NBA: Why you should watch Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves


Andrew Wiggins is an emerging star in the NBA, and is a must watch even though he’s left a bit to be desired early on

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You could be forgiven for missing the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first 10 games this season. After all, they’re just 3-7, and curled up in a ball at the bottom of the NBA’s mediocre Northwest Division. 

But there are two reasons why you should get excited about the T-Wolves: One, they are loaded with offensive dynamite, the sort that’d catapult the coyote into a stone-faced orbit far above the earth; And two – speaking of stone-faced orbits – Andrew Wiggins is a really good basketball player.

The second point is what I’d like to focus on here because the world seemed completely at odds with Wiggins this past summer, when many in ESPN’s platoon of prognosticators back flipped on earlier claims that Wiggins was the greatest thing since Michael Jordan sliced into NBA paint. That he was selected No.1 in the NBA draft seems incredible now.

Initially, Wiggins was touted as having super-human spring, arms like Plastic Man, and the defensive potential of Scottie Pippen. He was said to have Kevin Durant’s outside touch, and Lebron James’ improbable agility, as well as a second hop to the boards that’d make Charles Barkley cheer.

Yet Wiggins, perhaps a victim of both NBA pre-draft self-promotion and the inordinate acclaim that comes with being a YouTube sensation, was apparently rising too quickly to warrant the ongoing approval of the NBA draft boarders and power rankers.

So, they implemented a market correction once his pre-NBA brand plateaued. The circumstances were ideal in hindsight: It wasn’t simply a media-led shakedown in order to sell more stories, but a reassessment supported by Wiggins’ on-court inconsistency, and quiet personality.

The young Canadian prospect, they said, didn’t possess the killer instinct, after all. He didn’t demand the ball, or take over when his team needed it. He didn’t pound his chest, or roar at the crowd. He just played, diligently.

However, he also faded from the battle, they said, which became the catch-cry for every so-called NBA pre-draft expert looking to make a less predictable call about who might be the No.1 overall pick. Sure, Wiggins had the body and the tools, but maybe not the pedigree of Jabari Parker or even Julius Randle, many pundits suddenly felt.

So, following those few lackluster outings with his college team, the Kansas Jayhawks, a sudden tweaking of Chad Ford’s omnipresent NBA draft board, and an eleventh-hour rewrite of the kid’s destiny, and everyone was suddenly off the Wiggins bandwagon.

Even the Cleveland Cavaliers, who, once they’d stopped hyperventilating about LeBron James’ Ohio rescue mission, fell out of love with Wiggins faster than they did those electric blue wave uniforms in the 1990s. 

I guess the about-face was inevitable. Sporting narratives a revised so often in 2014, and with such frivolity, that you wonder if the Navy should just start dispatching a team to confiscate the internet from reckless writers. Well, at the risk of having a few of America’s finest plunge through my window in the next few minutes, I’d like to set a few thing straight about Wiggins.

He’s young, remember? So if you see him, please tell Skip Bayless to back up the Disappointment Truck. The NBA draft is all about potential, and that’s all Wiggins’ recruitment was ever going to be based on. He’s not LeBron, or Kobe Bryant or even Pippen, though he has elements of each and the potential to be in the same conversation.

For now, we can just enjoy him for the player he is, can’t we?

Forget the numbers for a moment. It’s early, and they’re just average. Big deal. When I watch Wiggins in Minnesota, I’m genuinely excited by his athleticism on the break, his touch on jumpers, his spins and steps that lead to mesmerizing dunks, and above all else, the range and quickness on defense.

It’s in those moments, when he disrupts a pass or swats a lay-up, then glides down court to haul in the ball on the break, that you start to daydream about the future. Sure, you can be forgiven for hoping. 

These plays, and the general smoothness with which he operates, are enough to make me want to watch the Wolves this season. No, they might not win much this season, and as a result, you won’t hear a lot about Wiggins. At least not as much as you’ll hear about former T-Wolf Kevin Love and his cohorts yukking it up in Cleveland.

So what?

I prefer it that way. I’d rather Wiggins quietly improve his game and, when the time is right, re-emerge from his stone-faced orbit as a star.

Next: We play contenders vs pretenders with the top teams in the NBA

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