If you polled all NBA reporters on worst contracts or biggest busts in the NBA, Andrew Wiggins would probably come up. Being the no.1 draft pick and having all the physical tools necessary to become an All-Star level player set the bar high for Wiggins, a bar he has failed to reach.
Year after year, Wiggins has underperformed. His effort often non-existent, his defense left a lot to be desired. He would put up points on the offensive end, but they were mostly some of the “emptiest” stats in the league. This season seems to be different.
Wiggins’s stats have improved across the board this season. He’s averaging the highest points, rebounds, assists, and blocks, and field goal % of his career, while also having his lowest turnovers per game. He didn’t only improve in the box-score. More importantly, his advanced stats have gone up – Wiggins is becoming efficient.
This is his first year with a positive VORP (value over replacement player) and a win-share per 48 minutes over .1. His PER currently sitting at 19.7, which is 4.2 more than his next highest in 2016. Wiggins is also averaging career bests in AST%, REB%, BLK%, and TOV%.
If he finally reaches a level a lot of people believed he could play at, it will be a valuable lesson in patience. At 24 years of age, Wiggins is two years younger than Malcolm Brogdon. He’s the same age as Kendrick Nunn, a rookie getting attention in Miami. When you get drafted at 18 or 19 years old, there is a much longer adjustment period. Changing a lot of coaches doesn’t help too.
The most indicative moment this season might have been the way his teammates ran on the court to celebrate his amazing 4th quarter performance when he single-handedly brought the team back. That’s what’s different about this year – Wiggins seems to care, and so do his teammates.