In the past few games while Jimmy Butler was out with a sore knee, Andrew Wiggins was showing Wolves fans why he was worth the five-year, $146.5 million max deal he signed in the offseason. He had a solid 29 points night against his hometown Raptors and followed it up by dropping a 40 bomb on the Clippers the very next game. With Butler off the floor, Wiggins got more shot attempts. But going forward, can he find a way to coexist with his new All-Star teammate?

 

The Timberwolves played the Raptors for a second time in 10 days, this time with a healthy Jimmy Butler. Wiggins reverted back to passive play with Butler in the lineup. When he had more of the scoring burden on him, he was attacking the rim which made him very difficult to guard. Playing in a “Big 3” is not easy. There is always someone who will be left out in the cold. Just ask Kevin Love, Chris Bosh or Kevin Garnett.

 

Wiggins’ hometown team has a couple of All-Stars themselves who have had to learn how to play with and off each other. I’m of course referring to Lucas Nogueira and Pascal Siakam (just kidding). Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry had bit of a learning curve when they first were paired together. There are many similarities between DeMar DeRozan and Wiggins and also what Wiggs is going through now with his new All-Star teammates. Look at the per game similarities between DeRozan in his fourth season and Wiggins so far this season.

It’s been well documented by statisticians that both DeMar DeRozan and Wiggins love the mid-range game. They go at it with a differing style, however. Wiggins likes to get into his shot off the dribble, and while that is perfectly fine, he consistently shoots the worst (and least efficient) shot in basketball– a pull-up off the dribble, a step inside the arc. DeRozan gets much deeper position and makes a living shooting elbow jumpers and fadeaways from the baseline. DeRozan, along with perhaps Chris Paul, have proven that you can be an effective midrange player in today’s analytics-happy NBA.

DeRozan also operates very well in the pick and roll both as a scorer and facilitator. He uses his dribble so effectively to get to his midrange “spots” and is very dangerous from there shooting almost 45 percent from 10 feet out to the three point line. He has developed greatly this season as a distributor in the pick and roll as well. He consistently draws two defenders and kicks it out to a teammate for an open three. He is averaging a career high 5.2 assists so far this season. Wiggins has done a little bit of that but less so this season with Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague doing most of the distributing. Wiggins can sometimes struggle in the P&R if the defenders trap, and turns it over too often in that situation.

In the course of this season, Andrew has increased his contribution in other areas which he’s been criticized in the past for not doing. As a big guard, he should have an advantage on the boards but his career rebounding totals have been subpar up to this point. This year however, his rebounding numbers, assists, and defensive metrics are all significantly improved.

If you look at DeRozan’s per game stats in his fourth year in the NBA, you will see they are very similar to that of Andrew Wiggins’ numbers. Wiggins has two All-Stars on his team, while DeRozan never did, so there are some differences with roster construction. Nonetheless, the numbers are very similar. If Wiggins can coexist with other top-tier NBA talent as DeRozan did, then it should give hope to Timberwolves fans that Wiggins will consistently live up to the max contract he signed this summer.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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