It’s been an unconventional start to a career for new Wolves guard Andrew Wiggins. It’s hard to call it a whirlwind summer but the former Kansas star has gone from being the first overall pick in the NBA draft of Cleveland to being trade bait for the first couple months of his career.
LeBron James chose to come back to Ohio and at first Wiggins thought it meant chasing titles for the next 5-7 years. In actuality Cavaliers brass thought that Kevin Love was a better running mate for James and the T-Wolves shipped off their 25-year-old disgruntled forward to acquire Wiggins, 2013 top pick Anthony Bennett and a protected 1st rounder in 2015
What The Trade Means For Wiggins
The trade from Cleveland to Minnesota has no salary implications for Wiggins, who is signed to the NBA rookie-scale contract of four years, with the last two being team options. That being said there could be some monetary withholding going from Cleveland to Minnesota. LeBron James is a staple on national TV broadcasts and the move to the Timberwolves could lessen Wiggins’ marketability with the limited exposure that Minnesota games receive. That being said, if the rookie can transcend into instant greatness, he’ll be a must-see ticket regardless so it all could be a moot point.
The 2014/15 Timberwolves
If Anthony Bennett can find some sort of semblance that made Cleveland desire him with the first overall pick in 2013, Minnesota could actually have a talented young roster. Ricky Rubio and Zach Lavine are two talented ball handlers both under the age of 23 with 21-year-old Shabazz Muhammad looking to battle back after an atrocious rookie season. Gorgui Dieng is a 6-11” second year player out of Louisville that forms an imposing front line along Nikola Pekovic. With Love out of the picture Minnesota can take a more defensive-minded approach, an important feat for a team that allowed 104.3 PPG last year while opponents shot 47 percent from the field.
Why Would Cleveland Give Up On Young Talent?
It’s hard not to be excited if you’re Minnesota Timberwolves fans. Granted one of the league’s premier players is leaving in the 25-year-old Love, but the odds were pretty stacked against him returning after the 2015 season anyway. Plus it’s not like Love’s 6-seasons with the team produced profound success anyway as Minnesota hasn’t made a playoff appearance since 2004.
With the additions of Wiggins, Bennett, and an additional first round pick next season to go with Rubio, Lavine, and that young core the strategy of Minnesota will shift a bit. With Kevin Love on the team they had more of a win-now mentality, even though it never actually happened. Now Wiggins and that young core can learn the NBA game and develop a rapport together, hopefully coming into their prime as the old dogs of the Western Conference (Spurs, Thunder, Rockets) see their playoff windows start to close.
It’s been a while since the Wolves were relevant in the NBA, but that time could be coming soon.