The NBA today dubbed Andrew Wiggins the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year--the first member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as the first Canadian-born player, to win the award. Wiggins matured quite a bit in just one season, but is still the shy soul who was reluctant to answer questions or even show a smile when speaking to the media at press conference held inside Target Center earlier this afternoon.
Today Wiggins said thank you to his family, coaches and teammates, while saying all the right things in response to any and all questions that were sent his way.
Special shoutout to Flip, Milt and Glen for obviously gettin' me here to Minnesota. It's been (it was) a rough summer. You know, I got traded and everything like that (but) they made it easy on me; Minnesota made it really easy.
There's a lot of people who really helped me get here today, so I want to thank everybody. Thank you guys.
Wiggins appeared much more comfortable than he did during an interview with SportsCenter last summer--the one where he explained to an imbecilic Bram Weinstein that he would play for whichever team wanted him, regardless of who it was. This awkward dialogue took place after LeBron James announced he was returning home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron had projected his excitement to play with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and even Dion Waiters, but the two-time NBA champion made no mention of Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick out of Kansas University.
"You know who had a really crazy summer? Andrew Wiggins," wrote Kevin Love, after the trade between Minnesota and Cleveland had been finalized. Love claimed he and Wiggins spent last summer in 'NBA Purgatory.'
Although he landed on a franchise that has long dwelled amid the NBA's doldrums, Wiggins unquestionably ended up in a better situation than what could have been with Cleveland.
"To maximize (his) potential he needed that trade back in August," said teammate and veteran Kevin Martin back in April.
Minnesota finished the season in possession of the league's worst record. An abysmal year, by all accounts, but that didn't stop Wiggins from making the most of his opportunities. He led all qualified rookies in scoring with 16.9 PPG, and was 4th in steals (1.05 SPG) and 5th in rebounding (4.6 RPG). Wiggins was the only rookie, and one of just 11 players, to start all 82 games this season.
Wiggins did not perform well this season according to ESPN's Real Plus/Minus though. His overall RPM of -1.78 finished 282 of the 474 qualifying players (45th among small forwards); but, it's worth noting no first-year player of this millennium has had a major positive impact on his team when judged by this metric--not even LeBron.
Minnesota managed to trade disgruntled star and in return received an elite talent, a player that is seemingly capable of someday bringing the franchise back to the postseason--somewhere the Wolves haven't been in over a decade. There are obviously other pieces that must fall into place as Wiggins shouldn't be expected to carry the load on his own.
After all, the most renowned player in franchise history, Kevin Garnett, was only able to bring the team so far during his first go around in Minnesota.
But for a rookie playing on the worst team in the NBA, Wiggins did just about everything anyone could have asked from him. He certainly exceeded expectations I set for him prior to the season in a post published on this website.
"He's had his best games against the best players in this league." said Wolves GM Milt Newton"When we made the trade last summer, we talked about him being the cornerstone of the organization. And I think, based on his play this year, and the reception of this award, it gives us a taste of somethin' that will come to fruition."
Selflessly, Wiggins says the award should 'bring a lot of hope for the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves.'
This is the uprising. We've got a lot of young talent. We accomplished a lot this year, all the young players, so moving forward the future is promising.