Starter: Andrew Wiggins
Depth: Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Anthony Tolliver
One of the stranger aspects in the Jimmy Butler trade demand narrative is Andrew Wiggins’ brother Nick seemingly celebrating via Twitter the departure of Butler from Minnesota. And stranger still is how that tweet set off a series of events that ended with Wiggins taking shots via Instagram at possibly Jimmy Butler and definitely Stephen Jackson. These episodes within the greater narrative are largely non stories. Perhaps Wiggins and Butler simply don’t see eye to eye. Perhaps the younger Wiggins begrudges Butler for eroding his statistical output. In the one season the two have played together, Wiggins’ scoring average dipped roughly six points. Maybe Butler wishes Wiggins were older and better at basketball. Maybe Butler also thinks he’s better at basketball than he is.
And all of this is entertaining. Food for fodder and ammunition for memes. You can rant about it on YouTube. Make jokes. Hallelujah! But what then? The games will start soon, and either the two players will have to coexist or Wiggins will actually have to prove himself in a world without Butler. The pun is almost too easy here, but the help will soon be gone.
By year’s end, Wiggins will be a half decade into his NBA career. He still may not have made a single All-Star game. He still may have only one playoff appearance and that appearance will be credited largely to the presence of Butler. None of this is to suggest Wiggins can’t cut or won’t cut it as a franchise player, but Minnesota needs him to materialize. He is, after all, the reason to invest or divest in the Minnesota Timberwolves. And at some point in the near future that will be about him and not his supporting cast.