An Andrew Wiggins bounce back is needed. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the NBA draft. But later that summer, he was moved to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a blockbuster trade involving All-Star Kevin Love.
Leading up to the 2014 NBA draft, there was a lot of buzz and excitement about the 6’8″ forward – some even comparing him to LeBron James because of his athleticism.
Now Wiggins is looking to bounce back, and what he needs to do in order to live up to his lofty contract.
An Andrew Wiggins Bounce Back Season is Needed
Massive Hype Leading Up to NBA Draft
Wiggins grew up in Vaughan, Ontario which is a northern suburb of Toronto. He attended Vaughan secondary for his first two years of high school. For grade 11, Wiggins transferred to Huntington Prep School in West Virginia. In his senior year at Huntington Prep, Wiggins averaged 23.4 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game and 2.6 blocks per game.
Heavily recruited by Division 1 NCAA schools, he opted to play for the Kansas Jay Hawks. In his freshman year, Wiggins averaged 17.1 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game.
At the completion of his freshman year, Wiggins would declare himself eligible for the 2014 NBA draft.
A Special Player
Someone who has followed his career closely is Ted Badner. Badner is a former basketball referee and coach, who today, holds the title as the President of the HoopDome.
“I actually refereed a game of his and it was evident that he was a special player. He was ranked as the number one player from his days at Vaughan Secondary School. That is tremendous pressure to place on a 15-year-old kid,” noted the HoopDome president.
Wiggins like many other NBA players with Canadian connections such as Tristan Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, and Chris Bosh are no strangers to the HoopDome. The HoopDome is a state of the art, multi gymnasium basketball-only facility located in Toronto where a number of NBA players hold training camps or just go to play pick up basketball.
“Although he is obviously not the next LeBron, I would say he has had a solid career to date and is an exceptionally gifted basketball player,” Badner added.
Realizing a Childhood Dream
After being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in June of 2014, Wiggins spoke about how surreal it was to realize his childhood dream.
“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now. It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid,” said the then 19-year-old.
“My dream was just to make the NBA. Now going to high school and college, the opportunity and possibility of going number one came into the talk, and now I accomplished that. So it’s just a crazy feeling right now. I don’t really know how to feel. It doesn’t even feel real right now,” Wiggins continued.
“It’s a huge moment for me and my family right now, especially because my parents were pro athletes before. Now they can kind of like live the dream again through me and just watch their youngest son just do something special with his life and play at the highest level of basketball,” he added.
Solid First Three Seasons, But Disappointing Last Two
Wiggins showed steady improvements throughout his first three seasons in the NBA. In his rookie season, he averaged 16.9 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game to win the Rookie of the Year honors. His sophomore year, he would shoot 45.9 percent from the field while averaging 20.7 points per game. In his third season, Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting.
However, in his fourth and fifth seasons in the league, his numbers declined. Wiggins averaged only 17.7 points per game in the 2017-18 season and 18.1 points per game in the 2018-19 season.
There are many who believed that sharing the offensive touches with Jimmy Butler threw him slightly off his game. But with Butler now out of the picture in Minnesota, he is once again the true second option on the Timberwolves squad behind Karl-Anthony Towns.
Motivation for an Andrew Wiggins Bounce Back
During the recent Timberwolves’ media day, Wiggins talked about his motivation to bounce back from his struggles over the past two seasons.
“You learn from it. And it’s nothing but motivation. Knowing that people are going to doubt you. People are thinking that you lost a step and all those things. The fact that I can prove people wrong makes me want to work harder and want to be great,” said the now 24-year-old small forward.
Wiggins specifically spoke about the extra work he put in at the gym over the summer with the goal of bouncing back in a big way this season.
“Really just focused. I had a really consistent schedule working out throughout the whole day. Being around NBA players and great trainers,” he pointed out about his offseason training regimen.
Wiggins and his teammates kick off their regular season against the Brooklyn Nets on October 23rd.
Something to Prove
It is evident that the young Canadian is eager to prove that he is still capable of living up to the hype that accompanied him when he first entered the NBA.
At 24, Wiggins now has the maturity to understand that the criticism he’s received from the media and basketball insiders might not be a bad thing. But instead, it’s something he can use as motivation to elevate his game to that next level.
“People will critique you because they think you can get better,” he noted. “So I use that as motivation to get better. So I’m going to keep growing and keep learning and adding to my game.”
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