Bennett has yet to make any significant impact on the league, and Towns has yet to play a regular season NBA game. Wiggins, however, is quite proven. Let's take a look at the immediate influence Wiggins had for Minnesota last year and what we can expect from him headed into Year 2.
Flip Saunders and Co. took a bit of a risk when they traded Kevin Love to Cleveland and received Wiggins in exchange, being that Wiggins had no professional experience at the time. The trade certainly paid off for Minnesota, though.
During the 2014 season, Wiggins averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. The rookie averaged 36.2 minutes of playing time and shot 43.7 percent from the field.
Wiggins seemed to hold up well with the rigor of the NBA schedule, his scoring jumping to 22.4 points per game over the final 15 games of the season. He easily earned Rookie of the Year honors, claiming 110 of 130 first-place votes.
Following the award, Saunders referred to Wiggins as "the face of our franchise." Now facing his second year, will Wiggins perform even better?
Even after an impressive debut season, Wiggins said he planned to work on several things during the offseason. He said the following back in May:
"I shot the ball well from the three-point line at the beginning of the year, middle of the year, too. And then I just felt my legs get tired or something. I have to work on the consistency of my shoot, ball-handling. Just being a student of the game. Learning more. My [basketball] IQ, getting it higher."
One thing we know for sure: Wiggins spent lots of time working out and training following the 2014-2015 season. Check out this video documenting the process:
It seems that Wiggins has added some bulk coming off his rookie year; there's certainly nothing wrong with that, and it should make a positive difference in his defensive game.
Defensively, Wiggins had a solid rookie season. He averaged a single steal and 2.9 defensive rebounds per game, which isn't too shabby from a small forward. As far as defending shots, Wiggins did well on the perimeter but less so on the inside.
According to Drew Mahowald, Wiggins held his opponents to just 37 percent shooting on attempts from more than 10 feet away from the basket. When players came closer, however, they had a higher success rate against Wiggins than against league-average defenders.
Offensively, if Wiggins maintained his scoring from 2014, the Wolves would be happy. Any increase above that will be an added bonus. Wiggins got thrown into the fire probably earlier than anticipated last year, and Minnesota found itself unable to rely on many scorers other than its rookie. Rather than crumble under pressure, however, Wiggins simply continued to put up points.
Wiggins' overall 43.7 percent got the job done, but there are areas on the floor he can improve from. Following the 2014-2015 season, Wiggins' player efficiency rating (PER) came in at 13.5, compared to the league average 15.
In breaking down his three-point shots taken throughout the season, they drop dramatically after January. October through January, Wiggins shot 36.7 percent (33-of-90) from behind the arc. From February through the end of the regular season, he shot just 16.2 percent (6-of-37) from the three-point line.
Both of these stats may be in part to the endurance factor Wiggins mentioned following the season, and the extra training should help with this as well.
I think Timberwolves fans can expect to see just as much, and probably more, from Wiggins on all areas of the court this season. Not only does he have a year of the league under his belt, but he will be surrounded by a healthier roster. Having Ricky Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad back in the lineup and adding Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones to the mix will certainly help take pressure off Wiggins, especially offensively.
He may be just 20 years old, but Wiggins is well-equipped to lead Minnesota to a more successful season and—hopefully—the postseason.