The 1 Flaw Each Top Young NBA Player Needs to Work on This Summer

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistMay 24, 2017

The 1 Flaw Each Top Young NBA Player Needs to Work on This Summer

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    It's never too late to improve.

    Even the NBA's best players continue to add new elements to their arsenal each and every summer, making a point to use the offseason productively and become even deadlier. LeBron James has a new wrinkle whenever he returns, and the same is true of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and every other bona fide superstar.

    But younger players are even more malleable. They also have more to work on, so it's important to focus first on shoring up the biggest flaw. Fix that, and they'll make the biggest possible strides, eventually competing for Most Improved Player, earning larger contracts and solidifying statuses as true up-and-comers.

    Among the top 15 youngsters, based on my rankings of the top 100 players at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and looking only at those who won't celebrate their 24th birthdays before the start of the 2017-18 season (reportedly Oct. 15 at the earliest), there are no exceptions. Each one has a distinct element to his game that needs substantial improvement. 


    The following players are listed in alphabetical order.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, PG/SG/SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Perimeter Shooting

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 22

    Per-Game Stats: 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.9 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 26.1 PER, 4.21 RPM, 425.68 TPA


    Keeping Giannis Antetokounmpo away from the basket is already a dizzyingly difficult task. Defenders can sag off him to no avail since his lengthy strides and lanky limbs still make it easy for him to dart past and finish the play at the rim.

    But just imagine the terrors he could unleash if he supplemented his driving game with a quality perimeter shot that forced defenders to remain up in his jersey. He'd immediately become a threat to win the scoring title, making good on all the upside that still lays dormant, even as he's already ascended to an All-NBA level.

    Antetokounmpo is scoring 22.9 points per game, but he's doing so while knocking down just 27.2 percent of his three-point attempts. Taking a few steps in doesn't solve his jump-shooting woes, either. The young Milwaukee Buck connected on only 34.2 percent of his two-pointers from at least 16 feet, and he made attempts from between 10 and 16 feet at a 33.8 percent clip.

    Fortunately for the Bucks, he can improve.

    There were a few stretches during 2016-17 in which he started rising and firing with confidence, rather than hesitating and throwing a pump fake before elevating for his shot. Whenever that happened, he swished the ball through the net with much more frequency, lending credence to the belief that he could soon overcome his biggest—and, really, only—glaring flaw.

Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns: Defense in General

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 20

    Per-Game Stats: 22.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.6 PER, minus-1.29 RPM, minus-131.2 TPA


    Offense isn't an issue for Devin Booker, who managed to explode for a 70-point showcase against the Boston Celtics during his sophomore season. He's a deadly marksman whose shot selection improved throughout the year, making him far more than a volume scorer by the end of that second go-round.

    Defense, however, is.

    According to NBA Math's defensive points saved (DPS), Booker provided more negative value on the preventing end than everyone in the Association not named Isaiah Thomas or Andrew Wiggins.'s defensive real plus-minus (DRPM) had the young 2-guard ranked No. 451 out of 468 players. The Phoenix Suns were poor defensively without Booker, and they still allowed 2.3 more points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor.

    Booker's all-around defense really is as atrocious as those numbers may lead you to believe. He's completely out of place as an isolation defender (8.4 percentile), though he doesn't struggle too much when guarding pick-and-roll ball-handlers (62.4 percentile).

    It's when he's attempting to slow down spot-up shooters that he's woefully overmatched. Booker spends far too much time cheating away from his man or flat-out losing him as he's running through screens and attempting to extricate himself from the Phoenix defense. In that situation, foes scored 1.07 points per possession, which left Booker in the 31.5 percentile.

    Sure, that's better than his isolation work. But it's even more problematic because that play type popped up almost four times as frequently during his sophomore campaign.

Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers: Health

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.5 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 24.1 PER, 1.69 RPM, 51.61 TPA


    Joel Embiid was not a perfect basketball player during his first 31 NBA appearances.

    Though he thrived on both ends of the floor, to the point that he would've been a fringe Defensive Player of the Year contender with a larger body of work while still scoring over 20 points per game, he fouled far too frequently and had trouble with turnovers. Improving those facets of his game will go a long way.

    But the first priority has to be health.

