The burden of a max contract is weighing heavily on the shoulders of Andrew Wiggins

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves

Just days before the start of the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Andrew Wiggins committed to one another as he signed a five-year, $148 million max contract.

The deal made Wiggins the highest paid player on the roster and finally brought long negotiations between the two parties to an end.

The lucrative contract was met with surprise by many people who felt that the franchise had overpaid for a player who had not done enough to earn such an outlay.

But Wiggins was coming off a career year and the T-Wolves were confident that his best years were ahead of him and would fulfill his potential.

Unfortunately, however, the small forward has taken a huge step back so far this season and the T-Wolves could well be regretting their decision if things don't improve.

Drop off

Last year, the 22-year-old played all 82 games and averaged a career-high 23.6 points, 2.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game whilst shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range.

In contrast, the majority of those numbers have dipped this campaign as he's posting 17.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.8 apg and 1.2 spg on 43.2 percent shooting and 31.8 from downtown.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

His efficiency from the floor has been extremely poor and his efforts on the defensive end have also left a lot to be desired.

The young Canadian is often criticised for just being a scorer and not offering much else on the court.

When his shot's not falling, he's very rarely able to impact a game in other ways and assert himself.

His form should be a big concern for the Timberwolves but their 29-17 record has masked his inconsistencies.

So far, he's failing to live up to his big contract but his team will need him to show an improvement as they're destined to end their 13-year playoff drought.

Their five-game winning streak was snapped in their last outing by the Orlando Magic and Wiggins produced another below-par display. He put up just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting.

The arrival of Jimmy Butler has benefited Minnesota immensely but his presence may be a hindrance to Wiggins.

With the former Chicago Bulls star commanding a big role offensively, it seems to have stunted the growth of the athletic young forward as he's struggling to play third fiddle behind Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves

Expectation

A massive contract means big expectation and the fans in Minneapolis have been frustrated with the way Wiggins has played this year and have often been quick to voice this on social media.

He has the ability to be a star in this league and now that he's paid like it, they expect him to be exactly that.

But it's important for him to ignore the critics and focus on getting better and he certainly has the backing of his head coach and teammates who believe he's slowly moving in the right direction and will prove people wrong.

“Wigs is getting better every single day," Towns said, per The Star Tribune. What he brings to this team is I think underappreciated, especially by you guys.

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves

"We know what we have with Wigs on our team. … I think he gets a lot of backlash that’s not worthy of him. He does a lot of great things that don’t always show up on the stat sheet, and that’s why he’s so vital to our team.”

The Kansas product has found it difficult to fit in with such a dominant character like Butler but coach Tom Thibodeau believes he'll find a way to make it work eventually.

“This team is a lot different from it was last year and last year’s team was a lot different from the year before that,” Thibodeau said. “So it’s how quickly can you adapt?

"Anytime you add talented players, sacrifices have to be made if you want to win. You have to prioritise the team. The thing about Andrew and Karl is, they’re so young [both 22]. They’re going to get a lot better.”

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves

Thanks to both Butler and KAT being effective offensively, the T-Wolves have often found ways to win even when Wiggins goes through shooting slumps.

He's not the most prolific player from beyond the arc or even from mid-range and he struggles to beat defenders one-on-one.

But the former number one overall pick is a threat off the ball and cutting to the basket and it's Thibodeau's job to run the right plays to utilise his best skills.

There's no doubt that the Toronto native is a talented player, but now that he's in his fourth year in the league, it's time for him to find a level of consistency that proves it.

News Now - Sport News