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Rookie Report: Wiggins Shines In First Game

Dane MizutaniWeb Editorial AssociateEmail / Twitter

It was an inconsequential shot in the grand scheme of things. 

Minnesota trailed 63-53 in the third quarter against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night when Andrew Wiggins nailed a 15-footer from the left side of the bucket. That shot, while insignificant as far as the game was concerned, was also very significant for the Wolves faithful.

It wasn’t just a routine 15-footer that Wiggins hit. He caught an entry pass from JJ Barea, palmed the ball away from his body, took two hard dribbles, spun off George Hill, rose up, and nailed the shot.

Wiggins resembled a young Kobe Bryant on that play. Is he the next Kobe Bryant?! No. It’s way to early to tell and Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history. It’d be ludicrous to compare the two players right now. That said the comparisons are undeniable when looking at just that shot.

Ridiculous.

Wiggins is already capable of things that most rookies couldn’t imagine. That much was evident in 32 minutes of his first preseason game as an NBA player. He’s already a world-class defender (just ask Solomon Hill) and showed he can definitely hold his own in the offensive end of the floor. Those skills, compounded with his absurd athleticism, and there’s a chance the Wolves win the Kevin Love breakup in the long run.

“He’s more than just an athlete,” Saunders said. “He’s pretty skilled. He can hit a shot when he wants and make a couple threes, he went to the basket, got to the free-throw line a lot, so the more he plays, the more he plays with veteran guys.”

Wiggins finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks in the loss to the Pacers. He was also 8-for-10 from the charity stripe — a good sign moving forward if he’s able to continue to get to the free-throw line in the future.

“I think the first game was good,” Wiggins said. “It was kind of good to get my feet wet with my first NBA game. I felt comfortable out there, let the game come to me. I played within myself and I thought I did pretty good.”

While he certainly didn’t disappoint in his first taste of NBA action, fellow rookies Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III left a bit to be desired.

That, however, is to be expected, especially for rookies, so early in the preseason.

LaVine admitted that he was a little jittery heading into the contest against the Pacers and those jitters reared its ugly head throughout the game. He was just 2-for-9 from the floor and just took some questionable shots to say the least. LaVine finished with 5 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, and an alarming 5 turnovers in 25 minutes of action.

Those kinks should be worked out over the course of the preseason and there’s a good chance that LaVine sees limited action through the first few weeks of the season. He’s undoubtedly one of the best athletes on the team, though he might benefit from sitting back and watching guys like Ricky Rubio and Mo Williams go to work.

Robinson III actually looked more comfortable than LaVine in his 12 minutes on the floor against Indiana. He finished with 6 points and was an efficient 3-for-4 from the floor. He also flashed his passing skills early in the fourth quarter with a nice lob pass to LaVine for a thunderous alley-oop.

“We’re still learning things, learning things from the vets, taking in as much as we can in practice,” Robinson III said. “I only see us getting better. I thought we played well and we need to come out with the same intensity every game.”

Wiggins, LaVine, and Robinson III, as well as the rest of the squad, will take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at Target Center. That will offer another chance to continue to grow before the season starts at the end of the month.

Though the other two rookies should garner a good amount of playing time, Wiggins will again be in the spotlight as this will be the first time he plays in front of a Twin Cities crowd.

“He’s a great player and the most important thing is he wants to learn and he’s willing to learn,” Ricky Rubio said of Wiggins. “He’s going to be great in this league.”

If Tuesday night was any indication, Rubio definitely won't be far off.