    Embiid's biggest flaw is, quite simply, that he can't stay on the floor. Even while working with a strict minutes restriction during his delayed rookie season, he dealt with a troublesome left knee that eventually required surgery to repair a torn meniscus. This could merely be a fluke injury, but it still means he should be doing everything in his power over the offseason to improve his durability.

    Sure, some players are naturally more prone to maladies than others. Greg Oden's career wasn't shortened so drastically because he didn't work hard to rehabilitate and strengthen his body. But Embiid doesn't want to even consider traveling down that route, which means he must spend the summer building up muscle to accommodate for problematic joints, tendons and bones.

    He'll inevitably be under a minutes restriction again in 2017-18, and he'll likely sit out more than a handful of games for much-needed preventative rest and recovery. But wouldn't it be nice if he could last a full season and attempt to drag the Philadelphia 76ers into the playoff picture?

Gary Harris, SG, Denver Nuggets: Takeover Instinct

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.5 PER, 0.5 RPM, 58.39 TPA


    Gary Harris' mentality was contagious in 2016-17.

    Few players throughout the league were better at scoring off cuts, and his willingness to make hard bursts toward the hoop and wait for a pass from Nikola Jokic inspired the rest of his teammates to expend similar levels of energy. Playing on a team that doesn't reward cuts can lead to a decline in willingness to test the waters, but the Denver Nuggets saw how frequently Harris was rewarded and reacted accordingly.

    Between that and his 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc, the Michigan State product was a legitimate candidate for Most Improved Player, even if he won't win the award. His per-game numbers weren't lofty enough, and both Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo are far more deserving of the honor.

    But Harris still improved, showcasing his scoring acumen in two completely different situations. Now, it's time for him to add a third: putting up points off the bounce.

    During his third professional season, Harris needed assists on 97.2 percent of his made triples and 66.2 percent of his buckets within the arc. It's perfectly fine to operate almost solely as an off-ball threat, but his role may be changing as the Nuggets continue to progress. They need another player who can threaten defenses and serve as a go-to scorer in late-game situations, and that need will only grow if Danilo Gallinari ends up leaving in free agency.

    Harris could stagnate and function as a good, but not great, two-way player. He could also improve his pull-up game and take that proverbial next step.

Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets: Interior Defense

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 22

    Per-Game Stats: 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 26.4 PER, 6.72 RPM, 342.24 TPA


    Nikola Jokic certainly wasn't a sterling defender during his breakout season, but he could at least hold his own in some situations.

    He subscribed to the Marc Gasol school of defense—admittedly, an extremely poor man's version of it—by using proper positioning and schematic understanding to account for his athletic limitations. Whether he was hedging against pick-and-rolls, disrupting passing lanes by anticipating crosscourt feeds or bodying up and preventing men from getting deep positioning in the half-court set, he wasn't a disaster.

    But then comes the interior defense.

    Granted, the Denver Nuggets didn't help him out. They were arguably the league's worst team at preventing dribble penetration, with the guards often acting as matadors and ushering opposing ball-handlers into the paint. That just added to Jokic's difficulties since attacking him at the hoop was an easy way for foes to score points in bunches.

    The big man faced 7.8 shots per game while protecting the rim, and he allowed opponents to shoot 56.9 percent on those attempts. Among the 61 players who registered at least five shots defended per contest, only Marcin Gortat (57.5 percent) and Julius Randle (59.5 percent) were easier to score against.

    Preventing penetration is the first step to improving Denver's shoddy defense. But Jokic showing better instincts around the hoop would also go a long way.

Zach LaVine, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves: Off-Ball Defense

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 22

    Per-Game Stats: 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.6 PER, minus-2.96 RPM, minus-10.34 TPA


    When Zach LaVine is in the stance you can see above, he doesn't have too much trouble parlaying his athleticism into quality defense. Opponents scored just 0.57 points per possession against him before he tore his ACL, which left him in the 95th percentile.

    But they knew that, and they reacted accordingly. Only 6.2 percent of LaVine's defensive possessions were classified as isolations. A much larger portion (27.9 percent) fell under the scope of spot-up plays, and that's where the young 2-guard struggled immensely.

    LaVine was more than a bit prone to losing his mark. Whether attempting to help excessively or not possessing the discipline to stick with his man and provide a heavy contest on the ensuing three-point attempt, he allowed 1.08 points per possession, sinking him all the way down to the 28.9 percentile.

