The have been tough to watch as of late. Since a peculiar home win against a very good Portland Trail Blazers team back on December 10, the Wolves have won just once. That win came earlier this week, following a 15-game losing streak that saw them go more than a full month before winning a game. They’ve been missing at least three starters (, , and ) in their lineup since November 19. The Wolves have been a mess.
What we’ve seen is a team of young role players being asked to be veterans on the court, and there just isn’t enough cohesiveness with guys trying to soak up as much experience as possible in a short amount of time to turn energy and enthusiasm into victories. There has been one positive out of the team goiCoventry City will groundshare at Championship Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s for the 2019-20 season after failing to agree a deal to stay at the Ricoh Arena.They had hoped to remain in Coventry but said the deadline for an agreement with Ricoh landlong 1-15 over their last six games, and it’s the man in charge of turning their franchise around once and for all.
The play of Andrew Wiggins over the last 11 games has been worthy of your attention. Whether you’re trudging along through Wolves’ games with the rest of us as they rack up losses or you’re just searching out Wiggins’ , his improvement has been noticeable. During the first month of the season, Wiggins was teething with uneasy jump shot decisions and playing solid defense. He attacked the rim the best he could but was often out of control because the speed of the game was second nature to him yet.
Over his last 11 games though, the speed of the game seems to be completely comfortable, almost form fitting to his abilities. His shooting percentage has skyrocketed and he’s becoming the scorer that’s necessary for stardom. It’s not just the fact that he’s scoring either; it’s the way he’s scoring against defenses while on an overmatched team that is so encouraging.
It started when Wiggins faced “his old team,” the Cleveland Cavaliers. It could have been a coincidence the team that drafted him No. 1 overall and traded him two months later just happens to be a terrible defensive team. Or perhaps it was Wiggins wanting to show them they made a mistake. That game broke him out of a funk and kicked off this stretch of basketball. He scored 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting that night.
Prior to that game against the Cavs, Wiggins was averaging 12.0 points on 38.5 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from 3, and 70.2 percent from the free throw line. In his last 11 games, he’s averaging 20.9 points on 48.9 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from 3, and 77.4 percent from the s he’s unhappy with VAR this season.Conte feels it’s being poorly used this season.”It is not being used in the same way by everyone,” Conte said at a Press conference.”It is important for the big calls. Last year I was more confident with it, but tofree throw line. He’s scored 20 or more points in nine of those 11 games. What has been the big difference in Wiggins’ scoring during that time?
Mostly, he’s been confident attacking the basket and using his extraterrestrial athleticism around the rim. in the back in November. Back then the talk was about getting him comfortable with his jump shot and how to attack off the dribble. Wiggins isn’t great at dribbling, making him susceptible to moments with the ball that are similar to a young fawn figuring out its steps on a frozen lake.
It makes sense that someone like Wiggins would struggle a bit early on. While he showed flashes right away and was instantly defending the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer from the first day, his offense was a work in progress. That meant if he wasn’t aggressive, he was floating. When he was floating, he was sitting right in that midrange area, where so many coaches want their opponents shooting jumpers. Wiggins was getting around the rim 36.1 percent of the time for shots and floating in midtown with his jumper 29.8 percent of the time.
That was a ratio that simply couldn’t breed success. Part of that could be 1) the ball handling and 2) trying to troubleshoot how to finish against NBA rim protectors. As you can see in the chart above, Wiggins wasn’t even making half of his attempts around the rim, finishing 47.7 percent of those shots. His biggest problem around the rim was avoiding contact instead of learning how to absorb and finish through it.
In this miss against the Kings back in November, Wiggins is protecting the ball as he goes inside against . But he also turns his body away from Cousins while he’s in the air. Contorting his body adds a lot more motion to correct and balance as he’s going to finish the shot against a giant human being like Cousins. It adds so much more difficulty to the shot, and while he can finish it, it doesn’t mean it’s a smart way to attack.
Where he’s found his way is making sure his body is under control and he’s attacking the open areas of the floor before he gets airborne. Once he’s airborne, he’s staying fundamentally sound as he finishes through contact, which is giving him much better success. Around the rim is also where he’s attempting half of his shot attempts now.
Over the last 11 games, Wiggins is taking 50.0 percent of his shots around the rim. Those jumpers from midtown that he was floating to? Those have gone down significantly over this stretch of games. Just 17.1 percent of his shots have been midrange jumpers during the last 11 games. We’ve also seen an uptick in his 3-point attempts (11.1 percent of his shots to 16.1 percent) and his 3-point percentage (36.4 percent to 41.4 percent).
Perhaps Wiggins’ shot attempts inside have increased because the confidence is there to finish. The confidence is there because he’s learning how to use his athleticism to reposition his body in-air after contact and find a way to finish the play. That’s why he’s making 60.9 percent of his shots around the rim as of late.
As you can see in the play below, Wiggins body positioning looks fantastic. Flip Saunders uses his star rookie out of the post a lot, especially when he finds a strong but smaller guard defending him. Saunders is making sure they utilize this mismatch because they’ve had so few match-up advantages on offense with their other starters out due to injury.
Wiggins doesn’t contort his body or try to avoid the contact in the hopes of protecting the ball here against the Suns. He’s putting his shoulder into the rotating , taking the contact and staying squared to the basket as he finishes the play. This is the biggest difference in his game since he started becoming a scoring machine. The confidence is catching up to the athleticism and that’s opening up the floodgates for points.
He’s also become so much more comfortable using a spin move he’s loved to utilize since high school. When I talked to Wiggins in Novembeopened up on Leicester City’s post-match huddle after the win over Bournemouth last Saturday.The Foxes gathered in the middle of King Power Stadium, along with manager Brendan Rodgers, after moving up to third on the Premier League table.”The mood’s r, he said the spin wasn’t anything he could plan. It was simply something he used off instinct and it “happens when it happens.” He knows he’s got it in his bag of tricks when he needs it.
His ability to judge the defense is getting better and we’re seeing the spin move turn into points almost every game. In this attempt in the lane against the Pacers, he spins away from potential big man help to the right of the lane on his drive and spins to the other side of the hoop.
As you can see on the move, he gathers and remains balance, which helps him circumvent the helping guard from the left side of the defense. Once he’s balanced and jumping straight up in the air, it’s his length and athleticism against the length and athleticism of the defender. He should feel pretty confident winning that battle in almost every match-up he has at the rim.
This hyped rookie class has been a disappointment, mostly because so many of them have fallen to injuries. Half of the 14 lottery picks have suffered injuries that have caused the to miss significant time (or are playing in Europe like Sixers’ prospect Dario Saric). Despite a slow start while he got his feet wet, Wiggins is starting to show off the star quality that was lauded prior to being drafted as the top pick of this class.
While it’s easy to look at the Wolves’ record on the surface and dismiss this team, it’s getting harder and harder to dismiss the play of Wiggins unless you just don’t want to pay attention to his team on the court. As they get healthier and more competitive, he’ll get a chance to make these great stretches of basketball become the norm for him and potentially help turn it into wins.
Until then, you might just want to keep an eye on the Wolves and check in to see whether or not Wiggins is filling up the scoring column most nights. With what we’ve seen lately, that’s becoming something you can count on from Wiggins.