The Timberwolves and fourth-year guard Andrew Wiggins are in the process of negotiating a contract extension, and Wiggins thinks he deserves nothing less than a max deal.
It sounds as if Minnesota is ready to offer Wiggins what he wants, but is he worth the five-year, $145 million contract he's looking for?
The short answer is yes, especially in a market like Minnesota where big-time free agents aren't knocking down the door. This is a deal the Timberwolves have to make if it means they keeping their young core intact. Along with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins is a building block for this franchise, and there's no guarantee star offseason acquisition Jimmy Butler returns once he's able to opt out of his contract two years from now.
In a vacuum, Wiggins has not yet reached the status of a player that would earn more in total money than all but five players if he were to sign today, but he has flashed the potential to become that player. Wiggins scored 40 points in a game five times last season, a season in which he averaged nearly 24 points on 45% shooting. By comparison DeMar DeRozan averaged just 16.7 points on 42% from the field in his third season. Gordon Hayward averaged 14.1 points on 44% shooting, and still hasn't averaged more than a career-high of 21.9 points a game from last season. These numbers aren't meant to paint Wiggins as a better player, but they do serve as an example of his offensive potential juxtaposed to the next highest paid players at similar positions if Wiggins were to get a max.
The advanced numbers tell a slightly different story, especially on defense where Wiggins was one of the worst at his position last season, but at 22 years old and playing for coach Tom Thibodeau, Wiggins will assuredly continue to improve. He shot a career-high 35.6% from three last season and has a stroke that can improve on that number. And maybe more important than all the percentages is the fact that Wiggins has displayed elite durability and availability, missing just one game over his first three seasons. If Wiggins gets a max contract, it won't be a statement that he's better than everyone he makes more money than, it's a statement of how valuable he is to Minnesota.