Timberwolves

Did Tim Connelly Salvage the Andrew Wiggins Trade?

Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

On Dec. 28, 2018, a reporter asked Andrew Wiggins about the boos he received after missing two free throws in the final seconds of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 123-120 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. “That’s fans for you,” Wiggins responded, “We’ve got some s— fans, and we’ve got some good fans. That’s just how it works.”

For many fans, that was a turning point for the former Rookie of the Year and No. 1 draft pick.

The Wiggins criticism began to ramp up, ultimately leading to Minnesota’s blockbuster trade with the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 7, 2020. At the time, the trade looked like a massive win for Golden State. But four years later, public opinion on Wiggins is souring again, this time in the Bay Area. Conversely, the Wolves are looking more like winners in that trade.

To evaluate whether the Wolves can claim they won the trade, we must review the original and ensuing trades to see where both teams stand in 2024.

Original Trade (Feb. 7, 2020)

Utah Trade

  • Wolves send out
    • D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
  • Wolves acquire

Spurs Trade

  • Wolves send out
    • 2026 second-round pick (Utah)
    • 2028 second-round pick (Wolves)
  • Wolves acquire

The present-day implications of the trade are that the Warriors have Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga, while the Wolves have Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Leonard Miller, and two second-round picks.

Let’s compare each team’s haul, starting with the Warriors.

We will use win shares to compare offensive and defensive ratings, net ratings, games played, and team success (W/L). Combined, this data should highlight these players’ impact on their teams and what they currently offer.

Warriors

  • Andrew Wiggins
    • 3.2 average win shares since trade
    • 112.42 offensive rating average
    • 111.75 defensive rating average
    •  +0.67 net rating per year
    • 181/250 games played, 72.4%
    • 145-106, 57.78% win percentage
  • Jonathan Kuminga
    • 3.2 average win shares
    • 112.17 offensive rating average
    • 110.97 defensive rating average
    • +1.2 net rating per year
    • 204/232 games played, 87.9%
    • 133-99, 56.00% win percentage

Wolves

  • Mike Conley
    • 4.75 average win shares since trade
    • 114.65 offensive rating average
    • 110.40 defensive rating average
    • +4.25 net rating per year
    • 88/95 games played, 92.6%
    • 60-35, 63.16% win percentage
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker
    • 1.95 average win shares since trade
    • 111.12 offensive rating average
    • 109.75 defensive rating average
    • +1.37 net rating per year
    • 92/95 games played, 96.84%
    • 60-35, 63.16% win percentage
  • Leonard Miller
    • 0.2 average win shares since trade
    • 89.9 offensive rating average
    • 104.5 defensive rating average
    •  -14.6 net rating per year
    • 9/69 games played, 13.04%
    • 47-22, 68.12% win percentage

The Wolves came out as winners. Conley, Alexander-Walker, and Miller have Wiggins and Kuminga beat in all categories. Team success based on winning percentage also favors the Wolves, and so does the availability in the percentage of games played. Statistically, the Timberwolves are considered winners of the trade in terms of future assets, and we could consider them winners of the trade with Leonard Miller and two second-round picks still available to them.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, one major piece of the Wiggins trade trumps the trade’s statistical and future assets. The Warriors won the 2021-22 championship, and Wiggins arguably was Golden State’s second-best player in that Finals run.

Championships are the ultimate prize. Until the Wolves win one, I can not say they won the trade, despite the overwhelming statistical data suggesting they got the best of Golden State. However, Minnesota is in the hunt for the 1-seed this season and have legitimate championship aspirations.

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