);
Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves

Despite first round exit, Andrew Wiggins and Timberwolves' future is still bright

#Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins completed his fourth NBA season on Wednesday night as the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Houston Rockets 122-104 in Game 5.

Wiggins helped break a 14-year playoff drought for the Timberwolves, and despite bowing out of the playoffs in just five games to the NBA's best regular season team, head coach Tom Thibodeau felt that the experience gained from this series will be massive for the Canadian and his young core.

"I think it's huge," Thibodeau told reporters after the game Wednesday. "I think the last month of the season was really good for us because of how tight the (playoff) race was.

"In many ways, it was similar to playoff experience."

When Minnesota added now four-time all-star Jimmy Butler to the fold, Wiggins was set to have his production the most impacted by the vets' arrival. The 23-year-old faced criticism all year for his drop in season averages and lack of aggressiveness.

However, when Butler went down with a knee injury it was Wiggins who elevated his game while the Wolves were without their leader.

In the month of March, the Canadian averaged 18.8 points, 4.8 rebounds on 44% shooting from the field. In his first playoff run, he led the team in scoring at 15.8 points and 5.2 boards on an efficient 44% from the field.

As the season comes to a disappointing end in Minnesota, many detractors will point to Wiggins' inconsistent play throughout the season and his massive five-year $146.5 million dollar deal that's set to kick in next season - making him the highest paid Canadian athlete ever.

The bar was set high for the Vaughan native even before stepping foot in the league, but after completing only his fourth full NBA season there's still time for him to fulfill his lofty draft day expectations.

At the end of the day, coach Thibodeau isn't worried about the progress of Wiggins, nor his young team.

"Just continue to build," Thibodeau said. "We need to have another strong summer - have to have a strong fall.

"We need to have everyone make a commitment to continue to improve and learn...that's the thing about this league you're always going to be challenged."

Wiggins, Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves will be challenged next season to not only make the playoffs but also compete.

A challenge they'll surely welcome.

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