by Jamie Shaw and Jeff Bendel
Anyone who has followed the NBA within the last five to ten years already understands how significant three-point shooting is in today’s game. It is the skill that translates to every level. Guys like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been seen as trailblazers for this new “pace-and-space” era, which was originally derived from Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. However, the Spurs never had an otherworldly shooter like Curry or Thompson, which basically put a ceiling on their ability to maximize this style of play. Make no mistake, San Antonio has always been atop the relevance wagon, but that can be credited to smart drafting decisions and player development.
Why is this information useful? It has paved the way for Aaron Wiggins to be regarded as a legitimate NBA prospect. Not many folks were talking about his NBA chances after his past season, but that’s only because people aren’t looking close enough. By most accounts, Aaron Wiggins is considered a high-level shooter. We want to look at this more in-depth and see if we should start talking about Maryland’s rising sophomore Aaron Wiggins as an elite shooter.
Wiggins’ Physical Profile
First, we take a look at Wiggins’ physical profile. When you are able to get players who can move their feet and have good positional size, to go along with high-level shooting, then you have an incredibly valuable player at the NBA level. While the average height for NBA shooting guards is 6’5.3” (with shoes), Wiggins stands 6’6”. When you add in Wiggins 6’11” wing span and 36” max vertical you start to look at pretty substantial physical profiles. Taking a look at the first round wings taken in the 2019 NBA draft, Jarrett Culver (#6) measured 6’6” with a 6’9.5” wingspan, Tyler Herro (#13) measured 6’6” and a 6’3” wingspan, Nickiel Alexander-Walker (#17) measured 6’5.5” and a 6’9.5” wingspan and Kevin Porter Jr (#30) measured 6’5.5” with a 6’10” wingspan.
These numbers show Wiggins has above average positional size to pair with elite positional size and a vertical that shows he does have the athletic acumen to become a very good defender as he continues to grow.
Wiggins’ Back Story
All of this success for Wiggins should come as no surprise, he has been putting up numbers throughout his basketball career, even in high school where he finished in the 2018 class ranked #39 in the country by ESPN. At the time he committed to Maryland, Wiggins carried over 15 offers, with others from the likes of Florida, Arizona, Southern Cal, Virginia, Florida State and more.
During his junior season at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina Wiggins averaged 16.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.5 steals and 2 blocks per game while shooting 46% from the field and making 35 threes that season. He went on to transfer to Wesleyan Christian, a school who has produced the likes of NBAers Theo Pinson and Harry Giles, to team up with Jaylan Hoard (Wake Forest/Portland Trailblazers).
After his transfer to Wesleyan, Wiggins absolutely took off. He was the 2017 Steph Curry Camp MVP and was awarded first-team All-State as well as 1st Team UA All-Association teams. It was in January of 2017 Jamie Shaw caught up with Wiggins for a one on one interview, you could tell then, Wiggins mindset was just different, very mature for a high school underclassman.
Here are some quotes from that interview …
“I watch a lot of players like Jimmy Butler, I want to be able to be a 2-way player.”
“Malik Monk is a great scorer. He can create for himself and make shots, college coaches say I do that.”
“I am working on my leadership right now, being vocal.” The climb to the top is a never-ending progression, constant improvement.”
Wiggins By The Numbers
Wiggins played 23.5 MPG, averaged 8.3 PPG while shooting 41.3% from deep and 86.7% from the line. Of all freshmen who attempted at least 150 three-point attempts last season, Wiggins shot the eighth-highest percentage in college basketball while playing the hardest schedule of the group. Upon adding in his defensive rating (101) and free-throw percentage, Wiggins is only joined by freshmen Ben McLemore and MaCio Teague. However, the likes of Buddy Hield, Fletcher Magee, Jimmer Fredette, and Doug McDermott appear among the players after expanding it to players from all classes, over the past 10 years.
In looking at Wiggins’ numbers a little deeper, he was one of only two Power 7 Conference freshmen to shoot over 41% from 3 on 150 or more attempts (Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe the other). Further showing Wiggins as a big-time catch and shoot threat, he was one of only three players in the Big Ten last season to shoot over 41% from 3 with 145 or more attempts with a usage rate less than 19.
So, what does all that tell us? It clearly states that Wiggins is an elite three-point shooter with size, length, and major defensive upside. He can play either wing position and is already a net positive on both sides of the ball. His numbers are eerily similar to UNC’s Danny Green as a senior, though Wiggins is already a much better shooting threat at an earlier stage in his development. Could he be the next Danny Green, or something even better?