    The good news is that he wasn't the worst spot-up defender with his first name since Zach Randolph allowed 1.12 points per possession. The bad news is that taking solace in outperforming Randolph's perimeter defense is setting the bar way too low.

    "It's crunch time, it's mano a mano. Dwyane Wade is a future Hall of Famer, and you've just got to buckle up," LaVine said after a successful late-game contest against Wade in a December matchup, per Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press. "I always felt like I'm a good one-on-one defensive player, so I just kept him in front, got a [contested shot] up, and that's what you've got to do."

    Now, the focus has to shift to those pesky off-ball scenarios.

Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Dallas Mavericks: Mid-Range Jumpers

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 20.4 PER, 1.25 RPM, 68.96 TPA


    No matter how deadly Nerlens Noel is as an alley-oop threat, he won't get enough offensive opportunities until he can provide some semblance of floor-spacing. When he's playing, it's far too easy for defenders to sag back and contest looks around the rim, even clogging up the spacing for the rest of the Dallas Mavericks.

    It was true early in his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, and it remained valid after a surprising midseason trade to his current home—which, granted, he could leave in free agency this summer. Throughout his NBA tenure, Noel has tried to improve his mid-range jumper, but to no avail.

    We're not referring to the potential addition of a three-point stroke. That's way too far down the road for a player who's made one of his three attempts over a three-year stretch. We're not even worried about deep twos, since taking 20-footers should come after becoming proficient from half that distance.

    Noel is a capable free-throw shooter, improving his percentage at the stripe from 60.9 percent during his rookie season to 69.4 percent throughout the 2016-17 campaign. In 22 appearances for the Mavericks, he even hit 70.8 percent of his freebies, indicating that the ability to expand his range beyond the paint really is a legitimate goal.

    But still, his field-goal percentage from between 10 and 16 feet has declined each year of his career. He opened at 30.9 percent, sunk to 30.6 percent as a sophomore and could only connect on 24.1 percent of his looks this past season. Factor in declining frequency each year, and that becomes even more concerning.

    If he's not lofting up thousands of short jumpers this summer, he's allocating his time incorrectly.

Jusuf Nurkic, C, Portland Trail Blazers: Conditioning

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 17.5 PER, 0.63 RPM, minus-8.5 TPA


    "Most people in Denver knew he was talented, but people begin to question his effort and conditioning, and he spent most of this season going through the motions," Andrew Sharp wrote for Sports Illustrated about Jusuf Nurkic in early March. "This is probably why the Nuggets had to give him away before the trade deadline. In a league that's getting smaller and faster every year, not many teams needed an inefficient low-post scorer who can't stay in shape and doesn't always play hard."

    Then, Nurkic got motivated.

    He was excellent during his initial stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, at least until a non-displaced right fibular fracture ended his regular season prematurely and prevented him from going up against the Golden State Warriors at full strength during the playoffs' opening round. Showing off new elements (pinpoint passing chief among them), he thrived in his new digs, looking nothing like the player who could barely get off the Denver bench months earlier.

    But is this sustainable?

    Conditioning has plagued the young big man throughout his career, and he's now ready to embark upon his most featured role yet. Nurkic has never played in more than 70 games during a single season, and he set a new career high in 2016-17 by logging just 21.4 minutes per game—29.2 over the course of 20 appearances with Rip City.

    The 2017-18 season will surely test his endurance.

Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Defense in General

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 22

    Per-Game Stats: 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 19.1 PER, minus-0.79 RPM, 10.2 TPA


    Jabari Parker looked like he would feature heavily into the Most Improved Player race before another torn ACL ended his 2016-17 efforts. But the improvements all came on offense, where he morphed into a well-rounded scorer who could pepper opponents with accurate jumpers before using his bounce to finish cuts and transition attacks around the rim.

    His defense didn't improve so much as stagnate while he grew on the more glamorous end.

    To have it follow suit, he'll need to work on two things over the offseason.

    First, he must add strength. It was too easy for bigger players to push him around on the blocks, establishing advantageous positioning and then bullying him en route to the rim. If he's to continue spending time at both small forward and power forward, he has to build up a bit more muscle so he can set his feet and hold ground against opposing 4s.

    Second, he needs to become more comfortable navigating through screens. Whether he was covering ball-handlers in the pick-and-roll (20.3 percentile) or chasing a shooter who was navigating past an off-ball pick (55.2 percentile), he tended to get caught up in the schemes and sag behind his mark. Just improving his ability to read and react would go a long way because closing by even a few inches more can have a tangible impact.

