In a loss to Florida that was a lot more lopsided than the 67-61 score would suggest, Andrew Wiggins finished with his best individual performance of the season Tuesday night.
He went for his first career double-double with 26 points and 11 boards, though you might not have known it unless you were tracking the box score possession by possession.
It was probably the quietest 26 and 11 you'll see all year. And that's Wiggins style for better or worse.
Throughout the evening, Wiggins' strengths and weaknesses were flashed in blinding fashion—as was his appetizing upside.
He made some plays that dropped your jaws and others that raised your brows.
From a positive standpoint, Wiggins is excelling in all the areas he's supposed to. He's proving to be the most unstoppable open-floor weapon in the country. His athleticism, instincts and size are simply too overwhelming in transition, where he effortlessly glides through, around and above traffic or challengers at the rim.
He's automatic on the break and has the ability to get his team easy buckets by pushing the tempo off misses, steals or blocks.
As a half-court scorer, Wiggins isn't as refined or advanced as Duke's Jabari Parker, but he's showing promising signs of offensive growth.
With the game slowed down, Wiggins is a lot more effective taking it north and south to rack, as opposed to shaking his men east and west on the perimeter. So Florida played zone against Kansas in order to neutralize Wiggins' attack game.
He was ultimately forced into taking more jumpers than he'd like, though Wiggins did knock down four catch-and-shoot threes from behind the arc. Prior, he'd only made seven threes through eight games on 33 percent shooting.
His outside stroke isn't a strength, but it's certainly not broken.
The highlight of Wiggins' performance actually came on an isolation opportunity at the end of the first half, an area of his game that lacks polish. But Wiggins went to work with what might have been his best move of the season, and one that he'll need to add into his everyday repertoire if he wants to evolve into a go-to NBA scorer.
Wiggins hit his defender with a pretty step-back jumper, a move that can multiply the threat he poses as a one-on-one scorer. Almost all of the jumpers Wiggins has made this year have come on spot-up opportunities, so this was an encouraging sign of hopefully more perimeter scoring to come.
Still, despite all the positives that came from Wiggins' performance and stat line, the flaws in his game and mentality were both easily detectable.
For starters, his handle is still visibly loose, and it affects his ability to get to spots on the floor. He just doesn't have that tight command of the ball yet, and it limits him as a shot creator in the halfcourt.
Look how easily he's stripped in a face-up situation:
It's a lot tougher to execute a move, blow by a defender or weave through clutter without the ability to control the ball on a string. And because of it, he's been forced into passing around defenders instead of putting it on the floor and beating them.
The good news is that a handle is something that can improve over time. What's worrisome is Wiggins' approach to the game—something that was questioned in high school prior to his arrival on the national scene.
Andrew Wiggins is a quiet dude, both on and off the floor. And that's OK. But many have questioned whether he has that killer instinct possessed by most featured offensive options. With the No. 1 pick in one of the deepest draft pools in recent memory, talent alone may not cut it.
Scouts, executives and NBA decision-makers are going to want to know whether Wiggins has that cold-blooded competitive edge to take over a game if necessary.
While Wiggins managed to put up 26 points, most of them came when his team was getting crushed.
"He became a Kodak man," Dick Vitale said of Wiggins during the broadcast, referencing his tendency to stand around and seemingly take pictures of the play ahead of him. Wiggins just seems content playing a complementary role in the offense, and that's not going to sit well with general managers looking for a new top gun.
Despite all the production from Wiggins, most of it came in meaningless minutes.
|Time of First Made FG||Time of Second Made FG|
|1st Half vs Florida||18:11||3:40|
|Time of First Made FG||Time of Second Made FG|
|2nd Half vs Florida||17:03||2:26|
Wiggins went over 14 straight minutes between made field goals in each half. With his team in need of buckets, he just never really took the initiative until the game was out of reach.
The scary part is that he's still finding ways to put up points in volume, which is why scouts will remain high on him regardless of his output. A skill set for him to build on long term is currently in place, and while it needs some fine-tuning, the ingredients are there. The only real concern is that he appears satisfied with taking a backseat.
The NBA guys are going to want to see Wiggins activate takeover mode moving forward, even if it results in misses here and there. Overall, it's tough to be critical when he's going for 26 and 11 on the road. Wiggins shot the ball extremely well, with five of his buckets coming on jumpers against Florida.
But he still has a ways to go in terms of showcasing the complete package. With conference play rapidly approaching, Wiggins might want to turn up the noise a little bit. The more aggressive he plays, the more appealing he'll ultimately look.
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