no problem leaving him to help on Wiggins).”
Best Player: Wiggins, Timberwolves
“He does not lead this class in PER or RPM and may not by season’s end, but Wiggins has been the best rookie by a significant margin for a month or so. No rookie save Parker has been close to what Wiggins is doing now. In addition to his offensive numbers, he is seventh in blocks and fifth in steals (among rookies), while spending a good amount of time each game assigned to the opponent’s best scorer on defense. That is a rare move for a coach to use on a rookie, but Wiggins’ upside as a defender demands it.
Nurkic may end up playing a lot and could make a run at Wiggins. Smart may soak up a ton of minutes with the Celtics focused on the future and thus begin to put up ROY-type numbers. And when the Wolves get healthy it is doubtful Wiggins will get the looks he gets now, so his numbers could begin to trend down (though the Wolves are likely to make more deals with their veterans to acquire younger guys or picks).
Still, as we stand today, he’s the best rookie in this class and, should he maintain what he’s been doing for the past five weeks, he could end up being one of the more productive rookies we have seen in some time.”
Here is the ranking courtesy of ESPN:
1. Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves
2. Nikola Mirotic, Bulls
3. Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets
4. K.J. McDaniels, 76ers
5. Nerlens Noel, 76ers
6. Tarik Black, Lakers
7. Elfrid Payton, Magic
8. Marcus Smart, Celtics
9. James Ennis, Heat
10. P.J. Hairston, Hornets
11. Kostas Papanikolaou, Rockets
12. Bojan Bogdanovic, Nets
13. Joe Ingles, Jazz
14. Jerami Grant, 76ers
15. Shabazz Napier, Heat
16. Kyle Anderson, Spurs
17. Zach LaVine, Timberwolves
18. Dante Exum, Jazz
19. Travis Wear, Knicks
20. Gary Harris, Nuggets
The sports writers are starting to take notice…but the attention should be larger. Maybe they will start to pay attention when this happens.
Andrew Wiggins is coming. Now show some respect
(Stats courtesy of basketball reference)
(Sources: ESPN, Bleacher Report)