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Posts tagged with Minnesota Timberwolves

Dunkapalooza: Watch every slam Andrew Wiggins threw down this season

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, left, dunks as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 106-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, left, dunks as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 106-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

If you paid any attention at all to the 2014-15 NBA season — even as someone who accidentally stumbled upon highlights a few times a week — you likely noticed one-and-done Kansas product Andrew Wiggins wowing crowds as he soared through the air on his way to the rim.

The Minnesota rookie became a SportsCenter regular with his array of gravity-defying jams, making the spectacular look routine.

Now, thanks to the miracle of YouTube, if you have 15 minutes and a love for levitation, you can watch each and every dunk from Wiggins’ Rookie-of-the-Year-winning season.

According to stats.nba.com, the Canadian phenom completed 79 of his 88 dunk attempts as a rookie and threw down 8 of his 10 alley-oops.

You can watch all 87 of Wiggins’ throw-downs (plus his gems from the Rising Stars Challenge at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend) on a two-part highlight reel compiled by the FreeDawkins channel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNqmpbMPX9k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=524h48CWlMc

It’s quite the compilation, serving up reminder after reminder of the ridiculous lift Wiggins gets every time he leaves the floor.

As those who saw Wiggins play for the Jayhawks can attest, watching him in person can leave one awestruck. Broadcasters included. Here are a few of the lines you’ll hear in the clips:

“Strong take by the Rock Chalk rookie!”

“How bout this 20-year-old?!”

“You know it’s a big one when you’re on the road and the opposing fans go, ‘Ooooh.’”

“Don’t try this at home. This is not safe.”

Which rim-rattler stands out as the best? Few of the slams match Wiggins’ attack on Utah shot-blocker Rudy Gobert. The rookie GIF’d “The Stifel Tower.”

As the play-by-play man says: “That is not human right there.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 1 comment from Nathan Scholl

Fearlessness, desire to improve made Andrew Wiggins Rookie of the Year

Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks on New Orleans Pelicans Omer Asik in the half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 13, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks on New Orleans Pelicans Omer Asik in the half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 13, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Sit down. Take a deep breath. Some shocking news came out Thursday.

Andrew Wiggins won the NBA’s 2014-15 Rookie of the Year award.

While this honor was far from a no-brainer when the high-flying wing left Kansas and became the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, season-ending injuries suffered by No. 2 pick Jabari Parker and No. 3 pick (and Wiggins’ KU teammate) Joel Embiid left just a few contenders for Wiggins to outplay.

The Timberwolves finished 16-66, with the worst record in the Western Conference (second-worst in the league, to New York), but Wiggins’ play put him a cut above the rest of the competition.

None by Scott Howard-Cooper

The first Canadian and Timberwolf to win the award, and the first Jayhawk to do so since Wilt Chamberlain (1960), Wiggins’ 16.9 points per game led all rookies (in 25 games, Parker scored 12.3, finishing second).

The one-and-done KU product shot 43.7% from the field, 31% from 3-point range, 76% at the free-throw line and averaged 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.2 turnovers a game.

The foregone conclusion now exists as fact. Wearing a navy tuxedo with a black bow tie, the ever-smiling Wiggins accepted his hardware at a press conference in Minneapolis, where the man who brought him to the Twin Cities from Cleveland, Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, couldn’t stop singing his praises.

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins holds his trophy at a news conference after he was named NBA basketball Rookie of the Year, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins holds his trophy at a news conference after he was named NBA basketball Rookie of the Year, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Saunders traded former franchise player Kevin Love as part of a package to bring Wiggins to his team, and it turned out he got a “game-changing” player in return. The coach saw Wiggins’ maturity grow by the day as he gave the rookie, now 20 years old, enough responsibility that he could accept it and improve. Saunders said he stuck with that model throughout the season. What Wiggins’ boss saw in response was one of the most coachable players he’s ever been around.

“He loves to play the game,” Saunders said. “He’s a student of the game. He watches a lot of film. One of the positive things is when you look at him, he wants to get better.”

To the coach’s point, the league’s top rookie averaged 20.9 points, and got to the free-throw line 9.1 times a game during the last month of the season.

