As we say goodbye to Kevin Love (or good riddance), we also say hello to some new Timberpups, most importantly, Andrew Wiggins.
When I first heard about Andrew Wiggins while he was still in high school, possibly even middle school, I thought he was just going be another hype job, a kid who was heralded at a young age to be the next whoever much in the way two-time Timberwolves player Sebastian Telfair was.
“The next LeBron James” was a big title for Wiggins to be handed at such a young age, but he’s done well for himself, although he maybe isn’t the man who cast him away.
I think Wiggins is a smart player who obviously knows how to handle pressure since he has had just about all of it that you can have – high school phenom, Kansas hoops star, first overall draft pick, and now franchise savior – we will hopefully be able to count on him… in the future.
Wiggins will have growing pains, as all rookies do. His 6-foot-8-inch frame has room to add to his 197 pounds. He is a young man. He has time here that he didn’t have in Cleveland.
Remember, the greatest player in franchise history, Kevin Garnett, averaged 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in his rookie year. Even LeBron only scored 20.9 points per game in his Rookie of the Year winning first season as another first-overall draft pick, which of course would be great to see from Wiggins (but don’t expect it).
Wiggins is not yet an elite shot creator, but he is athletic enough and has the size to handle the NBA style of play.
At least Wiggins already has a good defensive presence. That quality is something that Kevin Love didn’t have coming out of college and is a skill that has somehow eluded him in his six-year career.
At Kansas, Wiggins was a disappointment to some, but he really stepped it up as fellow phenom Joel Embiid was hurt toward the end of the year. Overall, he put together an impressive showing — even enough so, at least, to earn himself the top spot in the draft.
While the fans here in Minnesota will put pressure on him, Cleveland would have been tougher. The Cavaliers need to win now and any mistakes he made would have hurt LeBron’s cause for three championships and more.
When LeBron decided to “come home” he was saying he needed to win now, especially with the contract he signed for only two years. In his letter he didn’t mention Wiggins, and before the trade happened, LeBron didn’t even talk to Wiggins. Our players will want to be around the young man a lot more than LeBron seemed to.
I, for one, am very pleased to get Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young — they are athletic and players who are full of potential. (Plus, I have always admired Young’s game.)
Some are more skeptical, but I think Timberwolves General Manager Flip Saunders did the best he could.
So, really, I’m happy to welcome all the new members of the Timberwolves to Minnesota and I’m excited to see what Coach Flip Saunders can do with GM Flip Saunders newly assembled roster.
What we hope to see from Andrew most is a man who can fall in love with the fans and the city, just as Garnett did. That’s on us as fans to show up and support him, and the team to get him the one thing that eluded Garnett’s time in Minny (a ring).
To Andrew, just know we will expect plenty, but we will be pleasantly surprised if you can lead us to even the eighth seed in the playoffs, with time. You have that time.