Despite enjoying a statistically solid career in his first five seasons in the league, Andrew Wiggins has received a lot of criticism for failing to live up to his billing as the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Minnesota Timberwolves wingman has made the playoffs just once in his career thus far, with many pointing out that he has seemingly regressed in recent seasons as a secondary or tertiary offensive option behind superstar center Karl-Anthony Towns. However, in a recent interview, Wiggins appeared to place the blame of his perceived failures on former Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau.
On Tuesday, Derek James of Canis Hoopus took to Twitter to quote Wiggins, who recently spoke with Phil Mackey of the Mackey & Judd with Ramie podcast. While James did not mention any specific coach, he shared a GIF of Thibodeau along with a few comments from Wiggins that expressed how he feels about his former mentor. As the Minnesota forward/guard put it, he saw himself as a rising star in the NBA during his first three seasons before “some changes were made.”
Citing the same interview with Mackey, ClutchPoints wrote that Wiggins also accused Thibodeau of relying too much on “yelling and screaming” during his time as Minnesota’s head coach.
As opined by ClutchPoints, Wiggins’ complaints about Thibodeau aren’t surprising, as he is just one of several Timberwolves players who were very critical about the veteran coach following his two-and-a-half-season stint with the team. However, the publication suggested that the Canadian wingman’s comments also hint at a “lack of accountability,” as it would be too much to blame a two-year regression solely on how one coach allegedly failed to maximize his talents.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 2, 2019
“Wiggins has failed to become a more efficient rebounder, playmaker, or even tap into his athletic abilities to become a better defender,” ClutchPoints wrote, adding that the 24-year-old former top draft pick struggled from the free-throw line in recent seasons after shooting decently from the stripe from 2014 to 2017.
According to his Basketball-Reference player page, Wiggins has career averages of 19.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game since joining the NBA in 2014. His best season came in 2015-16, where he averaged 23.6 points, though he has notably failed to hit the 20-point-per-game mark in his two most recent campaigns with Minnesota.
Although Wiggins will likely have several opportunities to show his worth during Ryan Saunders’ first full season as Timberwolves head coach, his massive contract — combined with his perceived inability to play up to his full potential — has made him the subject of several trade rumors. One recent hypothetical deal suggested that his hometown team, the Toronto Raptors, could acquire Wiggins, backup forward Jake Layman, and a future first-round pick and send five-time All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry to the Timberwolves in return.