It's time for the Timberwolves to bench Andrew Wiggins

His numbers are really bad this season.
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Andrew Wiggins has the skillset of a perennial All-Star but plays like a sixth man, which is exactly the role he should be playing with the Timberwolves. 

The 24-year-old former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 17.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, all while making a putrid 39.5 percent of his shots. 

For $25 million this year – and even more the next four years – Wiggins has produced a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 11.89. That sucks. There's no other way to say it. 

If you're not a hardcore basketball fan you probably want to know what PER is. 

The man who created PER, ESPN's John Hollinger, says the stat "sums up all a player's positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player's performance."

Wiggin's PER ranks 236th in the NBA, right alongside Portland's Maurice Harkless and Denver's Juan Hernangomez, who are arguably more valuable to their teams than Wiggins is to the Wolves. 

Everyone knows Wiggins can score when he plays hard, but he's an inefficient scorer, as evidenced by his sad shooting percentage. And then there's this glaring statistic from Aaron Gleeman: 

"119 NBA players are averaging at least 10 field goal attempts per game this year. Andrew Wiggins ranks 118th in both True Shooting % and Effective Field Goal %," Gleeman wrote on Twitter

Beyond his bad shot selection and low percentage, Wiggins brings next to nothing to the floor. Maybe he's super fun in the locker room and a great teammate, but the NBA is a business and Wiggins doesn't pull his weight. 

His defense is weak, he's doesn't rebound and isn't nearly the facilitator he could be with a 6-foot-8 explosive frame. 

A player as freakishly athletic as Wiggins should be on the attack almost always, either drawing fouls at the rim or kicking to open teammates when the defense collapses. Instead, "Maple Jordan" (he's from Canada) settles for low-percentage jump shots over and over again. 

Want a massive slap in the face, Wolves fans? 

Go back to Kevin Garnett's early February interview with Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins. After congratulating Towns on his second straight All-Star appearance, Garnett asked Wiggins when he was going to elevate his game and become an All-Star. 

"Next year's the motivation for it. Next year, that's what I'm aiming towards," answers Wiggins, who then taps Towns on the leg and says "I'm going to be with him next year."

Next year? What happened this year and last year? It's a seriously alarming response.  

For a guy who thinks he's on the verge of becoming an All-Star, now would be a really good time to start planting seeds that it's actually possible, because the 11 points, six boards and one assist he had in Minnesota's loss to Indiana Thursday night aren't doing it. 

Nor were the three rebounds and one assist he totaled in 41 minutes of Minnesota's horrible loss to the lottery-bound Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. 

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A failure in the clutch

What's worse is that Wiggins stinks in the clutch. The guy shouldn't be on the floor in the final minutes because if he gets fouled he's likely to miss critical free throws. 

According to Wolves radio play-by-play man Alan Horton, Wiggins is 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) at the free-throw line during clutch time, which represents the final five minutes of games where the score is within five points.

It's time to bench Wiggins

There's a ton of pressure on the franchise to keep Wiggins happy because no team in the league is going to be interested in trading for a contract that is about as appealing as a poop-flavored lollipop, but at some point team brass needs to send Wiggins a message, or simply do what's right. 

Benching a guy who's started all 383 regular season games of his career would be a shock to the system, and possibly, as Garnett tried to do in his interview, "light a fire under his ass." 

If it jumpstarts Wiggins to the All-Star he thinks he's capable of being, great. If he doesn't change, no big deal because it's just validation that benching him is the right move. 

Beyond sending a message, bringing Wiggins off the bench in favor of Okogie and Covington in the starting lineup would make Minnesota a better defensive team and bring more balance to what's been a pretty solid bench this season. 

Fans are tired of being disappointed and frustrated, and with the franchise nowhere near playoff caliber this season – and 14 of the final 20 games against playoff-bound teams – there's no time better than now to send Wiggins a message and start focusing on what the team's starting five could look like next season. 

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