For the past few weeks, we’ve all heard that the Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins (not straight up) trade rumors are a real thing. It’s not a matter of if, but merely when, and even that seems to be revolving around the date of August 23rd. While there are a lot of things to be taken away from this pending deal, in the long run, this might be the most beneficial situation for all parties involved.
It’s pretty much a given at this point that Love wasn’t returning to the Minnesota Timberwolves under any circumstances after next season. On the other side, the return of LeBron James to Cleveland not only forces Wiggins to play out of position as a starter, but there was a very strong chance he wouldn’t get enough touches. All things considered, his best option will be to start his career in Minnesota.
It’s easy to look at Wiggins’s potential and assume that he’d be a natural fit in Cleveland where he can be mentored by LeBron and others. However, he’s still a rookie.On a team that’s building to win now, there isn’t much time to develop up-and-coming talents. New head coach David Blatt will not only have LeBron at his disposal, but the addition of Mike Miller as a reliable specialist will also play a major role in Cleveland. There aren’t enough minutes to go around, and with Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving (among others) on the roster there, and there certainly won’t be enough shots for Wiggins to develop as a shooter.
We all know Wiggins might be the most athletic player to enter the draft since LeBron, but if he can develop a shot, that gives him a chance to actually be a great basketball player.
Wiggins has never played an NBA game (Summer League not included), so there isn’t a ton to base off in terms of how he would fit in an NBA system. His athleticism and ability to defend well could be seen as attributes, but we don’t actually know for sure if that can translate into the pro’s.
Potential is great, but at some point you have to actually play. In Cleveland his chances of really transitioning to the NBA game were already going to be a struggle, and with limited minutes, he won’t have the luxury of a having long leash to learn.
That is why Wiggins going to Minnesota may ultimately prove to be the best thing for his career right now. The Timberwolves will feature a relatively young roster, and with lack of depth at the wing positions he’ll most likely get the start at small forward. Having a consistent option like Kevin Martin playing alongside him will allow him to grow organically. Wiggins will be put through a blender on some nights, but Minnesota has the pieces to at least hide his deficiencies. That’s also a double-edged sword, because the team as a whole still isn’t going to be good. They’ll be fast paced and energetic, but the wins certainly won’t reflect that.
An increased role for Wiggins will allow him to accurately gauge his learning curb. He’ll make mistakes, but he’ll have the chance to work on his missteps. While Ricky Rubio isn’t quite the explosive point guard that Kyrie Irving is, he’s certainly one of the most prolific passers in the game today. Those awkward moments that Wiggins will have as all rookies do will be easier to cope with because Rubio will certainly find him in some great spots. One of the most anticipated moments this season will be watching Wiggins, Rubio and Zach LaVine playing in unison on the fast-break.
Ultimately, Wiggins’s progression will be a trying time no matter where he plays. It will be a few years before we see just how good he is, but at least in Minnesota he’ll get a fast track to doing that. Sharing minutes on a loaded team isn’t going to do him any favors, but at least now he’ll be primed for a spot as a featured star. Not bad for a kid that’s been touted as the prized jewel of one of the most loaded drafts in recent history.