Saturday, December 20, 2014

Film breakdown: Dissecting Andrew Wiggins' game

With the Philadelphia 76ers claiming the third pick after Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery, they are positioned to take one of the top talents in this year’s draft class and potentially one of the best players in half a decade.

Film breakdown: Dissecting Andrew Wiggins' game

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins is covered by Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. (Orlin Wagner/AP)
Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins is covered by Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. (Orlin Wagner/AP)

With the Philadelphia 76ers claiming the third pick after Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery, they are positioned to take one of the top talents in this year’s draft class and potentially one of the best players in half a decade.

The assumed top-three picks for most franchises to mull over are Joel Embiid (Kansas), Jabari Parker (Duke) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas). Cleveland is in desperate need of a big man, leaving Parker and Wiggins to fall to either the Milwaukee Bucks or the 76ers.

So, in the first of a series of “Film Room” articles, the Daily News will break down and examine Andrew Wiggins, his strengths, weaknesses and these skills fit with Brett Brown’s fast-paced offense.

Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas, freshman, 197 lbs,

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Strengths

  • Ridiculous athlete
  • Great lateral quickness and has nice length that bothers opposition and gives him an advantage with his jump shot and on the perimeter when defending
  • Has the versatility defensively to guard multiple positions due to length, athleticism and quickness
  • Very strong in transition, 16.2% of his offense came in transition. Helps that he has long strides and is able to glide in the air and get from half court to the rim in three steps
  • Limited dribble move package, but relies heavily on his spin move from the foul line to get to the rim. Deadly spin move.
  • Progressing as a playmaker, has improved his vision and is unselfish when finding players while he penetrates
  • Solid offensive arsenal that can be improved, has good motion on his jumper, is capable from the perimeter and utilizes a step-back move to get open along the perimeter
  • Explosive first step and has the ability to get by most defenders
  • Developing as a scorer all-around and when ISO’d
  • Got to the free throw line at a high rate, 7.9 FTA per 40
  • Cleans up a lot of offensive rebounds, usually seen flying through the air on a tip-slam or tips in his own missed shots

Weaknesses

  • There have been many questions about his desire to play the game, looks complacent at times on-court
  • Was very turnover prone (2.3 TO per 32 mins played), but could be due to the speed he plays at
  • Has a habit to settle for poor jumpers, needs to improve his shot IQ a bit and stop settling for shots that aren’t there
  • Doesn’t have any advanced dribble moves, pretty basic package outside of his spin move, doesn’t always get all the way to the rim
  • Skinny arms, needs to get stronger, though he does have very broad shoulders
  • Very loose with his dribble, not low to his body, often very high and looks uncontrolled at times, struggles when being aggressively defended or double teamed
  • Has issues finishing around the basket and due to lack of strength can get moved off the block when attempting to rebound defensively
  • Didn’t always establish good post position, also needs to develop his post game offensively to add more diversity in his game at the next level, does posses a nice turnaround jumper and baby-hook

Now let’s break down 8 plays that shows where Wiggins excelled:

1) Kansas vs. Georgetown, Wiggins’ Explosiveness

In the fifth possession of the game, Wiggins gets a screen from Perry Ellis and finds himself alone on the weak side of the court where all five defenders have him in plain sight.

Wiggins works his way to a spot about 15 feet from the basket and makes a decision with two-three defenders closing in on him.

This is a play that shows how quick Wiggins is. Using his explosive first step, he freezes the defenders and works his way to the spot, stops on a dime and rises for the shot with #34 reacting late to defend. ‘

Due to his dribble-drive, Naadir Tharpe is allowed to sit at the top of the perimeter. If his defender slides to help, there’s a better shot in a wide-open triple available at the top of the court. No one slides to help defend on Wiggins and he takes advantage of what the defense gives him here:

2) Kansas vs. Towson, Wiggins’ Transitional Game

In this clip, we examine how well Wiggins gets out and runs in the open floor, a trait that would be used well with the Sixers due to their fast pace (101.6) and gaining multiple possessions in gameplay.

For this play, Wiggins gets the ball in transition after a defensive rebound by Kansas and starts running the floor. The problem here is that it’s two on four and the other Kansas guard has already ran his lane to the corner on the fast break, leaving Wiggins to attack the four.

Wiggins uses one dribble move and starts to extend his arms for his gather, he’s already past two defenders by time he gets to the free throw line.

In another step he adjusts his body and glides toward the rim in between two defenders to finish the play. Wiggins collects 16.2% of his offense in transition and with his elite athleticism, it allows him to play above the rim. He makes it look easy.

3) Kansas vs. Kansas State, Wiggins’ Finishing Ability

Early in the game, Wiggins re-adjusts the offense and gets an early screen from Perry Ellis. This is where he starts cutting up the entire team.

Doing something uncharacteristic of his play still, Wiggins splits two defenders using the screen and finds open space in the middle of his floor, where he plays his best game. He begins to slash.

