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Andrew Wiggins' rise is just beginning

The Timberwolves rookie is slowly showing why he was such a highly touted prospect.

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Andrew Wiggins sometimes looks like a savvy 39-year-old veteran and other times like a 29-year-old athlete at the peak of his life and athletic abilities. He also looks like the 19-year-old that he is, but that's happening less and less often.

The Timberwolves only have one win since November, but Wiggins has shined anyway. The No. 1 overall pick is a favorite to win the Rookie of the Year race and his 27-point performance in Thursday's loss to the Kings shows why.

Throughout the contest, Wiggins showed all the different phases of his game. He worked out of the post, drove from the corner and hit jumpers inside and outside the 3-point line. He moved off the ball, diving into the lane the split second his defender relaxed to hammer a one-handed dunk. He banged inside underneath the basket for an offensive rebound and putback layup. His two second-quarter dunks were pretty, but his smooth play around the basket stood out even more.

On a play like this, Wiggins is using all of his athletic gifts -- an initial burst of acceleration, speed to whirl by before the help defender can react and a burst off two feet to finish near the basket. Each separate segment of the play is impressive, but the way he puts it all together in a package that hardly even looks difficult is miraculous.


(Via FOX Sports North)

It's remarkable how proficient Wiggins has already become as a post-up player. It's not just a move or two. Wiggins has developed a full arsenal of options and counter options. You can watch him comfortably alternate from a jump hook to a turnaround to a pivot around his defender for an easy layup. If that doesn't work, he'll turn, face his man up and blow by him. Longtime NBA players who have worked out of the post their whole careers don't look as smooth as Wiggins does, even though he has played a total of 31 NBA games.

Wiggins is learning. He still has rookie moments if you look beyond his highlights, stuff like driving into the lane without a plan and turning the ball over. He'll need to improve his shooting percentages -- 41 percent from the floor and 69 percent from the free throw line -- as he continues to grow as a player and needs to be a more consistent rebounder considering his size and athleticism in that area. His defense, like every young player, is hit and miss.

He'll be taught smaller things, too. In one moment on Thursday, he watched his three-point attempt instead of getting back on defense and allowed an easy layup when Sacramento rebounded quickly and Wiggins' man beat him down the floor. His game might not be polished, but little moments of development will only come in time for the budding star.

For now, Wiggins is in a perfect situation. He should be thankful he's not caught up in the media whirlwind of Cleveland and LeBron James, and instead has time to hone his game in the quiet winter of Minnesota. He's scored more than 20 points in four of his last five games -- his best scoring stretch thus far -- and his December numbers were better than November in almost every category. If this first game of January is any indication, he's prepared to improve on all of them again.

Even though he plays for one of the worst teams in the league, take a minute to watch Wiggins grow up this season.


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