Coming off of a weekend with accolades right and left for the Minnesota Timberwolves, an interesting talker came up on our radio show this weekend. About halfway through the Saturday’s With Sauce program on KFAN Radio, my cohort posed a question. Which young Minnesota athlete has a brighter future, Teddy Bridgewater with the Vikings or Andrew Wiggins with the Timberwolves?
The thought was so interesting, it calls for a little more thought and another blog now that I’ve better gathered my thoughts.
Let’s fly through their resumes really quick.
Teddy Bridgewater, 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft:
Got off to a slow start but finished his rookie season with a 6-6 record as quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. Has the third highest pass completion percentage (64.4%) for rookie quarterbacks behind Ben Roethlisberger (66.4%) and Robert Griffin III (65.7%). Threw at least one touchdown pass in each of the final ten games of the season. The final five games of the season tied for league lead with Tony Romo for completion percentage (72.0) and trailed only Romo in passer rating (103.0) over that time. Teddy finished his rookie season with 2,919 yards passing with 14 touchdowns in only 13 games. Teddy won the Pepsi (Fan Vote) Rookie of the Year award in 2014.
Andrew Wiggins, 1st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft:
After a similar slow start, Wiggins is coming into his own. Averaging 15.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.1 steals per game, Wiggins is running away with the rookie of the year award this season. In fact, over the weekend it was Wiggins who was named the MVP of the Rising Stars game at All Star Weekend.
So you have two young players, still waiting to grow into their man muscles playing two very different sports. One game is more individual while the other is the ultimate team game. One player has the ability to impact the game both on offense and defense, the other physically cannot. Admittedly, this is comparing apples to oranges, but it’s interesting so let’s try.
Wiggins appears to have the potential to someday be the best player in the league. Already beating NBA opponents off the dribble while he continues to learn the speed and strength of the game, Andrew’s natural ability is affording him opportunities at the rim. That said, early in his career, it’s mainly reactionary for Wiggins who has yet to grasp the mental side of the game that players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant perfected. There seems to be skill within Wiggins body, but that “I’m going to beat you no matter what” mentality does not come natural to him.
For Teddy, it’s not so much his physical abilities as it is his mental wherewithal. A cerebral football player, he’s perfect for the quarterback position. A born leader, Teddy doesn’t even have to use words to convey his message. That said, when he does it’s impactful. And he’s not exactly a slouch when it comes to the talent either. While there was a visible adjustment that Teddy banged his way through midseason, he did make it through. And on top of that, he was doing some of the things that you see great quarterbacks do, and not necessarily as rookies. Fitting balls into tight windows, leading the team down the field in the two-minute offense, and fighting from behind to win a handful of games this season, for a rookie, Teddy has more wily vet to him than most.
The edge that Wiggins may have is his ability (both his natural ability and the ability that his game affords him) to flip over and become a dominant defender as well. Most recently we saw him lock down one of the games best, the All Star Game MVP, Russell Westbrook. Wiggins held Westbrook to 18 points on 7 of 22 shooting.
The edge for Teddy is that the offense centers around him, an already established team leader. Having the ball in his hands every single offensive play, Bridgewater is the guy the team looks to to lead them down the field. They trust him because of what he has proven, they believe in him because of who he is both in the limelight and out of it.
At the end of the day, if I were forced to make a decision on which rookie has the brightest future, I would have to lean towards Bridgewater.
It may be true to say that Andrew Wiggins has the most potential to someday become the best player in his league, but that doesn’t always win championships. Here’s how I see it, time to make some bold comparisons…
Andrew Wiggins may have more Lebron James to him, but Teddy has more Tom Brady to him, I'd rather have Brady.
I see potential dynasty in Teddy, at least the kind where year-in and year-out you are competing deep into the playoffs. You see consistency, you see composure, you see confidence exude from Teddy Bridgewater. All of those characteristics are ideal for his position, maybe the most integral position in all of sports.
The best part about this entire hypothetical conversation is that there’s no losers. It appears that the future will be bright for both of these Minnesota Sports teams. Pair that up with what the Wild are doing over in St. Paul and what the Twins have coming down the chute and the future looks darn good for Minnesota sports. I don’t want to nominate myself so quickly on the eve of PST VII, but if this all plays out, which we know it will not, Minnesota could be the most likely city to pull the “Boston Dominance” card among the four major sports!