Where Andrew Wiggins Must Improve Before Making Leap to NBA in 2014
You wouldn't know it from his highlight reels, but Andrew Wiggins isn't the perfect prospect. He's got a few wrinkles that need to be ironed out before making his jump to the NBA life.
Wiggins is certainly good to go from a physical standpoint. He'll enter the league as one of the elite-level athletes in the game from Day 1.
But in terms of fundamentals and mechanics, Wiggins could use a little refining.
Wiggins doesn't have a poor handle; it just doesn't give him an advantage.
He relies on a blur of a first step and blow-by explosiveness to attack the rim. As a perimeter scorer, Wiggins relies on elevating higher than his man and shooting over the top.
He lacks that command of the ball—that ability to put a defender on skates or tie one's laces together with dribble misdirection.
A better handle could help improve his shot selection, particularly on the perimeter, where it would allow for a smoother transition into a more balanced jump shot.
He's also vulnerable to tunnel vision, or making up his mind without allowing it to change.
As a scorer, you need that tight handle to be able to set up the pull-up or step-back jumper. You need it to split double teams or to separate against premier-lockdown defenders—the type Wiggins is going to see on a consistent basis in the pros.
The whole shot-creating process starts with the dribble, and Wiggins' needs some fine-tuning.
Below, you'll see Wiggins has the ball on the wing with the space to pull up for an uncontested jumper:
But his choppy handle doesn't allow him to get there and smoothly set up into his delivery, resulting in an unforced turnover instead of an easy scoring opportunity.
His handle is bound to improve as he continues to develop, but it could be an initial hurdle once he makes the jump from freshman to rookie.
Wiggins can get a little lazy at time with his shot selection. He's got tremendous scoring confidence, which makes him believe any shot he gets off is a makeable one. That leads to a few questionable attempts per game.
Below, you'll see Wiggins catch the ball on the wing, where he has angles and a driving lane to attack. Wiggins eventually gets a screen, forcing the defenders to switch, leaving Wiggins with a sizable mismatch.
Wiggins puts it on the floor, and without an attempt to beat his man north and south, chooses to pick up his dribble and step back for a low-percentage look. It's a hero-ball shot, and one that Wiggins should try and cut out from his arsenal for the time being.
Outside Shooting, Range
Wiggins is a shot-maker, not a shooter, with the difference being a shot-maker is capable, while a shooter is proficient.
He can't connect yet with enough consistency, particularly from behind the arc. Wiggins can knock them down, but his chances of doing so drop dramatically the further he is from the rim.
His strength as a scorer is finishing in the lane. By becoming a bigger threat from outside, he'll have a counter for defenses who choose to pack the paint and take away the drive.
You just won't find too many NBA scoring wings who can't take over a game with the long ball.
Recognizing Scoring Opportunities, Identifying Best Option
The top scorers are able to recognize what tool to use for each dilemma they face. When the defense takes an option away from a scorer, it usually gives him an additional one elsewhere.
And for Wiggins to maximize his offensive potential, he needs to be able to recognize what that option is and how to attack it.
Check out Wiggins in a scoring sweet spot on the wing. With a rim protector in position down low, it's going to be tough for Wiggins to get to the rack for a balanced scoring opportunity, given the traffic and awaiting defenders in the paint.
Wiggins has to be able to recognize this and identify what the higher percentage scoring opportunity would be.
Take a look at all the space he has in the mid-range between his man and the interior defense. That's plenty of room for Wiggins to pull up or step back for a jumper, which in this case, would be a much higher percentage look than an off-balance, contested runner.
Instead, he chooses to recklessly drive into traffic with nowhere to go and coughs the ball up.
It's not as if he's incapable of hitting or creating that mid-range jumper—it's just a matter of recognizing it was the better play for that particular scoring opportunity.
Wiggins' decision-making process will be easier once his handle and outside accuracy improve. When they do, he'll be more comfortable operating and executing from different spots on the floor.
Any scouting report you'll read on Wiggins will tell you the exact same thing—he tends to drift. The game just comes so easy to him that he doesn't always appear to be locked in mentally.
Andrew Wiggins has tremendous ability/upside, but long way to go. Needs to play hard all the time. Was 5th or 6th-best player in practice.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) October 10, 2013
It's unlikely to impact his draft stock, as his talent is too overwhelming. But if Wiggins wants to compete with the big boys every night, he'll need to bring it on every possession—especially if he wants to live up to the ridiculous hype that surrounds him.
At the end of the day, even the current top NBA players all had weaknesses at 18 years old. The fact that Wiggins has a few doesn't lower his towering ceiling.
They just represent the immediate challenges he'll face as he makes his highly anticipated transition.
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