Dear Mr. Andrew Wiggins,
Let me start by admitting that I have not watched a whole lot of your film. High school, college or summer league. As such, I won’t be making any conjectures as to what your seemingly unlimited potential will or will not become. I’ve also been waiting for my one shining moment to write an ‘open letter’, so thank you.
I do want to address the very real possibility that your professional career will begin in Minnesota. Outside of the land that gave us Prince and one thousand lakes, people are ignoring the other side of the coin in this saga. Everyone wants to talk about the LeBron James-Kevin Love-Kyrie Irving holy trinity. Is Cleveland’s trade package enough to get a deal done? Are they giving up too much? Will the new trio jell together like the Big Three did in Miami? Will there even be enough time for it to play out with LeBron’s and Love’s opt-outs looming next summer?
Literally none of that concerns you. And sadly, your putting pen to paper on that contract changes nothing.
As your coach (for now) David Blatt publicly stated, having your name thrown around in trade talks is something all professional athletes have to deal with in their careers. For you, it just had to come as part of your welcome packet.
This was the last month of your life in bullet points (not that you need reminding):
- June 28: You were drafted as the No. 1 pick to a middling Eastern Conference team after months of speculation that you could go as low as third
- July 11: With LeBron coming to town, all of a sudden you get to study under the best basketball player in the world and your team instantly becomes a title contender
- July 18: It becomes eminently clear that you’ll probably be living in Minneapolis the next few years when your bosses publicly agree to build a trade package for Love around you
- July 24: You sign your first NBA contract with Cleveland, which only delays the inevitable by 30 days
You have every right to be upset. As Tupac Amaru Shakur advised, keep ya head up. Things are going to get brighter, even if the Twin Cities only get 100 sunny days a year. I’m sorry to say you’ll be joining a locker room where Ricky Rubio will be standing on top of a chair with his surgically repaired ACL, shouting about getting max money until his adorably-accented voice gives out. That has a lot to do with a promise made by the guy who used to make the (really poor) decisions at the Target Center. Another saga that you’ll inherit through no fault of your own.
That’s only the beginning. Your future employers couldn’t find anyone to coach you and your future teammates, so Flip is dusting off his play book. The last time your new team made the playoffs, you were probably playing with the Canadian version of LEGOs. You’ll be leaning on Nikola Pekovic, Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin to show you the ropes. And you get to develop in the mighty Western Conference, where every night is a dog fight and just about every game on the absurdly long 82-game schedule carries extra weight.
You, Mr. Wiggins, who have yet to play a single minute with the big boys, immediately become the most talked-about commodity in the city.
Everything up to that point makes the situation look hopelessly bleak. But the latter gets overlooked. You may be only part of a trade package for Mr. Love right now, but what gets forgotten in all this mess is that you are basically assuming his career trajectory. (This would be the time for me to insert a cool pop culture reference to a movie wherein one character assumes the identity of another character.)
I can’t pretend that developing under LeBron for a few years would have been anything less than an ideal situation from a basketball standpoint. Nor can I recall a No. 1 overall pick walking into a better, more de-pressurized situation. With Kyrie and King James running the show, you wouldn’t have had the same expectations to produce immediately that fellow draftee Jabari Parker will surely feel in Milwaukee. You would have been guaranteed to be in the playoffs every year.
In Minnesota, you have the opportunity to make the Timberwolves the Minnesota Wiggins. As a young adult on the verge of reaching legal drinking age in the U.S., Minneapolis might have zero draw to you from a lifestyle aspect. Although, according to BuzzFeed there are at least 38 wonderful things about the great state of Minnesota to get stoked for (#6: Zubaz). But this is a franchise and fan base that tend to do right by their cornerstone players. Ask Kevin Garnett.
Love may not get a whole lot of his namesake from Minnesotans after this trade, but he’ll be riding that disdain all the way to the bank for years after he signs a max contract wherever he wants.
You, like Love, may not be the most natural center of attention. He’s proven all that matters is what happens on the court. He may have never made the playoffs in six years–and gets unjustly slammed for it–but his 25-and-10 game has teams salivating to get his signature.
Take care of business and I promise that by the time you sign the next contract sometime around 2018, you’ll be able to buy a memory-wiping machine to forget Minnesota ever happened.