How good is Andrew Wiggins?

People have been talking all season about how good Andrew Wiggins has been in his rookie year. The kid as essentially run away with the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Wiggins has been the bright spot in a dismal season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The real question is, is Wiggins really a dominant force, or is he just the favorite by default.

This has been a very weak rookie class so far. Only five players are averaging more than ten points per contest this season. Wiggins is the only one average more than 12 with his 16.7 points per game. (Jabari Parker was over 12 a night prior to being injured this season). Wiggins also ranks fifth among qualified rookies in rebounds per game this season. He also sits fifth in terms of steals per contest and sixth in rejections. Wiggins is shaping himself into a very capable all-around player.

One major knock against Wiggins despite all of his talent is his underwhelming assist-to-turnover ratio. He may only be a small forward, but with the amount of time Wiggins spends on the ball, (22.1% usage rating) it would be nice to see Wiggins as a distributor. He is one of only a few players that owns a ratio under 1 sitting at 0.91 assists for every turnover. In fact, he is the only small forward to play 30 minutes or more per game yet still post a ratio under one.

The kid out of Kansas is still young though and has a long time to develop that side of his game. It really should not be much of a concern. The overall athleticism he exudes though is tantalizing for anyone with interest in the Wolves. It might seem harsh to judge the kid on what he has done through just one season but I am curious to see how he stacks up with some of the other top picks in the past several years.

Already, Wiggins is in elite company. Of the top picks since 2008, five out of six have been named All-stars. Those players include Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis. The only one yet to live up his billing as the top pick is Wiggins’ teammate, Anthony Bennett. It is not really fair to compare Wiggins to the last small forward drafted first overall either, seeing as that was LeBron James. However, there are a couple of other star small forwards we can compare this budding superstar.

Carmelo Anthony was taken in the same draft as James. His numbers put up against Wiggins’ are superior although not by much. Anthony averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 0.5 blocks per outing as a rookie playing for the Denver Nuggets. However, he also posted an assist-to-turnover ratio that was under one. Wiggins actually trumps Melo in shooting percentage though with 43.6 compared to 42.3.

Wiggins also stacks up pretty comparably with Kevin Durant’s rookie season. Obviously, the huge discrepancy in height makes this comparison a little tough but Durant averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game. Durant has the edge in the scoring department but once again, Wiggins is shooting at a higher percentage, especially from behind the arc. Durant posted a 28.8 percent success rate from three his rookie year; meanwhile, Wiggins has drained 32.5 percent of his takes. Once again, Durant had an assist-to-turnover ratio below one.

The best comparison for Wiggins though might be to a former Boston legend. Not many others have played better than Paul Pierce over the course of his career. Pierce is also the same style player as Wiggins, switching between a two-guard and a winger. Pierce had a very similar stat line to Wiggins when he first began playing for the Celtics back in 1999. Pierce tallied 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.75 steals and 1 block a night, however only in 48 games. Those are not too far off from Wiggins is doing now and Pierce posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of almost exactly one. If this means that Wiggins is destined to average 21, 6 and 4, I think fans in Minnesota will be more than content with that.

While it looks like he is running away with this years’ award, keep in mind that Wiggins still has a lot of growing to do before he can be considered an elite player. However, with him only at 19 and oozing with potential I don’t think the growth will be that hard to come by. Wiggins has the potential to be a perennial All-star in this league and maybe even make Minnesota competitive in a couple of years. With Wiggins at the center of a young core, it seems like the Wolves are off to a good start. His presence certainly makes it easier to forget the absence of certain Love Minnesota used to have.

Nets looking to restart?

The rumors have quieted a little bit but apparently, the Brooklyn Nets might be looking to hit the reset button. The Nets front office locked up what was occasionally referred to as “The Big 5.” It began years ago when the Nets picked Brook Lopez in the 2008 NBA Draft. Brooklyn traded with Utah back in 2011 to land Deron Williams. The front office stepped up and traded for Atlanta’s Joe Johnson in 2012. The Nets finished collecting superstars in 2013 when they made a draft night trade to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics. This group has been together for less than two full years. That is a pretty small window of opportunity to prove that this group win a title, but it seems like they are running out of time fast.

Pierce already jumped ship and joined the Washington Wizards as a free agent this past off-season. Lopez has been injury prone playing only 33 games since the start of last season. Williams’ ankles have rendered him slow and unable to cope with the same number of minutes he once played. Garnett is starting to show his age. Not many players can still contribute at 38 years old. Johnson is the only one who has continued to perform in a Nets uniform into 2014. He is the only one of this starting five (well now four with Pierce gone) that I can see staying with the Nets past this years’ trade deadline. At least the only one the Nets might want to keep. Plus, his contract is difficult to move. Lopez might not be able to be moved because of his injury history. Brooklyn should find suitors for Garnett and Williams. Neither one of them can carry a team the NBA anymore but they can both contribute to a title contending team. Here is where I could see those two moving.

Williams could go to another team in the Eastern Conference such as Indiana who has been devastated by injuries at guard this year. Williams could also move to the other team from the Eastern Conference Finals last season in Miami. The Heat has been looking for an upgrade at point guard over Mario Chalmers for years. Shabazz Napier could become that player in a few seasons but he is not that player right now. Houston has been busy recently with trades but it could potentially be in play for a move for Williams. Having him setting James Harden and Dwight Howard is a scary thought. I think the most likely possibility here is Miami as they are the ones with the most tradable pieces.

For Lopez, if he is moved. I could see him landing in Golden State. The Warriors tried hard to land Kevin Love but instead they could land Lopez and make a title run if he can stay healthy. The Lakers have also been in the market for anyone who is not currently under contract. Getting a big man who can score in the paint won’t get the Lakers to the playoffs but it will get them on the right track and maybe help them acquire another big name player in the off season. The Suns could also be in play for Lopez. Phoenix could use an upgrade at center and could move Eric Bledsoe finally as has been rumored for about a year now.

Lastly, Garnett might find his way back to one of his former teams. I could see him playing for either Minnesota or Boston in his final few seasons as a way for the organizations draw fans while they rebuild. I could also see him joining Toronto if it chooses to add another frontcourt weapon before making a playoff run. The Raptors currently sit atop the Eastern Conference but a deeper team featuring Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas and Garnett rotating in could be scary for teams to deal with.

I don’t know if the Nets organization will definitely hit the panic button and restart but I think it might be a wise move. The longer this team stays together, the more Brooklyn is putting off attempting to find young talent to replace this aging crew. I think the Nets need a fresh start. Building around Joe Johnson for the time being could be the plan. They might also hope that building around Lopez is still an option. Either way, this team needs to start moving in a different direction.