Coming into this season, everyone knew that Andrew Wiggins was facing absurd expectations for his freshman year at Kansas. The title of the next LeBron James has been placed on him since high school, and that created unrealistic expectations. Wiggins has faced a lot of unfair criticism for not living up to those expectations, in spite of the fact that he is having a very good season.
Wiggins is averaging 16.5 PPG and 6.1 RPG while shooting a 46/37/78 line. He has scored in single digits just three times and had less than five rebounds just six times in Kansas’ 20 games. It is fair to criticize his low assist numbers (1.5 per game) and he definitely needs some work on his defensive intensity. However, for an 18 year old kid, he’s doing just fine.
That being said, it looks like Wiggins could be on the verge of blossoming into the dominant force everyone expected to be. He recorded a career high 27 points against TCU while adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and then he did one better with a 29 point, 7 rebound performance in last night’s win over Iowa State. Kansas has beaten five ranked teams during their current seven game win streak, and Wiggins has been the driving force for the Jayhawks’ success in most of those games.
What Wiggins has done that he does not get enough credit for is fit into an extremely talented team that includes Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid. Wiggins has played within Bill Self’s system, which is why he is not posting absurd numbers like Kevin Durant did at Texas. However, his performances in the last two games show that, when necessary, Wiggins is capable of taking over a game and scoring 25+ points. Wiggins plays his best in big games, averaging 18.8 PPG and 8.0 RPG against ranked teams (and those numbers would be much higher if you take out his no-show against Oklahoma State, by far the worst game of his career).
Kansas still has four games left against ranked teams, as well as two more against teams that were previously ranked. The Jayhawks are the only team in the Big 12 undefeated in conference play, and they want to run away with the conference title. They have also risen back to No. 6 in the polls and re-established themselves as a national title contender. All that means that Wiggins will have plenty of big games to display his skills in, and he remains the best and most important player Kansas has. Wiggins may not be having the greatest season of all time like so many expected, but he is still an excellent player who is rapidly becoming dominant, and most importantly, he has his team winning.