None by ESPN Stats & Info

Even more impressive, Wiggins finished second in the entire league this season in minutes played (2,969), just behind MVP candidate James Harden (2,981). It didn’t take him long to emerge as one of the more difficult players to guard, either. The 6-foot-8 small forward finished sixth in the NBA in free-throw attempts (466). The guys ahead of him? Harden, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James and DeAndre Jordan.

The youngster said he learned to love playing against The Association’s best.

“It’s just competitive nature,” Wiggins said at his award ceremony.

The star-in-the-making speaks with his father, Mitchell, every day. The elder Wiggins played in the NBA, too, so he didn’t sugarcoat anything when they spoke about the pros and cons of the rookie’s game. Wiggins said he also inherited his drive from his pops.

“I’m not really scared of nobody,” the new face of the Timberwolves said, “no matter who I go up against.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF2P25OZpvk

His personal turning point, Wiggins revealed, came when he played at Cleveland in December and scored 27 points against the team that drafted him and then shipped him away.

“Ever since then,” he said, “I feel like my game has really moved on. I got a lot better at certain things.”

Saunders recalled skeptics questioning Wiggins’ will to compete entering his first go-round in the NBA.

“I think he pretty much answered most of those critics,” the coach said, “and those questions.”

None by NBA Canada

On a number of occasions during the press conference, Saunders and general manager Milt Newton, a self-described “fellow Kansas Jayhawker” who played for the 1988 NCAA Championship team, described Wiggins as Minnesota’s cornerstone. The young man who heard those expectations replied by saying he has a long way to go: “That’s just motivation to my ears.”

Asked about his next goal, Wiggins replied he had plenty. First off, he wants the T’wolves to have a better season next year. Making the playoffs is also on his list, as is becoming a better teammate and leader, and earning a spot in the All-Star game.

The way the Rookie of the Year sees it, he needs to spearhead an uprising for this franchise that has put so much trust in him, and his award is just a sign of things to come.

“It should bring a lot of hope to the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Wiggins said.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 3 comments from Plasticjhawk Rockn_chalkn_ku Koolkeithfreeze

NBA All-Stars gush about Andrew Wiggins’ potential

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) passes against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The Heat won 102-92. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) passes against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The Heat won 102-92. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

With the 2014-15 NBA season quickly winding down, the Minnesota Timberwolves would like to remind you they have a future star in rookie Andrew Wiggins.

The T’Wolves (16-60 with with six games left) do this because it’s better to look far down the road than focus on the fact they have a legitimate shot to finish with the worst record in the league. Also, a little publicity never hurts as Wiggins figures to hold off late pushes from Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel and Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic for Rookie of the Year.

Minnesota recently posted a video on its website which features superstars and all-stars gushing about Wiggins’ athleticism and potential.

Check out what some of the best players in the NBA have said about the 20-year-old out of Kansas this season.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers:

“I remember being Andrew Wiggins. I remember playing against Michael (Jordan) my first year. And playing against (Wiggins) and seeing the baby face and the little footwork and technique things that he’s gonna be much, much sharper at as time goes on, it’s just looking at a reflection of myself, you know, 19 years ago. It’s pretty cool, man.”

Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls:

“I think everybody knew he was gonna be a really special player in this league. He’s tough. He’s learning. There’s a learning curve for the kid, but he’s gonna make his mark and have a great career.”

James Harden, Houston Rockets:

“Obviously he’s a great talent. You know, he’s so athletic, so skilled and so long that offensively he’s getting a lot better, feeling more comfortable. I think that, as a rookie, the more comfortable you are the better off you’ll be.”

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers:

“He’s a great talent. Great talent. And I think he has a very, very good feel for the game. And that’s good to see. I think he’s grown each month this season.”

“I remember when I was a rookie, you know, I played against T-Mac (Tracy McGrady) on Christmas day. I played against Kobe, I played against A.I. (Allen Iverson) and all those guys that was shining in the league at that time. I remember how I got up to play those guys, so I know what he was feeling.”

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks:

“It feels like he’s not even loading and he’s jumping at the top of the backboard. I don’t even know if he’s using all of his muscles. … He’s just like a pogo stick. He jumps up there, and he’s still really raw, but his potential is really amazing.

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers:

“You know, he’s gonna continue to evolve and he’ll get better as time goes on.”

