The reason I was so eager to write about our No. 38 player, Andrew Wiggins (thanks for the opportunity, Ryno!), is because he and his game are so fresh in my mind. I knew from a distance for most of last season that Wiggins was having an excellent rookie year, but it’s not like I was watching a ton of Wolves games (wow will I have a different attitude about that this year) or paying super-close attention to what he was doing.

I’d pegged him as a “young T-Mac” back when he was in high school, and I meant that in a good and bad way. Good meaning hyper-athletic with elite scoring potential…bad meaning we might see some disinterest at times. Even from a distance, that assessment seemed off pretty quickly.

Wiggins adjusted very quickly to the NBA and was getting huge minutes and usage pretty much since Thanksgiving. Then, in the season’s last month, I got the Wiggins close-up. Thanks to being responsible for our Issue 189 cover story, I got the chance to see Andrew in person against the Blazers, interview he and others about his rapid progress, and watch him play more than I had all season. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

The athleticism is about as projected, but Wiggins is already stronger than I thought he’d be. He’s also willing to go in the low-post and bang a little bit, mostly to create room for scoring, but he’s a decent rebounder as well. The intensity is also not a problem at all, IMO.

Playing for a team with zero post-season aspirations once key players started dropping like flies, Wiggins took on the role of team leader, playing the most minutes of anyone in the NBA after December 1 and saving arguably his best performances for high-profile meetings with LeBron James and the almost-his-team Cavaliers.

The experience of watching Wiggins extra close, getting to interview him (and honestly, owning him in a Keeper Fantasy League) has combined to have me all sorts of pumped up on his future.

To review some actual factuals…The Canadian-born Wiggins goes 6-8 and 200 pounds, and he won’t turn 21 until after the 2016 All-Star Game (which will be held in Toronto…how would that be for a true coming-out party?) so there’s a great chance he’s going to get bigger, faster, stronger and taller.

He averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1 steal and 0.6 blocks per game. His PIE was 8.1. Like his size, there’s no reason all those numbers won’t keep growing, too.

With all this Wiggins enthusiasm in my life, when Ryne asked for votes, I put AW all the way up at…35. Seemed fair to me obviously but I assumed others weren’t so into him, and that I may have been a victim of recency bias in voting him so high.

But…he ended up at 38, so I’m not the only believer. Way to go, SLAM Top 50 voters! Now just go do your thing, Andrew.

38_wiggins_chart

SLAM Top 50 Players 2015
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Rajon Rondo Kings PG 14
49 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 9
48 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 9
47 Al Jefferson Hornets C 8
46 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 7
45 Goran Dragic Heat PG 13
44 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 11
43 Jeff Teague Hawks PG 12
42 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 6
41 Joakim Noah Bulls C 7
40 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
39 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
38 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 8



Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2015-16—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.