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Late-season reminder: Andrew Wiggins closing in on stardom

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No one denies the talent of Andrew Wiggins, nor the promising future the 21-year-old Minnesota guard has in the NBA.

But even the reigning Rookie of the Year, less than two years removed from being selected first overall in the draft, can go forgotten during the marathon regular season while playing for a downtrodden franchise that doesn’t reside in a major market.

Tuesday night, though, Wiggins reminded the league and its fans that he isn’t too far away from existing in the NBA zeitgeist. The Timberwolves (26-52) shocked The Association by winning on the home floor of the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, as Wiggins scored 32 points in an unlikely overtime victory.

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Minnesota won 124-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Minnesota won 124-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The league’s best team, Golden State had only lost one home game all season prior to the Minnesota victory. The Warriors, led by MVP-to-be Steph Curry, are in pursuit of surpassing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) for the best mark in NBA history. Golden State figured to attain win No. 70 against the downtrodden T’wolves. Instead, the Warriors (69-9) will have to win each of their final four games to eclipse the Bulls.

“They were playing for history,” Wiggins told the Star Tribune. “We were just trying to get in the way of it.”

In hitting 11 of 19 shots (2-for-3 from 3-point range), securing 5 rebounds, distributing 4 assists and stealing the ball 6 times against Golden State, Wiggins reminded everyone just how far he has come since his one season at Kansas.

In an SI.com feature written by Rob Mahoney, Wiggins admitted he hadn’t yet realized how to effectively attack a variety of defensive looks when he was a one-and-done wonder at KU.

“I was just all over the place,” Wiggins told SI. “I didn't know my exact game.”

When the high-flying Canadian prospect arrived in Minnesota, via a trade with Cleveland involving Kevin Love, Wiggins received directions to start utilizing his 6-foot-8 frame in the post on offense, to his and the team’s benefit. Wiggins went on to average 16.9 points as a rookie, while getting to the foul line for 5.7 free-throw attempts per game (76% FT shooting).

In Year Two, Mahoney reports, Wiggins’ post-ups have not come as often, as the organization has turned the second-year sensation’s focus to the perimeter, with him handling the ball in pick-and-roll scenarios and taking more 3-pointers.

The internal thinking for this push, from inside to outside, revolves around not only making him a more complete player, but also the belief that Wiggins can be both a dynamic finisher and a steady passer/creator when attacking off of ball screens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwFtLhSMVRM

“The game definitely opened up,” Wiggins told SI. “When I come off a pick–and–roll, I just feel like I see everything. I feel everything's going a little slower than it did last year and I can just read everything better because I know where the help is gonna be, who's bumping the roller, who's covering the pop guy.”

The more skills Wiggins adds to his repertoire, the sooner he becomes a force in the NBA and helps turn a middling franchise into a contender — with Karl-Anthony Towns also playing a prominent starring role, of course.

Although Wiggins hasn’t demonstrated over a prolonged stretch that he can be a 3-point threat, he has trended that direction of late, likely striking fear in the hearts and minds of coaches around the league, as they envision him becoming even more difficult to stop.

On his way to averaging more than 20 points a game this year (20.8 ppg with 4 to play), Wiggins’ late-season 3-point success has become an often-cited statistic around the NBA.

None by HoopsHype

Wiggins shot 38.1% from 3-point range in February, 42.9% in March and is shooting 41.7% in April. As pointed out by Mahoney, for SI.com, Wiggins hit just 31% from 3-point range last season and was shooting 25.7% prior to February.

In the quest to make Wiggins as complete a player as possible, the last step might come on the opposite end of the floor. According to the SI.com feature, the All-Star-in-the-making still has a number of defensive flaws that keep him from sniffing the stratosphere of his seemingly immeasurable potential.

Wiggins’ coaches remind him of that, and it’s something he understands. Still, the organization wants him to approach every night and defensive assignment with the same vigor, not just save his best efforts for matchups against the likes of Kevin Durant or Curry.

If Wiggins finds it within himself to compete at that level every time he takes the floor, well, the rest of the NBA — just like the Warriors — will be in trouble.

“My mindset was we had to win,” Wiggins told the Star Tribune after Minnesota’s upset road victory. “I had to do whatever it took for my team to win, whether it was getting on the floor, making a bucket, making the right pass. I tried to play aggressive but safe at the same time. One mistake and Golden State makes you pay for it.”