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat:

“Like I told him when we played them in Miami, ‘You know, man, the sky’s the limit for you.’ You know, if you want it and you put the work in, he has that talent. And he’s so young, man, he’s a raw talent right now, but the kid can be good. I see him getting better and more confident in his game.”

“To be 19 and come into this league, I give a lot of respect for all the guys that come in. I mean, six years from now my son’ll be 19. When you think about something like that, in the NBA? Living his own life? That’s crazy.”

The feature also includes some praises from NBA coaches, who probably look at young players with an even more critical eye.

Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks:

“He’s a tremendous young player that’s growing all the time. Very skilled, as you can tell by his three-point numbers. And he’s developing a really nice inside game to go with his outside game.”

Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors:

“I don’t even know who else would be in the conversation. He’s gonna be an all-star. He’s a terrific player, a good talent and he’s figuring out the NBA game.”

Watch the video — which also includes plenty of slow-motion, highlight-reel jams, footage of Wiggins taking on the league’s top stars and more — at the Timberwolves’ website.

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com took an informal poll of some voters last week and determined Wiggins has a significant lead in the Rookie of the Year race. But some media members said their vote could change before final ballots are in.

Those who dive into the advanced metrics might prefer Noel and the way his defense has made a terrible Philadelphia team competitive.

While the Timberwolves are even worse than the 76ers (18-60), Wiggins does put up numbers: 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 43.6% shooting, 32.2% on 3-pointers.

(Noel averages 10.0 points, 8.1 rebounds. 1.7 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.8 steals and shoots 46.5% from the floor.)

Plus, Wiggins makes jaw-dropping plays, such as this soaring slam dunk that left broadcasters comparing him to Dr. J.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZj-5D-TGDw

The race might be a little tighter than we originally thought when Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid became non-factors due to season-ending injuries, but Wiggins taking home the hardware remains a safe bet.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 3 comments from Shimsham Texashawk10_2 Louis Kelso Perses

Cases being made against Andrew Wiggins winning Rookie of the Year (seriously)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, left, races down court as Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green gives chase in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, left, races down court as Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green gives chase in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

We’ve seen his long arms, his spring-powered legs, the defense and the dunks. He even gets some jump shots to drop through the net every now and then. All of those signs seem to solidify Andrew Wiggins as the no-brainer choice for NBA Rookie of the Year.

Throw in the former Kansas standout’s season averages through 71 games — 16.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 43.7% shooting, 32.5% on 3-pointers — and the absence of well-known competition due to injuries to fellow top-three draft picks Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid, and the hardware seems all but guaranteed to reside in Wiggins’ trophy case.

However, with the season winding down, and award season approaching, a swell of anti-Wiggins arguments has appeared over the past couple of days.

First, the Rookie Ladder feature at NBA.com bumped Wiggins from the No. 1 spot this week.

Scott Howard-Cooper, who runs the rookie-tracking blog, instead bumped defensive-minded Philadelphia big man Nerlens Noel to the top of the list, citing the following:

  • Noel is 6th in the NBA in blocks — 2.0 a game

  • he’s 9th in steals (1.8 a game), despite playing fewer minutes than seven players ahead of him

  • the Sixers' big man leads rookies in rebounding — 8.0 a game (Wiggins is fifth among rookies who have played at least 50 games)

  • Noel is 6th in rookie scoring — 9.6 points a game (on a list that includes Milwaukee’s Parker, who played 25 games, and New York’s Langston Galloway, who has only played 35 games)

Wiggins had occupied the No. 1 slot since the first week of January, but Howard-Cooper pointed out the 20-year-old’s shooting touch has slipped in March.

Entering Friday’s game at Houston, the young Canadian had made 43% of his shots this month. That’s pretty close to his season average. But the glaring statistic is his 3-point shooting: 15.4%.

That’s almost bad enough to make you forget about his freakish athleticism.

http://instagram.com/p/0tML_TFmXa/

Almost.

Then came this argument: Andrew Wiggins isn’t actually that great, he’s just putting up numbers on a bad team.

Credit writer Ben Detrick for backing that theory with some advanced statistical data. He questioned Wiggins’ impact by citing VORP (value over replacement player) — defined by basketball-reference.com as:

“a box score estimate of the points per 100 team possessions that a player contributed above a replacement level player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season.”

