The Minnesota Timberwolves had to give up a lot to get Jimmy Butler, but it looks like maybe they should’ve switched the pieces around of whom they kept and who they shipped to Chicago.
In January, Zach LaVine will return to the court as a member of the Chicago Bulls. He hasn’t played in a NBA game since he hurt his knee in early February 2017 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. While it’s still a mystery how well LaVine comes back after surgery, the question can be asked if the Timberwolves traded the wrong young star wing to Chicago.
To say Andrew Wiggins is having a down year would be a little bit of an understatement. Wiggins started the season off nicely, but recently has struggled to even stay on the floor during the fourth quarter of games. The Timberwolves have played 10 games in the month of December and Wiggins has only scored 20 points or more in three games. Wiggins has only broken the 15-point mark once in the last four games which includes games where the former first overall draft pick scored only nine and seven points.
While it was a package of LaVine, Kris Dunn and the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen that finally got Jimmy Butler reunited with Tom Thibodeau, it was rumored before that it would take Wiggins as part of the package for the Bulls to bite. Obviously, the Wolves presented a package that worked without Wiggins, but that might not have been the right move.
Wiggins continues to struggle on the defensive end and has recently partially forgotten how to shoot a basketball. The not be able to shoot fundamentally does not even touch on his sometimes questionable shot selection.
LaVine plays defense. LaVine was developing into a nice shot taker before his injury. Plus, LaVine actually used his athleticism to his advantage and didn’t coast by.
The bottom line is there is a really good possibility that LaVine becomes a perennial All-Star while Wiggins is starting to run out of time to figure out if he wants to get to that level or not.
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This is all not even mentioning how Wiggins placed in the trade would have changed the rest of the package. It was perceived going into the trade that Wiggins was the better player, so that might’ve allowed the Timberwolves to send fewer assets to Chicago. Kris Dunn would sure look good in a Timberwolves jersey right now with the way he is playing this season and the lack of depth Minnesota currently has. The same can be said about Markkanen. The trade was never going to be truly a one-for-one straight up, but if it was Wiggins that was sent that probably would have resulted in the Wolves having one more legitimate NBA player on their roster.
Maybe LaVine won’t be the same player when he returns to action and maybe Wiggins will still turn into a superstar, we’ll have to wait and see to find those answers out. It is time to speak up about what a lot of people questioned at the time of the trade, though. The Timberwolves just might have traded the better player away in LaVine.
The Timberwolves continue their season with Wiggins, Butler and crew on Christmas Day. The Wolves play the late game when the play against the Los Angeles Lakers from Staples Center.