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NBA PM: Was Trade a Blessing in Disguise for Wiggins?

Getting traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves may have been a blessing in disguise for Andrew Wiggins.

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Was Trade a Blessing in Disguise for Wiggins?

Having to deal with trade rumors and actually being dealt prior to playing his first NBA game had to be frustrating for Andrew Wiggins, but it may have been a blessing in disguise for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Rather than joining a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is in win-now mode and being forced to defer to superstars like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Wiggins will be the face of a young Minnesota Timberwolves franchise that will give him every opportunity to succeed and reach his full potential. He won’t just be a role player in Minnesota, he’ll be a focal point right away and, if all goes as planned, he’ll eventually be their star. Wiggins will get more touches and minutes in Minnesota, which will give him a chance to show what he can do at the NBA level and compete for the Rookie of the Year award. He’ll also have far less attention on him as he develops in Minnesota, versus playing for a Cavaliers team that will be under the microscope.

Wiggins, who has been working out with his new teammates at Minnesota’s practice facility, seems to realize that being traded to the Timberwolves could actually be better for him in the long run.

“I think it’s a great situation whenever I think about it,” Wiggins told reporters, according to KSTP. “It gives me more freedom. I’m surrounded by young guys that have the same intentions and determinations as me – to really win and get better every day.”

Privately, Wiggins has told people in his inner circle the same thing. In fact, Wiggins told his college head coach Bill Self that he was hoping for a trade to Minnesota when the rumors started surfacing.

“When all this trade stuff started, I talked to Andrew and Andrew told me, ‘I hope I get traded,’ Self told The Associated Press last month. “And I’m like, ‘No you don’t.’ And he said, ‘Coach, I do. It’s better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I’m forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they’re going to be patient with me and I’m going to be a piece.’”

Wiggins joins a promising young core that also includes Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng and Glenn Robinson III among others. However, the team also has veterans like Thaddeus Young, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Mo Williams, who can help the young players improve as well as keep the team competitive in the short-term.

Even though he’s surrounded by other young players with a lot of potential, there’s no question that Wiggins will face the highest expectations. The 19-year-old has been characterized as one of the best young players to enter the NBA in years – someone who is supposed to be poised for superstardom. That’s why the Timberwolves were willing to deal one of the best players in the league – Kevin Love – to acquire him, even though he hasn’t stepped foot on an NBA court yet.

While this pressure would faze some players, Wiggins has grown accustomed to it since he has been dealing with this kind of hype since he was a kid. As a 14-year-old, a mixtape of his highlight plays dubbed him one of the best young players in the nation and got millions of views. Then, he became the No. 1 ranked high school player, so all eyes were on him and he became a household name (just like LeBron James did in high school). At Kansas, he faced ridiculously high expectations as well. Wiggins knows that greatness is expected from him, and he’s used to it by now.

“I don’t really feel like it’s too much pressure right now,” Wiggins said. “I’ve been through being the number one player in high school and in college, all that stuff. So, pressure to me has really died down; I don’t feel it as much as I used to.”

While working out with his new teammates, Wiggins and his peers have been going over head coach Flip Saunders’ playbook and learning his system. Veterans like Martin and Brewer have also been working out and helping the young guys become familiar with the offense. Wiggins is excited to start the season, and he believes that he’ll be able to thrive in Saunders’ system.

“I’m liking it,” Wiggins said of Minnesota’s offense. “They kind of broke it down to me before. All the plays are really coming together. This is my first couple days learning the plays on-court, you know? It kind of fits my playing style. I’m just trying to learn it.”

LaVine, who was selected 12 picks after Wiggins by Minnesota, can’t wait to get on the court with his fellow lottery pick. Wiggins and LaVine trained together in California prior to the draft and got to know one another out there. Together, they form an incredibly athletic one-two punch for the Timberwolves, and they could be a great tandem down the road if they’re both able to reach their full potential.

“Me and Andrew have been close since the pre-draft [process],” LaVine said. “We did pre-draft [training] together in Santa Barbara so I’ve known Drew for awhile and it’s good to have him on the team.”

Wiggins had to experience the business side of the NBA earlier than most players and he learned firsthand that anyone can be dealt, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that happening again for quite some time. It’s hard to imagine the Wolves parting ways with Wiggins anytime soon, since they’re hoping he eventually replaces Love as their star player and face of the franchise.

NBA talent evaluators have been watching Wiggins for years and imagining what kind of player he’d be in the league. The Timberwolves can’t wait to find out, and they are ecstatic that he’ll be donning their jersey in his NBA debut. After some early drama, Wiggins seems to be thrilled with his situation as well.

Celtics’ Green Trying to Improve Consistency

Last season, there were times where Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green looked like a star player. For example, take his 39-point game against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 16, in which he was 12-of-23 from the field. However, there were also times where he completely disappeared. Case in point, his 5-point game the following night, March 17, against the Dallas Mavericks in which he was 2-of-12 from the field. This inconsistency from Green drove Celtics fans crazy.

Green followed up far too many impressive games with single-digit outings, which isn’t acceptable from a team’s focal point. The 28-year-old veterans knows this and he has spent this offseason trying to improve his all-around game and, most importantly, his consistency.

“I’ve been working on everything basically,” Green said, according to The Boston Globe. “There’s not one thing I didn’t work on. Just coming into camp in good shape, new focus, and a lot of people say it’s a different vibe they feel from me now and I just have to transfer it on the court, continue to get better as a player, and find a way to stay consistent. I think that’s been my biggest fall throughout my career, so I’ve just got to find a way to do that.”

Even though Green did have issues with consistency last season, he did post a career-high 16.9 points per game. He’s hoping to build on that success in the 2014-15 campaign, and he’s entering the season with confidence and a lot of optimism.

“I think it’s a new confidence that I have as far as my game and I think that just comes with a different approach,” Green said. “I’m very excited. We have a young team but I think we have a team that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. A lot of people don’t have us in the playoffs but our goal is to get better each game and just try to improve to put ourselves in a great position to be in the playoffs.”

As one of the veterans on a young team, Green understands that he needs to step up and lead. He wants to be a stronger presence in the locker room this season.

“I am one of the leaders,” Green said. “I have to take that role. It’s not an individual thing to lead this team. We have Rajon [Rondo] and Gerald [Wallace]. We’ve just got to have each other’s back.”

Last season, Rondo played in just 30 games for the Celtics. Green believes that getting him back will really help the Celtics, since Rondo is one of the best point guards in the NBA when he’s healthy.

“It’s going to be big,” Green said of Rondo’s return, according to CSNNE. “He’s the guy that gets us into sets. He’s the guy as you see throughout his career, finds players and puts them in the best spot to succeed. With him being 100 percent healthy, it’ll make our team that much better.”

Last season, the Celtics won just 25 games. In addition to getting Rondo back at full strength, additions like Marcus Smart, James Young, Evan Turner and Tyler Zeller should help Boston improve. If Green can play at a high level every night, instead of just some nights, that will make the Celtics significantly better as well.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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