Mumbo jumbo? Kind of. But this particular advanced metric ranks Wiggins as the sixth-most valuable rookie in his class — behind Noel, Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic, Boston’s Marcus Smart, Orlando’s Elfrid Payton and Denver’s Jusuf Nurkic.

None by Ben Detrick

None by Ben Detrick

Before you just dismiss this, at least take a look at the NBA’s top-10 players in VORP this season. It reads like a who’s who of impact players in 2014-15: Steph Curry (6.7), James Harden (6.7), Russell Westbrook (6.5), Chris Paul (5.7), LeBron James (5.2), Damian Lillard (4.8), Anthony Davis (4.7), Draymond Green (4.1), Marc Gasol (4.0) and DeAndre Jordan (3.8).

Really, no one you would want to build your NBA team around resides in the same neighborhood as Wiggins (-0.1).

Does this mean Wiggins won’t win Rookie of the Year? Probably not. Plenty of people around the league still love what they’ve seen from the youngster and realize even better days are ahead for him — which is kind of frightening when you consider the things he is doing on the court.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AfqQobNoWU

And, of course, he has plenty of time to improve his shooting, efficiency, ball-handling, basketball IQ and everything else.

If Wiggins still doesn’t have an impressive VORP five seasons from now, then he’s got a problem.

Just so you know: Kevin Durant’s rookie VORP was 0.4. That’s obviously better than where Wiggins is at now, but you get the idea. He has years to acclimate himself as a player and make an even more meaningful impact in the league.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 3 comments from Oddgirltoo Fred Whitehead Jr. Steve Jacob

Andrew Wiggins lone KU representative for All-Star Weekend

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) pushes up to the basket against New Orleans Pelican center Omer Asik (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pelicans won 92-84. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) pushes up to the basket against New Orleans Pelican center Omer Asik (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pelicans won 92-84. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Looking for a ’Hawks in the NBA fix this All-Star Weekend?

Your options are limited. That is, you only have one.

Of the 15 Kansas basketball players currently active in the Association, only one earned a spot in the league’s myriad of made-for-TV events this weekend in New York.

You won’t see a KU product in the All-Star Game. Paul Pierce (12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists this season with Washington) is too old. Markieff Morris (15.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists with Phoenix) isn’t quite there, and plays in the loaded Western Conference.

You won’t find a Jayhawk in the slam dunk contest this weekend, either. (Though Andrew Wiggins obviously would have been an intriguing challenger.)


Not the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.

Not even the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, nor the Degree Shooting Stars competition. (Yes, those are things that apparently exist.)

But you can watch Minnesota prodigy Wiggins in the Rising Stars Challenge — 8 p.m., Friday night on TNT.

It used to be that a team of rookies faced a team of second-year players in this showcase, and the league tried changing the setup before, but this year marks the first time for a brand new format: The U.S. vs. The World.

None by NBA

Canadian native Wiggins headlines the World Team, which also features Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka “The Greek Freak.”

The international up-and-comers will face the U.S. Team, featuring Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams (the reigning Rookie of the Year) and Nerlens Noel, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Wiggins’ Minnesota teammate Zach LaVine, among others.

While Ben McLemore put on quite a show in the dunk contest last season, he didn’t get asked back to that event, or to represent his country in the Rising Stars game. So Wiggins is all KU fans of the NBA have to look forward to.

The 6-foot-8, soon to be 20-year-old (birthday coming up on Feb. 23) began playing at a higher level in January. And while his production has leveled off since finishing last month with a career-high 33 points against Cleveland, the team that drafted him, look at his numbers since Jan. 1:

18.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 45.9% FGs, 32.7% 3s, 79.6% FTs in 38.7 minutes.

Wiggins’ recent uptick has impressed many around the NBA, and his game became the subject of a TrueHoopTV blog earlier this week on ESPN.

While David Thorpe said the “Rising Stars” showcase for first- and second-year players doesn’t actually feature a whole lot of talent, Wiggins will be one of the exceptions.

“He’s amazing. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet, but he knows more than what he did,” Thorpe said, noting the rookie’s ability to post up, hit jumpers from mid-range and beyond the 3-point line and come up with difficult offensive rebounds.

