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Wolves' Wiggins front-runner to win 'Rookie of the Year' at season's midpoint

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The Minnesota Timberwolves reached the midpoint of their season last night with just seven wins.

Injuries have decimated the Wolves in the first half of the season forcing Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and until Wednesday night Nikola Pekovic from the lineup for several weeks.

In what has been a complete catastrophe of a season, there has been a bright beacon of hope for the Wolves though – the play of highly-touted rookie Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins, was the top pick in last summer's NBA Draft, he was the jewel of a trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland.

Early on, Wiggins looked like the rookie many expected him to early in the season. But slowly things began to improve and before the 19-year-old rookie knew it he had won back-to-back Rookie of the Month awards from the NBA.

Wiggins really hit his stride on December 23 when the Wolves brought Wiggins back into Cleveland.

The rookie responded with 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting, and according to the Pioneer Press, points to that night as the turning point of his rookie season.

"One of the coaches was like: 'Any player can do it one night, but a great player does it every night,'" Wiggins told the newspaper. "That really stuck in my head."

And Wiggins has responded virtually every night since. Over the next 13 games he averaged 20.2 points and has shot the basketball at 48 percent. The stretch included a career-high 31 points in Minnesota's 113-105 victory at Denver.

Here are some of the highlights from the first half of the highly-touted rookie's season.

With two straight rookie of the month awards already in his possession Wiggins is the favorite to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award.

All six of the writers for Sports Illustrated's NBA Midseason Report Card choose Wiggins as the first half Rookie of the Year. Here is what one of the writers Chris Mannix had to say:

"Critics of the Wiggins-Kevin Love swap have to be reveling right now. While it's too early to declare the Love/Cavaliers marriage a failure, it's more than fair to declare Wiggins a bona fide rising star. Wiggins' offensive numbers have spiked every month – he's averaging 20.7 points in January – and Wolves coach Flip Saunders has forced him to become a reliable defender by handing him the responsibility many nights of defending an opponents top perimeter option. A healthy Jabari Parker would have made this a race; without him it's a blowout."

If Wiggins can hold on to win the award at the end of the season, he would become the first Timberwolves player in franchise history to win the award.

According to the Pioneer Press, Stephon Marbury (1996-97) and Rubio (2011-12) were the two closest to winning it, each finishing second. Kevin Garnett (1995-96) and Kevin Love (2008-09) finished sixth in rookie voting

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