Andrew Wiggins Is Becoming a Scoring Machine
Wiggins won Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 and cracked 20 points per game (20.7) in his sophomore campaign in 2015-16, but the Toronto, Ontario native seemed to have the MJ/LeBron bar lowered ever so slightly coming into his third NBA season.
Regardless, Wiggins may have scored over 20 points per game last year, but he shot 45.9% from the field, only hit 30.0% of his three-pointers, and didn't add a whole lot in terms of peripheral stats (3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal per contest). His mildly inefficient scoring and scoring-centric, one-trick game has caused people to move on from him as his up-and-coming generation's alpha star.
Well, perhaps we have to think this through again.
Through 11 games this season, Wiggins is averaging 27.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. The peripheral stats are still a bit too low to declare him a next-level superstar just yet, but Wiggins has increased his scoring average by a whopping 6.7 points per contest in the early goings of 2016-17, and the way he's done it is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
First of all, he's leading the NBA in three-point field goal percentage at 53.5%. That's not from that small of a sample size either, as he's hit 23 of his 43 total attempts (hitting 2.1 of his 3.9 heaves per game, as compared to 0.7 of his 2.3 last year).
He's having success both pulling up on his own and shooting off the catch, too. He's shooting 42.1% on pull-up threes (0.9 of 1.9 such attempts per contest) and a killer 52.9% on triples of the catch-and-shoot variety (0.9 of 1.7).
Combine that sterling three-point mark with his 49.3% shooting from the field and you get an effective field goal percentage of 54.7% and a very green shot chart.
Wiggins is basically a good bet to score any time he touches the ball, regardless of where he's standing on the floor. That's evidenced by his league-leading points per touch mark of 0.510 (up from a still-impressive 0.449 last year).
Will he see this early-season efficiency regress? Almost certainly, considering a 5.9% increase on mid-range accuracy and 23.5% (!) jump from long range are not exactly what you would call sustainable trends. His 53.5% three-point percentage is a mere 0.1% from Kyle Korver's all-time record for a single season of 53.6% (2009-10), so it's not like he's going to threaten that achievement just one season removed from shooting a mediocre 30.0% from deep.
That said, it's clear that Wiggins worked hard on his game this summer (particularly his range) and that should mean a much better Wiggins going forward.
Wiggins on his work this summer paying off: "I'm going to go even harder this offseason because I've seen the results this season."
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) November 18, 2016
And if some semblance of this early-season surge continues, Wiggins should at least be in the conversation for his first All-Star selection this year (although the field in the Western Conference is mighty competitive). If nothing else, he has reminded NBA fans why we were all so enamored with him in the first place.
He may never be like Mike or dethrone the King, but that should probably have never been the goal in the first place. He is shaping up to be a fantastic, high-level scorer in the mold of a Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony and is still only 21 years old with plenty of room to grow.
For now, he's the best Andrew Wiggins that we've seen yet, and that's exciting enough without the legendary comparisons.