“He’s attacking crowds and making plays above the crowd,” Thorpe said, “which he is capable of doing.”

The TrueHoop analyst who spends a lot of time focusing on the NBA’s young guys also said Wiggins is playing harder now than he did the first couple weeks of the season, and the amazingly athletic small forward now better understands how to get to the middle of the paint.

If opponents try and defend Wiggins with a smaller player, Thorpe added, he will square up and shoot over him before help comes, and Wiggins makes it look easy.

Facing the league’s top team Wednesday, Wiggins didn’t have an amazing game by any means, scoring just 6 points on 3-for-7 shooting in 38 minutes versus Golden State. But he kept the young, struggling Timberwolves (11-42, last in the Western Conference) competitive in a 94-91 loss.

First-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr, whose Warriors own the league’s best record, at 42-9, said before the game between the two teams on the opposite end of the NBA’s power spectrum Wiggins is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.

“I don’t even know who else would be in the conversation,” Kerr said. “He’s going to be an All-Star (in the future). He’s a terrific player, a good talent, and it looks like he’s figuring out the NBA game. … He’s really going to be a good player.”

Here’s a look at some of what the young star-in-the-making already has done to grab the league’s attention.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD848yFJAXw


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 1 comment from Lcjayhawk

Rookie of Year frontrunner Andrew Wiggins has room to grow

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins (22) tries to move around Dallas Mavericks’ Devin Harris (20) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins (22) tries to move around Dallas Mavericks’ Devin Harris (20) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

There are still 30-plus games to go in Andrew Wiggins’ first NBA season, but we all know what’s coming at the end of it for the budding Minnesota star.

The 2014 No. 1 pick out of Kansas is in a one-man race for Rookie of the Year after Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear. Plus, potential R.O.Y competition, Wiggins’ Kansas teammate Joel Embiid, might not make his debut in Philadelphia until the 2015-16 season.

The 19-year-old Canadian plays for a young team that has struggled mightily — the Timberwovles, as of Monday, own the league’s worst record (7-36). They’ve lost four straight, five of their last six and 20 of their last 22.

But Wiggins has given the fan base hope, at least, scoring in double figures in 17 straight games.

Since he turned that corner, the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging:

  • 19.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and hitting 47.3% of his shots and 37.5% of his 3-pointers.

Compare that to his averages in his first 26 games:

  • 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 38.5% on FGs, 36.4% on 3-pointers

For the season, Wiggins is averaging:

  • 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals and hitting 42.7% of his shots and 37% of his 3-pointers

His January has been so impressive, Stats.NBA.com has a feature on it.

On a nightly basis, the high-flying rookie helps Minnesota fans get over the fact the franchise traded its former centerpiece, Kevin Love, to Cleveland, so he could chase an NBA title with LeBron James.


Still, as Kirk Goldsberry wrote for Grantland.com, while Wiggins might very well be a superstar in the making, he is far from perfect.

None by Kirk Goldsberry

Goldsberry points out Wiggins strengths — athleticism, scoring, defense. But he also examines his weaknesses: inefficiency on offense, caused by shot selection. As of a few days ago, in fact, Wiggins ranked last in FG% among 41 players who had taken at least 200 mid-range shots, only making 33%.

There is some good news, or at least reason for optimism, on this front, though. Goldsberry points out Kevin Durant also struggled to play efficiently on offense as a rookie.

That leaves Wiggins with plenty to consider as he develops his NBA game in the years to come. But he won’t have to worry about that Rookie of the Year trophy as long as he stays healthy.

The latest Rookie Ladder feature on NBA.com, where Scott Howard-Cooper tracks The Association’s top newcomers, of course, has Wiggins at the top.

His closest competition right now?

  • Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel — 8.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.6 steals.

  • Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic — 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists.

  • Orlando’s Elfrid Payton — 7.7 points, 5.7 assists, 1.5 steals.

  • Philadelphia’s K.J. McDaniels — 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 assists.

Good luck to the also-rans.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 1 comment from 1stnamemistermiddlenameperiod

Marcus Morris loses cool, yells at Suns head coach

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Well, now we know who the evil Morris twin is.