    It's a tough ask for someone rehabbing their second torn ACL, but Parker will still be only 22 years old when the 2017-18 campaign begins.

Elfrid Payton, PG, Orlando Magic: Shooting

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 17.2 PER, 0.34 RPM, 43.78 TPA


    With few exceptions, point guards in today's NBA must provide some semblance of three-point shooting in order to survive. Ricky Rubio can get by with his pinpoint accuracy as a distributor. Tony Parker remains a devastating mid-range shooter. John Wall and Russell Westbrook have nearly unmatched athleticism at the position. But the exceptions truly are few and far between, and each of them has a singular calling card to which defenses must pay attention.

    Elfrid Payton doesn't.

    The Orlando Magic floor general improved on both ends of the court during his age-22 season, but the team's offense still didn't quite hum while he was on the floor. Part of the blame rests with the ill-advised roster construction, but Payton's complete inability to threaten defenses with the three-ball didn't help. Though he took a career-high 1.8 triples per game, he connected at a 27.4 percent clip.

    Watch Orlando operate in the half-court set, and it won't take you long to spot action that's stymied when a defender ducks under a screen and eliminates a driving lane. They're daring Payton to shoot, and he's either refusing to do so or throwing up an attempt that clangs harmlessly off the iron.

    The former Louisiana-Lafayette standout can still be a legitimate starter in the Association. He proved as much during the 2016-17 campaign, posting above-average scores in each of the three advanced metrics listed above.

    But if there's ever going to be a true breakout, it won't happen until he can shoot.

Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, New York Knicks: Defending in Space

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 22

    Per-Game Stats: 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.0 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 17.4 PER, 1.59 RPM, 8.66 TPA


    Kristaps Porzingis is best when he's allowed to play center and protect the rim, but the New York Knicks seem intent on stunting his growth by pushing him to a more uncomfortable position. During his sophomore season, a whopping 79 percent of his minutes came at power forward, which forces him away from the basket and into unfamiliar territory.

    Typically, it's in a team's best interest to let its premier rim-protector, well, protect the rim. But even though Porzingis allowed opponents to shoot just 44.1 percent at the tin, he faced only 7.8 shots per game. Instead, he was often asked to guard players on the perimeter.

    And he struggled.

    Porzingis sat in the 35.9 percentile for points per possession allowed to spot-up shooters. He was tormented by smaller players after switches in the pick-and-roll. Opponents knew they could pull him away from the basket and attack the vacated space while his size and length were negated by the unfortunate distance between himself and the restricted area.

    In an ideal world, the Knicks would realize the error of their ways and remedy it by changing his role. But that doesn't seem likely to happen, which means Porzingis should spend the summer working on his lateral quickness and perimeter instincts. In order to make the most of his jaw-dropping two-way upside, he'll have to be able to slow stretch 4s and switch onto smaller players with more confidence, which he may already be attempting to accomplish with some unorthodox training away from his NBA franchise.

D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Los Angeles Lakers: Interior Finishing

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 21

    Per-Game Stats: 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.3 PER, minus-1.68 RPM, minus-14.86 TPA


    For whatever reason, D'Angelo Russell isn't getting the respect he deserves.

    He improved in so many different areas during his sophomore season, establishing himself as a strong offensive option for the Los Angeles Lakers. Were he surrounded by better players capable of capitalizing upon his creative feeds and drawing away defensive attention, his scoring numbers would likely look even more impressive.

    But if he's truly going to win over fans of the Purple and Gold, he'll have to grow even more efficient. For all the skills he displays and his growing comfort as a three-point sniper—he shot 35.6 percent from downtown on 7.1 attempts per game after the All-Star break—he can often ruin his own performances by failing to finish plays around the hoop.

    Russell might not be as vertically adept as some of the NBA's most dynamic guards, but his 6'5" frame and slithery play should allow him to get off clean looks in the restricted area. His touch just isn't there quite yet, which led him to shoot only 55.9 percent from within three feet—2.7 percent worse than during his rookie season.

    No one is asking him to be Stephen Curry, who overcame his 6'3" frame to shoot 64.2 percent from the same area. But a bit more proficiency around the bucket would go a long way, especially if defenders were forced to grant his drives more respect and free him up for weaker contests on his jumpers.

Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves: Defensive Understanding

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 21

    Per-Game Stats: 25.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 26.0 PER, 2.13 RPM, 304.55 TPA


    Karl-Anthony Towns is already tantalizingly close to becoming one of the NBA's unquestioned superstars. After he completed his sophomore campaign for the Minnesota Timberwolves, I already had him ranked behind only 19 players throughout the Association.

    But his journey won't be complete until he figures out defense. No matter which metrics you look at, he's falling well shy of where a young man with his talent should be.

    In's DRPM, Towns literally finished dead last among the 70 listed centers. The 'Wolves even gave up an additional 7.2 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court, allowing a 110.8 defensive rating that would've trailed everyone in the full-season standings. For perspective, the Los Angeles Lakers' 110.6 defensive rating was the league's worst mark.

    At first, this seems confounding. Towns often looks like a quality defender, showing discipline against post-up players and the quickness necessary to stick with smaller opponents.

    But his understanding of Minnesota's defensive schemes is problematic. He's routinely out of position and late to rotate, which makes for far too many uncontested opportunities. He can inopportunely sag off some players and guard others too tightly, and he regularly finds himself straying from his assignment and allowing an open jumper.

    It all boils down to a lack of knowledge about help defense. And if he spends countless hours watching tape, thereby teaching himself when to stay home and when to slide over to assist a teammate, there'll be no denying his status as one of the game's greatest centers in 2017-18.

Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers: Passing

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 21

    Per-Game Stats: 14.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 18.5 PER, 2.64 RPM, 111.69 TPA


    Myles Turner already fills his defensive role nicely for the Indiana Pacers, and his scoring game is beginning to come around. Though he's hitting only 34.8 percent of his triples, his mid-range prowess and ability to finish around the hoop still make him an efficient source of points for Indiana.

    He'll need to continue honing that perimeter stroke, and it wouldn't hurt him to get even more confident on the defensive end. But the first priority must be his passing since it's far too easy for defenses to collapse around him when he receives a feed in the post.'s Mark Montieth disagrees:

    "Turner's primary assignment over the summer should be to develop post-up skills. It's great that he can take opposing big men away from the basket and hit the occasional 3-pointer and open up passing lanes, but it's not so great that he can't score over smaller defenders around the basket. The basketball often appeared to be a foreign object in his hands when he caught it in the low post, and he usually wound up tossing up an awkward shot or passing it back out to the perimeter as if it was burning his hands."

    That is indeed an important part of Turner's growth, and he should spend time working on his back-to-the-basket moves. He scored just 0.89 points per possession in post-up situations as a sophomore, which left him in the 54.2 percentile.

    But for now, that's a secondary concern.

    It'll be easier for him to grow on the blocks once he's capable of beating double-teams with on-target feeds to the perimeter. Averaging more assists than turnovers is imperative, or else he'll continue to see schemes compress around him, which will make it impossible to show off any strides as a post scorer.

Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Off-Ball Defense

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Age at Start of 2017-18: 22

    Per-Game Stats: 23.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.5 PER, minus-1.61 RPM, minus-162.2 TPA


    If Andrew Wiggins is locking someone up in a one-on-one situation, he can perform more than adequately. But opponents tortured him in off-ball settings to the point that he was one of the league's least valuable defenders and a primary culprit behind the Minnesota Timberwolves' overall point-preventing struggles.

    The blame pie has plenty of slices here.

    Playing for three different coaches in three years can hamper a player's development. Current head coach Tom Thibodeau has notoriously complicated defensive schemes, which may be one reason he was so hesitant to allot major minutes to youngsters during his Chicago Bulls tenure. Effort is a factor as well since Wiggins could often be caught watching the ball and preserving himself for the next offensive opportunity.

    But this has to change soon, or else the predraft expectations for the former Kansas standout will prove more than a bit erroneous. Until he fully commits to both understanding and executing the defensive schemes, displaying clearly that he understands basketball is a two-way game, he'll be wasting his athleticism and overall potential.

    Wiggins can still be one of the NBA's true studs. But he's a long way from earning such status, and developing discipline in off-ball settings is far more important than continuing to improve his three-point stroke, shot selection and ability to contribute positively when he's not earning buckets.


    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball Reference,, or NBA Math and accurate heading into games on Tuesday, May 23.