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Andrew Wiggins Update: Ah, Hm, Well, The Thing Is

Photo: Carlos Osorio (AP Photo)

First, the good news! Fifth-year forward Andrew Wiggins, the former first overall pick in the draft, has more points (1,038 so far) than shot attempts (966) on the season. That was not the case the last time we visited our pal Andrew, back at the end of November, when he was on track to join the small and extremely dubious club of NBA players in all of history who have ever averaged fewer than 15 points on more than 15 shot attempts per game over a season. So that’s progress.

Now for the insanely bad.


This is ... maybe the most damning shot chart I’ve ever seen! It makes my heart hurt. It fills me with icy dread. This shot chart contains almost no hope. On the other hand, the pattern of (incredibly discouraging) cool blue hues is very easy on the eyes.

Wait, here are some more ways to visualize the horror, from the NBA’s stats site:


Basically, what these charts demonstrate is that Andrew Wiggins is not just a bad but an abysmal scorer from pretty much everywhere on the floor except the left corner (on the right side of Kirk Goldsberry’s graphic, which shows a flipped view of the court). If you’re feeling generous you can extend this to include deep two-point range along either side of the baseline, places where it’s bad to take shots unless you’re world-historically good at making them. Andrew Wiggins is not.


Here is the grimmest visualization, which manages to be, all at once, unfairly nonspecific—erasing the distinction between different mid-range zones so that you can’t see that Wiggins is in fact not quite as awful from some of them as from others—and, in a deeper sense, the truest possible encapsulation of his scoring ability:


Andrew Wiggins is at least 10 percentage points worse than league average from basically everywhere. He is, broadly speaking, 10 percentage points worse at scoring than the rest of the NBA.

All the Andrew Wiggins facts are grisly and stomach churning. Here’s one plucked at random. According to Basketball Reference, so far this season Wiggins has attempted 173 long two-pointers, here defined as two-point shots from at least 16 feet out, averaging out to just a hair fewer than three of these attempts per game. Of the 79 players in the NBA who have attempted at least 70 shots from that range on the season, Wiggins ranks 77th in shooting percentage, at 30.1 percent. The 78th- and 79th-ranked players on that list, Trae Young and Kevin Knox, are rookies. (Oh well, at least he’s also 90th in the NBA in dunks, and 283rd in assist percentage.)


Let’s put all this badness in a historical context, so that you can see that this blog serves some purpose beyond just being mean to a random shitty NBA player. Here come some more numbers!

The Timberwolves have 17 games remaining on their schedule. Assuming Wiggins stays healthy and appears in all 17 (a likely but not sure thing; he’s missed six games so far), he is on pace to finish with around 1,244 total shot attempts and 358 three-point attempts on the season. In the NBA’s three-point era—so, going all the way back to the 1979-80 season—there have been 188 instances of individual players recording at least 1,200 total shot attempts and 350 three-point tries over the course of a single season. Wiggins’s .483 True Shooting Percentage, if it holds up, will rank worse than 184 of those.


The holistic figures are even worse, as befits a player who takes a lot of shots, makes a historically low percentage of them, and contributes almost nothing else of note.

  • Wiggins’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 11.9; if it holds up, that will be nearly a full point worse than the next-worst PER (12.7, Klay Thompson in 2012-13) by any of the 188 players on the aforementioned list.
  • Wiggins’s -0.6 VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) will be the worst on that list by a healthy margin; before now, Devin Booker in 2016-17 (-0.2) was the only player ever to have recorded a negative number for VORP in a season in which he attempted at least 1,200 shots and 350 threes.
  • Wiggins’s .012 Win Shares per 48 minutes is less than half that of the next-worst player (Isaiah Rider, 1994-95!) out of those 188.

What I am saying here is that Andrew Wiggins is not just having a bad season, and he is not just an inefficient scorer. Andrew Wiggins is having one of the worst all-around seasons by any high-usage player in the modern history of the NBA. That’s not great.

Anyway, just like last time, here are some photographs of Andrew Wiggins that, statistically speaking, probably depict him failing to score a basket:

Photo: Nick Wass (AP Photo)
Photo: John Amis (AP Photo)
Photo: Jim Mone (AP Photo)
Photo: Aaron Gash (AP Photo)
Photo: Scott Threlkeld (AP Photo)

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