Because neither Marcus nor Markieff wears a sinister mustache, there used to be no way to tell.

The typically laid back twins who first teamed up at Kansas in college before reuniting in the NBA with Phoenix live together, get matching tattoos and spout the power of #FOE (family over everything). But Marcus lost his cool Wednesday night, during the Suns’ 113-111 win over Minnesota.

First, the 6-foot-9 forward got hit with a technical foul in the third quarter. Next, he took his anger with him to the bench, and was caught by ESPN’s cameras during an animated and intense back-and-forth with Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaG7B8vXD5o#t=18

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported Marcus became agitated on the court when he got hit in the nose and no foul was called. He remained in that state during the ensuing timeout and when Hornacek didn’t side with him, Marcus started yelling at the coach while stating his case.

Eventually, Suns assistant Corey Gaines stepped in before the situation got any worse.

Coro reported Marcus settled things with Hornacek shortly after the game.

"It was heat of the moment," Marcus told the Arizona Republic. "Coach knows I've got a lot of respect for him. As soon as the game was over, I apologized to him and the team, especially the younger guys for them having to see that. I felt like I got hit in the nose and my nose was bleeding and he had took me out so I was really upset about it.

"When I apologized to Jeff, he said, 'You don't have to apologize.' He knows. He's been a player. I hate that it had to be televised like just because it seemed worse than what it was."

Marcus also took to Twitter to apologize publicly.

None by Marcus Morris

None by Marcus Morris

The backup Morris finished the game with 8 points in 14 minutes. Starting brother Markieff scored 14.

Meanwhile, Timberwolve rookie Andrew Wiggins went for 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, to go with 6 turnovers. The No. 1 overall pick hit 1 of his 4 3-point tries and just missed one that would’ve won the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSW5QNmQFVA


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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LeBron James’ review of Andrew Wiggins: ‘He’s a great talent’

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) is fouled by Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014, in Cleveland. Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 27 points, but the Cavaliers won 125-104. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) is fouled by Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014, in Cleveland. Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 27 points, but the Cavaliers won 125-104. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

When he wants to, Andrew Wiggins can play with an edge.

In a three-game slump (6.3 points per game, 7-for-27 shooting) heading into the rookie’s very first meeting with the team that drafted him, Cleveland, and superstar LeBron James, the Kansas product indeed looked motivated to show the Cavaliers they should have kept him around — or at the very least remind them of what they’re missing.

Wiggins outscored LeBron, 27-24, (but not Kyrie Irving, who added 29 for Cleveland) and the leading candidate for rookie of the year made another highlight reel to add to his résumé by hitting 9 of 16 from the floor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_27c_lzn00o

Though his Timberwolve (5-22) still had no chance at Cleveland (17-10), Wiggins Vined the Cavs’ defense on one possession with a jam that must have had Cavs fans wondering — maybe just momentarily — how the 19-year-old Canadian would look in wine and gold.

None by gifdsports

Showing more professionalism that bitterness or envy, Wiggins said in a column by The News Herald’s Jim Ingraham he isn’t holding any grudges toward Cleveland — a place he said earlier this week he called home for “like three days.”

“I’m being put in a bigger position, a bigger role (with Minnesota) than I would’ve been on that team,” Wiggins said. “That’s helping me grow more mentally and physically.”

Like Kobe Bryant earlier this month, the Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda reported, James had a glowing review of Wiggins, a potential future star in The Association.

“He’s a great talent,” James said. “We all knew that for sure. He’s very poised and very efficient. They got a good piece.”

After the 125-104 loss, the Timberwolves’ sixth in a row, Wiggins reiterated the matchup with Cleveland, who picked him No. 1 overall in June, then moved him in a trade to land Kevin Love, provided added inspiration.

“I’m a competitor so it’s fun for me,” he told the Star Tribune. “I’m sure it’s fun for him (James) and fun for fans to see. He’s one of the best players in the league, so I think I learned a lot. He can score in a lot of different ways and impact the game a lot of different ways.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Andrew Wiggins to face Cavs, LeBron

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) moves the ball on a breakaway against Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) moves the ball on a breakaway against Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

We’ve already heard an NBA legend by the name of Kobe Bryant sees some similarities between a younger version of himself and rookie Andrew Wiggins.

