On Wednesday, the Minnesota Timberwolves sent out a press release stating that a “major announcement” featuring the NBA would take place on Thursday afternoon. They kept the language vague, but wasn’t hard to read the tea leaves; at a Thursday press conference at Target Center, their badly hidden secret was made official. Andrew Wiggins is the 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Despite the bizarre insistence of random internet contrarians that anyone else was a more appropriate candidate, Wiggins pretty much ran away with the award, securing 110 of 130 first place votes. Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic finished second and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel came in third.
Wiggins appeared in all 82 of the Timberwolves’ games and led all rookies in minutes, points, points per game, and free throw attempts per game. He also finished fourth among rookies in steals, fourth in rebounding, and sixth in blocked shots. He became the fourth player to win Rookie of the Year in his age-19 season, joining LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in that category. He won Western Conference Rookie of the Month four times (November – February) and was the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend in New York City.
Winning the award is by no means a guarantor of future success. Not all Rookies of the Year are created equal. Some years, the class is weak and somebody has to win it (hello, Michael Carter-Williams). Sometimes, it’s a stepping stone for a player who is onto bigger and better things, the first benchmark on their path to NBA superstardom.
I’m biased, but with Wiggins, I feel strongly that it’s the latter. As Steve wrote on Twitter, it felt preordained, somehow. Wiggins has been on the radar since he was 14 years old, was a standout prospect at the University of Kansas, was the first overall pick in the draft and had a stellar rookie campaign. It just sort of makes sense that he won the award, like it was the logical next step for him.
That isn’t to diminish the importance of the award itself, of course. It’s a tremendous honor for Wiggins – his ear-to-ear grin in just about every picture from today tells you that. But it’s also probably not the most prominent piece of hardware he’ll be able to put on his mantle before it’s all said and done.