Monday night in Manhattan, Kansas the Jayhawks fell to the Kansas State Wildcats in overtime, 85-82. This loss is the second in their past four games for Bill Self’s sqaud, but in no way do these losses fall on freshmen star Andrew Wiggins.
Last week, I called for the freshmen to have a more cerebral game that didn’t involve him imposing pre-meditated shots, but rather, to take what the defense gave him. Well in his past two games he has had 16 and 19 points respectively. The freshman is a combined 10-26 from the field in his past two games and 0-7 from three. You would think with shooting stats like that Wiggins would be averaging about 10 points but in fact he is averaging 17.5 in his last two contests thanks to free throws. Wiggins was aggressive for the second straight game last night, going 8-15 from the free throw line and going 7-10 from the stripe two days prior.
Upon being asked about his offensive game Saturday Wiggins opened up, “I tried to be aggressive, get into the lane, tried to get contact and get to the foul line, and get my teammates involved.”
I know it has just been a csmall sample size and although Kansas lost Monday, you have to appreciate Wiggins putting up respectable stats on nights when his jump shot simply isn’t there. More to that, Wiggins’s stats were good but if you just looked at the just the box score, you would miss some important distinctions from his performances.
Wiggins got off to his fourth straight slow start and was actually held without a first half field goal for the second time this season. Instead of another disappointing game Wiggins actually managed to score his season average of 16 points, doing most of his damage in the second half. The catalyst for this good performance was free throws, which was a byproduct of #22 attacking the rim for 7 second half shots in the paint. In a game where 60 total free throws were sattempted, Wiggins was responsible for 25 percent of all shots taken from the stripe.
All this being said, free throws are great and do showcase an aggressive game but Wiggins is beginning to enter a pretty noticeable shooting slump. In the past four games the freshman has shot a combined 16-51 which is appalling for someone of Wiggin’s stature. I believe that in the big picture this is just a blip in the radar for the projected lottery pick. Expect Wiggins to break out of that slump soon and in a big way. Once he gets out of this slump it should be timed just right for conference and NCAA tournament play. This should be a frightening possibility that other teams will have to inevitably confront at some point during the end of this season.
Last article I called for creativity, now, I am calling for consistency. Wiggins showed he has the capability of analyzing a game and taking it by the throat but by no means am I predicting he will do this every game, or even the majority of games. Although it has been a good sign that Wiggins has been analytical, it will not continue if Kansas continues to play below potential as a whole.
Head coach Bill Self has the power to make that team implement any shots he wants and that could be good or bad news for the future lottery pick. In the near future it is vital that Wiggins shows NBA scouts that he is a brain and not just talent. In an NBA season you have to be able to keep focus and effort for 82 games, not just one out of every three. If Wiggins can become more mentally tough in his approach to his performances it will go a long way in determining how good of an NBA player he could be.
The Jayhawks will not be short of tests coming in the future. Kansas will play TCU on the 15th and a Texas Tech team that is well coached on the 18th. Check in on the next “Wiggins Watch” to see how this young star is developing.
Alex Gorge is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @apg3000.
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