So perhaps we should’ve seen more comparisons for the one-and-done Kansas product coming.

Do we really need a detailed breakdown to determine whether Wiggins is better right now than LeBron James was when he was a rookie?

Absolutely not.

YOUNG LeBRON VS. YOUNG WIGGINS PPG RPG APG TOPG FG% 3-PT% FT%
LeBron James at 19
(2003-04: rookie season, 79 games)
20.9 5.5 5.9 3.5 .417 .290 .754
Andrew Wiggins at 19
(2014-15: rookie season, through 26 games)
12.0 4.0 1.3 2.0 .385 .364 .702

However, the power of the Internet and the folks at ESPN.com have provided just that. David Thorpe gives in-depth analysis of the future Hall of Famer, James, as a 19-year-old, and the future who-knows-exactly-what-he’ll-turn-out-to-be, Wiggins, on ESPN Insider.

None by NBA on ESPN

Obviously, as Thorpe details, Wiggins isn’t as powerful as James was back in the 2002-03 season, nor does the Minnesota rookie possess LeBron’s ball-handling and distributing skills.

The breakdown did give Wiggins the advantage defensively, and as a shooter, though — which serves as a nice reminder that, despite what we heard when he was in high school, the young Canadian simply projects as a different type of player than the guy who is better at basketball than anyone else on the planet. And that’s OK.

There at least is a method to this maddening exercise. Wiggins and James will play against each other for the first time Tuesday night — 6 p.m., NBATV.

Not only does this give Wiggins a chance to go up against LeBron, it also allows the No. 1 overall pick to face the team that drafted him and traded him away before the season began.

As Wiggins said in a piece for Timberwolves.com, facing Cleveland should motivate him — “I think that’s obvious,” he added.

Since scoring 16 points against the L.A. Lakers and drawing Kobe’s praises, Wiggins hasn’t broken the 10-point barrier in three straight games, scoring 9 at Washington, 5 at Boston and 5 again vs. Indiana.

We’ll see how he responds for this one, with far more observers anticipating the matchup and waiting to make more comparisons.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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Andrew Wiggins growing into starring role with T’wolves

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) takes a shot against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec, 8, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) takes a shot against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec, 8, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Bad news, rest of the NBA. This Andrew Wiggins kid might be the real deal.

Obviously, we shouldn’t make too much out of one or two strong showings, but the Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans have to be thrilled with what the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft has been up to lately.

Two days after scoring 21 points in a loss to the best team in The Association, Golden State (19-2), Wiggins actually outdid himself in his encore performance Wednesday night against Portland (17-5, No. 3 in the stacked Western Conference).

The 19-year-old Canadian sensation posted the first double-double of his career — 23 points, 10 boards — and the lowly T’wolves (5-16) beat the Trail Blazers.

None by NBA.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCZ-EGzQLBs

The most impressive part of Wiggins’ latest breakout night? He’s knocking down contested shots. Check out the YouTube clip. In a lot of those highlights, he’s rising up and scoring over Nicolas Batum, a respected and talented defender.

Advanced stats from NBA.com show Wiggins made five contested field goals against Portland. That’s actually the same number he made against Golden State. He led both those games in that category. Steph Curry only made four contested shots vs. Minnesota (which likely also speaks to the T’wolves’ defense).

As Jerry Zgoda wrote for The Star Tribune, Minnesota had dropped six straight before knocking off the Blazers at home. The showing prompted Wolves coach Flip Saunders to say: “Baby Wolves grew up a little bit at times tonight.”

One example of that came in the final minutes of the fourth, as Portland surged and cut its deficit to four. Wiggins scored the next five points.

“I feel great, I feel a lot better every game, every second on the floor I’m learning a lot,” Wiggins said. “I feel comfortable. I know my team is always going to be there. We made big plays together. It wasn’t just me. … I wanted it, I didn’t want to lose. Ricky [Rubio] came over to me and said, ‘We’ve got to win this game.’ I was determined to win.”

Seems like the young phenom is starting to feel comfortable. That doesn’t mean he’ll score 20 a night from this day on, but now we have seen evidence he’s capable of doing that as his career progresses.

Wiggins just might become the franchise player Minnesota needs him to be.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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