Comments

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

Wiggins is 6'8"? That's the same height as Perry Ellis! This is great news for Ellis!!

Where is Joe Ross's breakdown on how Wiggins and Ellis are essentially the same player, at the same position with the same NBA potential, because they're similar size?

Joe, share your scriptures and Doobie Brothers lyrics to show how this is so!!

Vox Populi 6 years, 1 month ago

The LITERAL definition of trolling; picking a fight with NO substantive comment.

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

The ultimate troll move. Creating a new user ID just to insult someone...

Ashamed of yourself under your old ID? Tired of using someone else's? Had your ID blocked? A bit of all three?

Vox Populi 6 years, 1 month ago

So you 're NOT refuting the fact that you're just picking fights? Seems like I'm giving you just what you asked for. I guess it's just less fun to argue with someone you can't embarrass...

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

So you're not denying that you've had your ID banned, ashamed yourself to the point where you needed a new name and stolen others IDs?

See how easy that is? You better avoid using your former ID or your own name. It's obvious that would be humiliating. ...

Vox Populi 6 years, 1 month ago

I think that a lack of shame is one of the only things we have in common. besides that fact that we both look like absolute idiots when we wear goatees... and purple bandanas... and bluetooth headsets...

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

A little annoyed that the LJW banned you?

Vox Populi 6 years, 1 month ago

Not at all; an obvious conclusion.

And, full disclosure; I'm a fan who has, for a long time, read these boards and learned from posters with far more insight than I'll ever have. I remember being annoyed by Jaybate's long diatribes, until I actually read them. He had a depth of knowledge (and candor, class and wit) to which you fall terribly short. And I suppose I'm still looking for the same answer from you that I have been this entire time; Why be mean? It has been demonstrated countless times, by a number of fans, that discussions can be had civily, without putting people down because of their sex (Suzi) or their complete disagreement with you (Joe). What is the point of comments like you first; comments that only look for an argument? What is your actual contribution to these boards? Surely, you don't think you're the one-man police squad of kusports.com, and it would be wonton hubris to think your opinion is the only one that matters. What do you think your contribution to this board is? If you can HONESTLY answer this question, I'd be inclined to leave this board for good, and contentedly leave the opining and theorizing to others.

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

So you've been reading for quite a while now....

Here's one thing you have going for you. As pathetic and at the end illegal as fake Jay was, it could be worse.

You could be the lame Z-whatever gal/guy who says he's a man using his wife's account. Why drag your wife's real name through the mud? Maybe he's banned from using the Web on his own for some kind of child porn thing. That kind of thing will get you banned from lots of things, like financial licenses..

Don't be that kind of loser...

Vox Populi 6 years, 1 month ago

You've managed to insult two other posters, and have still not answered my initial question? What do you bring to these boards when you pick fights and disrespect others posters?

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

A person who copied someone else's ID, and their own picture is asking this?

I don't know how badly I must have humiliated you and your ideas at some point but those with more self awareness and emotional stability usually just stop saying absurd things. Your stalking in its many forms is troubling. Are you seeking help?

Joe Ross 6 years, 1 month ago

Im not ashamed to put my name on any point Ive made in general, and certainly with you in particular (if you didnt distill that from the other day). Fact is, your soaring popularity here is such that I needn't concern myself with much, if any, of what you say. On top of that, beating you on debate points is rather easy. There's no sport in it. So the only question is why dont I bother more often? Its exactly because of what Vox points out: you have very little of substance to offer once you perceive that you've been bested and I can think of 10 to the 21st power other things to do that are more productive. Yet occasionally the wind blows just right and you catch me in a generous mood, so I decide to spend a few moments correcting your..."logic"? It's both a public service and a favor to you personally. I welcome your comments though on other threads, as always. The more you talk, the more paranoid and obsessive you appear. I assure you this is not reverse psychology. I rather get a chuckle out of it so by ALL means please continue. See you in the funnies!

'A modest little person, with much to be modest about.' - Winston Churchill

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

Joe. You made a complete fool of yourself with yesterday's exchange. You grew more idiotic every post. We leaned that when pressed, you could support none of your ideas and resorted to bungled scripture, Doobie Brother lyrics and insults. Patting yourself on the back for that exhibition is truly sad.

Today's asinine mangled bible quote in support of Rob's wee-wee humor was worse.

So here's the question. Are you really that intellectually empty or just that stubborn?

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