Then he fakes his defender out with a slick spin move (his most used move in his dribble package outside of his basic crossover). He’s lost three of the five Kansas State players on the floor, now he faces the center with an open Joel Embiid to his weak side.

But he doesn’t give up the ball.

Finally in front of the center, he adjusts his body, absorbs the contact and finishes with a flashy lay-up to but the Jayhawks up five. This is Wiggins at his absolute best: slashing to the rim in a straight line.

4) Kansas vs. Iowa State, Wiggins’ length being used on offense

Once again, Wiggins is running in transition, no surprise there. But in this play Wiggins, again, is running without numbers and only has another person to pass to while having three guys in front of him.

But it’s his length that ends up being the biggest factor for him and Iowa State’s worse nightmare.

After seeing whom he’s up against, Wiggins drives towards the strong side of the basket and gets one defender on his hip and prepares to finish. The problem here is that the big man has his hands straight up looking for the foul outside of the circle.

To not foul his defender, Wiggins gets airbourne and uses his length to launch a floater that hits the glass and goes in. Nice use of wingspan here.

5) Kansas vs. Florida, Wiggins’ Defensive Length

Length can be used and abused in many different ways. We’ve already seen what Wiggins can do on the offensive side, now let’s see how he used his wingspan on a nice defensive play.

It starts with freshman guard Kasey Hill on the fast break.

Hill gets Naadir Tharpe one-on-one with him on the strong side of the court and uses a pretty nice Euro Step to get by him and into the lane. But Wiggins had other plans at the end of this play.

Ba-boom. Wiggins took flight as if he was going to dunk and gets two hands on the ball for an emphatic block. Notice where his hands meet the ball, without some extra inches on that wingspan, the average player isn’t getting to that ball on time or even at all. Wiggins however, uses his length on the defensive side of the ball to make a difference.

6) Kansas vs. Georgetown, Wiggins’ playmaking ability

One thing about Wiggins that can make him an All-Star one-day is his ability to create for others, a skill that is rapidly improving as he progresses his game. In this play, Wiggins is trapped on the weak side corner with four players around him.

Because this is immediately doomed to fail on Georgetown’s end, there’s a wide-open Wayne Selden Jr. on the strong side of the court. 

Wiggins cuts toward the center of the court attracting a double team and somehow no one notices that Selden Jr. is still wide open. Give Wiggins credit for working to make this play happen because as easy as it was to execute, it’s as easy as it is too screw up.

7) Kansas vs. West Virginia, Wiggins’ Defensive Ability on the Interior

The one thing Wiggins is continuing to improve on that makes him such a close comparison to Paul George is his ability to defend. He’s a great perimeter defender because of his quick feet and wingspan, which gives him the ability to stay in front of his man and guard multiple positions.

In this play, he’s the lone man on the opposite of a fast break. But he doesn’t panic, he backtracks and makes a good play on the ball.

After backtracking he makes his play on the ball and gets a piece of the rock and almost forces a steal against a quicker player.

Following the attempted steal, the guard picks up the ball and dishes it to a streaking forward and Wiggins slides his feet and gets another defensive play. This time he meets the player at his climax for a block. If that doesn’t scream “great defender” I don’t know what does.

8) Kansas vs. Florida, Wiggins’ Perimeter Defense

As previously stated, Wiggins has all the makings of an elite perimeter defender. Here’s an example where he’s matched up on Florida’s Casey Prather.

 

He’s attached to Prather’s hip with his eyes on the ball while Prater drives towards the center of the court. Kansas does a good job here of having the middle of the lane clogged so that there’s no chance Prather scores even if he slips past Wiggins.

Prather eventually gets stuck and tries to pick up his dribble.

Prather gets crowded by Wiggins who never stops defending and tries to use a half spin to shake Wiggins but still can’t lose him. This is the moment where Prather attempts to put up a shot. Which fails.

Final Analysis: Andrew Wiggins is one of the top three talents in the 2014 NBA Draft Class. He can help a team in multiple areas: slashing to the rim, perimeter defense, and playmaking ability from the wing, and is developing a scorer’s mentality that could turn him into an NBA All-Star.

How he fits with the Sixers: With Brett Brown’s fast paced offense and Wiggins being arguably the best player in this year’s draft when it comes to getting out in transition, this seems like a perfect fit. The Sixers are missing a piece on the wing and need another player with a scoring mentality on the roster next to Michael Carter-Williams.

The more he improves defensively, he becomes another asset to what would be a defensively sound frontcourt for the Sixers barring whether they pick Wiggins and if they keep Thaddeus Young heading into next season. The fictional frontcourt with Wiggins on the team would be: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Thad Young, PF, and Nerlens Noel, C.

Not too shabby.

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About this blog
Bob Cooney has been at the Daily News for more than 20 years, working in the sports department for the past 15. This is his third season on the Sixers beat. He has covered just about everything, but mostly college basketball, where he was the La Salle beat writer for six seasons. E-mail Bob at cooneyb@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter.

Bob Cooney
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