Welcome back to the triumphant return of “Is He Any Good?”, Pace and Space’s Thursday-ish (as I write this it’s an hour to midnight Pacific time) weekly feature, and this week, we kick off the season asking if Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves is, in fact, good or if he just puts up gaudy counting stats because he touches the ball so often.
More to the point, we’re getting out the flagrantly-stolen-from-Discovery Mythbusters plate graphics and asking the simple question:
Is Andrew Wiggins as good to the guys in the boardroom as he is to the guys in the barbershop?
Because guys who do this…
…don’t need me to tell the guys in the barbershop that they’re good.
Three-Pointers That Don’t Beat Buzzers
Wiggins’ biggest problem early in his career involved some nightmarish shooting. Like 43.7 overall and 31.0 from three in his rookie year, followed by 45.9 and 30.0 in Year 2. His three-point attempt rate stood at a mere .147 in that sophomore season, up from one shot in nine in his rookie campaign.
So he wasn’t DeMar DeRozan out there, but nor was he CJ Miles or Klay Thompson or even Paul George.
In Year 3, he discovered his range (a respectable 35.6 percent, including 103 makes), and in five games so far this year, he’s canned 9-of-24 for 37.5 percent and a 3PAR of .324.
In other words, he’s playing like a wing, and he’s improving as a direct result.
That Horrifying Defense
Did Tom Thibodeau forget how to coach defense? Or is his roster so averse to that end of the floor that even Thibs can’t make competent defenders of them?
Consider Wiggins’ defensive Box Plus/Minus through four seasons. Minus numbers of 1.8, 2,5, 2.9, and 4.6. Defense so bad that he has negative Defensive Win Shares through five ballgames and had 0.9 DWS in over 3,000 minutes.
If you lead the league in minutes and can’t manage one win share on that side of the ball, you suck at defense, full stop.
What’s more, he’s not enough of an offensive force in terms of efficiency to offset that, and for his career, he has a below-the-basketball-Mendoza-Line .056 WS/48.
That’s bad. Really bad. Horrendous for a No. 1 overall pick. And it’s why the boardroom hates him even as the highlight hounds love him.
Consistent Until He Ain’t
Wiggins from the free-throw line: .760, .761, .760…then .553. Unless he somehow forgot how to free throw, expect that to rise, but 21-of-38 is alarming.
At least he’s getting to the line for nearly eight a game, a career-high.
Or Maybe He’s Bad Enough To Be A Letter Leaguer
VORP, or “how much better is this guy than some dude they fished out of the G-League”, is basketball’s equivalent of WAR in baseball.
And by VORP, Wiggins was the biggest waste of minutes out there last year. He played 3,048 minutes. Led the league. Scored 1,933 points.
And posted a minus-0.6 VORP, suggesting that had Minnesota simply fished some dude who can hit a few threes and play a lick of defense out of the Letter League, that guy would’ve fared better if you threw him out there for 50 hours of basketball.
That is damning. And Wiggins is at a dead even zero through five games so far.
Remember the question we asked at the top?
Well, the advanced stats don’t lie. This one’s Busted.
Is Andrew Wiggins good? No. He isn’t. He just looks it because he puts up counting stats while playing a whole lot of minutes that would be better given to someone else.