Andrew Wiggins: Offensive Analysis
Despite Andrew Wiggins possessing a highly exploitable defensive package, as elaborated here, he is more than able to compensate with a unique scoring ability and overall versatility on offense.
The 6’8″ tall wing finds ways to score on the court in nearly every play type. In his third season in the NBA, Wiggins finished 16th in the league in scoring at 23.6 points-per-game and the previous season he was 19th in scoring at 20.7 PPG (Youngest player in NBA history to finish Top 20 in scoring). Wiggins put up 16.9 points-per-game his rookie year but his final 56 games he averaged 19.2 points-per-game and scored 20 or more points 27 times.
He attempted 276 more shots while his shooting percentage dropped just .007% over the year. Wiggins put up 99 more threes during 2016–17 and made 5.6% more while only shooting 23 less free throws.
With three games left in the 2016–17 NBA season the Timberwolves were visiting the Los Angeles Lakers. What many Wolves fans remember most from this game is how D’Angelo Russell made a game winning three-pointer while down two with just seconds to play. But what we should remember, however, is how Andrew Wiggins displayed all the tools in his offensive arsenal. Wiggins put home 41 points shooting 13 of 26 with two threes while also shooting 14 free throws. Wiggins has always gotten to the free throw line regularly while playing in the NBA. His rookie year, he ranked sixth with 466 attempts, seventh the next with 565 free shots, and tenth last year with 542 attempts.
With 26 shots, you can imagine the Wolves used Wiggins in many different play types. A usual play type the Wolves put Wiggins in for a lot of the season is displayed here in the first video. Much like how the Pacers utilize Paul George, the Wolves free Wiggins with a down screen and have him catch above the break. After Gorgui Dieng sets the down screen, he sets a ball screen to free Wiggins up for the one dribble pull-up jumper. In the second video Wiggins squares on the catch, swings the ball to his right hip for one dribble and nails the mid-range jumper.
The Lakers really struggled to lock down Wiggins on this spring evening and matching up Larry Nance JR on Wiggins didn’t bring them any success. Nance, although an athletic player, is a post skill-set player and when in space versus a wing as capable as Wiggins, he isn’t going to be able to stay in front. Wiggins recognizes this immediately while sizing up Nance with a quick two dribbles to get himself in space to attack the rim. Wiggins, an average (62%) finisher at the rim, isn’t bothered at all when the help defense is slow to rotate and he lays the ball in the cup effortlessly.
A place of overall improvement from year two to year three for Wiggins was shooting the three. During the 2015–16 season Wiggins was an overall 30% shooter, 5% below league average, and shot 34.6% on spot-ups. The 2016–17 season saw an increase in both areas while he also had an uptick in attempts of 1.1 per game. The overall percentage increased to 35.8% (NBA league average), and he knocked down 40.9% on spot-ups while attempting just over two per game. In these two video examples, Wiggins takes and makes spot-up looks, and in both the defender gives him ample space to set and shoot. Wiggins’ efficiency would greatly improve if he’d increase his number of three-point attempts and reduce some of the statistically “bad” long two’s from his game.
In the next video, Wiggins is a pick-and-roll ball handler where the defenders make the mistake of crowding before Wiggins puts the ball down. In these situations Wiggins generates .823 PPP (Points per possession), which is considered well above average according to Synergy. This allows Wiggins to utilize one of the most devastating offensive moves an NBA player can have in his arsenal — the EURO step. The EURO is a move in which the player picks up his dribble, takes a step in one way, and then quickly takes the second step in another direction. Wiggins’ explosive step and long athletic build gives him a unique advantage over other players that enables him to use the EURO with great success.
Andrew Wiggins generates one PPP when receiving the ball via hand-off (70 percentile) — increasing his efficiency against set defenses. The hand-off has him moving generally towards the basket and usually a big-man will pick off Wiggins’ defender allowing him space to finish at the rim. When cutting, Wiggins is even more effective, 1.41 PPP (81 percentile), which is displayed in the video below. Watch how Wiggins leads Ingram towards the hand-off but quickly cuts backdoor allowing the good passing big-man, Gorgui Dieng, to deliver a bounce pass to Wiggins cutting baseline.
Wiggins is even more incredible on offensive put-backs where he’s at 1.367 PPP (91 percentile). In the second video in this series, you see Wiggins putting together the cut and the offensive put-back in the same possession. Wiggins tricks Corey Brewer into thinking he’s coming off screen to catch in space, but really he’s darting towards the rim for an easy look. Even though Wiggins misses the easy lay-up, his quick second leap allows him to easily rebound his own miss and score.
Wiggins possibly excels the most in transition. When running in the open court, Wiggins has a stride length of eight feet (a foot longer than Kevin Durant), his top speed when running is 20 MPH, has a seven foot wingspan, and over a 40 inch vertical leap. Critics will ask “we know Wiggins is athletic, but how does that translates on the floor?”He scores 61.2% of the time on transition possessions and shoots 63.5% while he has a TS% of 68.2%. Wiggins generates 1.3 PPP (85th percentile) in transition situations which is marked as excellent. In comparing this statistic to other elite players, Kevin Durant is at 1.36, new teammate Jimmy Butler is at 1.44, and Gordon Hayward is at 1.38.
Over his three NBA seasons, Andrew Wiggins has improved offensively every year and there aren’t many signs that won’t continue. Wiggins, like every player, has room for improvement. Eliminating some of the mid-range shots that he lives for (37.5% of overall shots), becoming a better playmaker (2.3 highest number of assist per game) and increasing the number of three pointers he shoots (league average percentage, ranked 86th in made three’s and 79th in attempts) will likely be a focus going forward. One of Wiggins most exciting and reliable features is his emphatic slams on opposing players. Below a few videos to enjoy Wiggins dunking from the 2016–17 NBA season.