Critics have noticed that former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins has struggled as a one-on-one scorer in isolation for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota, however, calls an isolation play with 8.7 percent frequency, which ranks Top 5 in the NBA so far this season. It’s a big jump from last season (6.6 percent) for the Timberwolves. Some wonder whether the play calling is all wrong for Wiggins given the players who surround him on the court.
Wiggins is shooting 11-for-50 (22.0 percent) on this play type, which is the worst among those who have taken at least 30 field goal attempts when running isolation plays. His points per possession (0.56) is also the lowest in this group.
Even though Minnesota has often found ways to win games when he is in the midst of a shooting slump, this could be because teammates such as Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns have remained effective on offense.
During each of his first few seasons in the league, Wiggins has shown that shooting from anywhere beyond near the basket can end up an inconsistent struggle.
The 22-year-old has the worst overall true shooting percentage (50.5 percent) among those who play a lot of minutes (at least 31 per game) and have a high usage rate (22 percent) this season.
Wiggins is simply more efficient when he is not trying to play one-on-one offense and instead has the opportunity to run a cutter player, which has been a trend for the previous two seasons as well. This was originally introduced by Andy Bailey.
Butler has also excelled when cutting towards the rim, which should help their offense as the opposition will have to account for two players with such a similar dominance.
As a developing player, Wiggins has scored 1.56 points per possession on this play type. This is tied with Anthony Davis and trails only LeBron James and Kristaps Porzingis for those with as many possessions.
For the third seasons in a row, his points per possession have increased on cutters (1.42 PPP to 1.56 PPP) while they once again have decreased (0.74 PPP to 0.56 PPP) on isolations.
Despite the success he has had near the basket, only 36.1 percent of his shot attempts have come within ten feet of the rim so far this season.
Among high-volume (5.0 or more attempts near the rim per game) shooters who have shot well this season (field goal percentage on this shot type 65.0 percent or better), the only player who is taking advantage of the success less frequently is Indiana’s Victor Oladipo.
The difference, however, is that Oladipo has had far more success on both his mid-range game and his attempts beyond the arc.
Wiggins, meanwhile, could be a player best utilized if he had more concentrated efforts with assists from his team and didn’t try to beat defenders one-on-one.
This can absolutely help him maintain the recent hot streak he has enjoyed for Minnesota.