Most guys drafted in mid to late second round of the NBA Draft spend the bulk of their NBA career in the G-League for most of their career.
There are many reasons for why that is considering every player’s journey is different. For most players drafted in that range though, the reason they don’t get a lot of NBA minutes is because they don’t get a lot of opportunities to really showcase what they can really do. They get spot minutes to fill in when a guy is in foul trouble or get to play when it’s a blowout.
Their contracts could turn out to be non-guaranteed so there is no type of stability.
It’s no guarantee what kind of player you will get in the second round. We have seen Allstars, Hall of Famers, and more recently, a back to back MVP. We’ve also seen guys drafted in the second round not get any playing time. But for some guys, they get into a really good situation where they have the opportunity to get plenty of minutes and carve out a really good career for themselves.
Thunder wing Aaron Wiggins is one of those guys. Or at least it seems that way right now.
Aaron was a 4 star recruit from Greensboro, NC ranked 42nd in the country and ended up signing to play basketball at Maryland after getting offers from Cal, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, and a host of other Power 5 schools. He spent three years at Maryland where he earned Big 10 6th Man of the Year his sophomore year and was second in points, rebounds, and assists his junior year.
After his good junior year, Aaron declared for the draft and could have gone anywhere from late first round to un-drafted and eventually ended up getting drafted at 55 by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2020 NBA Draft. He was the fourth of four draft picks by the Thunder in that draft and there was no guarantee on if he would make the roster or if he would see any kind of playing time.
He did have a pretty good showing in Summer League which helped him sign a two-way contract. Still, no guarantee on if he would get NBA minutes or how many minutes he would get once he did but the two-way contract would guarantee him to be on the active roster on a good amount of nights. To make things tougher for him, he started his rookie year with an ankle injury that gave him a setback. But he did eventually get his chance after playing some time with the OKC Blue (Thunder G-League) and he did what he was supposed to do and made the most of it which earned him a four year deal.
In his short career so far, Aaron has had some ups and downs but one thing has been constant with him and that’s his professionalism. No matter what, Aaron has stayed ready to play. No matter how many minutes and no matter the role, he is always ready for it. This season in particular, Aaron has gone from getting DNPs to starting to playing a key role off the bench and back to DNPs then getting back in the lineup.
Aaron has done everything he can do to become a reliable role player and if he was on almost any other team, he might be playing a lot more or at least have a lot more consistent minutes but he plays with the Thunder who have so much young talent that it’s hard to give him the consistent minutes he wants and deserves. But the professionalism has never changed.
Aaron is one of the lucky ones drafted in the second round because he went to a great situation for him and the Thunder that has allowed him to showcase his skills on both ends of the floor. A lot of guys don’t get get so lucky.
But if you follow the Thunder you might know all of this and if you didn’t you could look up all of this online because it’s pretty straightforward. What don’t we know about Aaron Wiggins?
Most guys in Aaron’s position don’t get a lot of spotlight which means fans don’t really get to get any kind of insight into who they really are. In Aaron’s case, it’s truly unfortunate because he’s become a little bit of a fan favorite and Thunder fans love when he plays wanting him to play more.
Still we don’t know much about him.
I recently spent some time with Aaron and got to learn about Aaron the person instead of Aaron the basketball player and he gave a little insight about who he is:
Who is Aaron Wiggins outside of basketball?
Uh, I think, A good guy. Kindhearted, uh, you know, caring, supportive, loving person outside of basketball.
Taking it back to your youth, did you play any sports, other sports growing up?
Football. Really just Football.
What’d you play?
Were you good?
Yeah, I was nice. <laughs>, I was nice. I gave it up before high school, but I was nice. I didn’t play my freshman year. I stopped right after eighth grade, but still nice.
If you weren’t playing basketball, would that be the sport you’d play?
Football would be the sport that I have in, yeah. For sure.
You’re from Greensboro, North Carolina. Did you grow up as a Duke or North Carolina fan? Is that like a requirement there?
Uh, being in Greensboro, Duke and North Carolina were the two teams that were like obviously the focal point for sports. I was always on the Carolina side, but I grew out of that as time kind of went on and then I went to Maryland and stuff. So, I still keep up with the rivalry just cuz it’s close to home and I have a lot of people back home and who are high on that, so, yeah, that was, that was big though.
Would imagine you liked a lot of sports growing up but where did the love of basketball come from? Like were you the two year old with a basketball?
<laugh>? I was the two, three year old with little ball and the hoop, inside the house. Um, I don’t know, it was just kind of natural for me. And I remember being in elementary school, getting so much attention for at recess, being nice on the court and stuff. So I don’t know, it was just always my biggest passion.
So you were the sweaty kid after playing?
<laugh>? Nah, not, not like middle school, high school, the sweaty kid, like in, in gym or nothing, but like in elementary school for sure, I was going hard.
When, when growing up, obviously the goal is to get to the NBA, but when did you know that the NBA was a legit option for you?
Uh, maybe my junior year of high school. I had a really good season and off college offers started pouring in and I realized that it was actually something that, you know, I could go far with. But it was my freshman going into my, my sophomore year of high school. I had a growth spurt. Everything about me physically just kind of changed. I kind of grew into my body a little bit more and I really decided that I was gonna take it much more serious than I was before. So it was, it was really like my sophomore junior year that I realized that I had a chance.
How much was the growth spurt?
It was like five inches. I was like 5 11, 5 10 my freshman year and I hit like six pool my sophomore year. So went from playing like point guard to like wing. Yeah, it was like, it was, it was a drastic change for me.
Did you like have any previous connections with the NBA? Because right now it seems like everybody that comes into the NBA has some kind of connection with the NBA?
Not like family ties or like, you know, close-knit people of that sort. Once I got into college I met a lot of people who ended up going to the league before I got here and I knew people from that but up until high school, I had no contact with, you know, professionals or like deal of that level honestly.
Draft night, I know you’re sitting there and get into the second round. Did you think you wouldn’t get drafted?
I was pretty confident that I’d get drafted even in the late fifties if that was what it came down to. But you know, that was never my biggest worry. My biggest worry wasn’t getting drafted, it was just having the opportunity. So once I did get drafted it was a relief that I got to hear my name. But you know, I’m super grateful for the opportunity more.
What were the emotions you were going through?
Yeah, they were crazy. I mean, just inside the room I think everybody was kind of like sitting, you know, tensely, you know, just waiting to hear my name. But also with the excitement just cuz they knew that regardless of how the night ended, it was, it was the beginning of a new journey and you know, a new opportunity that would present itself.
More about you, who was your favorite player growing up?
Kobe. Yes. All day. Yeah, Kobe all day.
Everyone you guys’ age is more of a LeBron, Steph, or KD guy so why was it Kobe for you?
I just, I just remember sitting in my room late at night because I was on the east coast. He was west coast and it’d be 10, 11 o’clock. I’m going to bed on a weeknight before school and I’m watching him play and like, he was just always the guy that I was like, you know, kind of tuned into his approach to the game, his mentality, seeing the way that he just brought it every night on both ends of the court, made big plays, hit big shots. I don’t know, that was just something that I kind of fell in love with.
Kobe is your favorite player, you wore 2 in college and couldn’t wear 2 here because of Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] so why 21? Did you ever want to wear 8 or 24.
I got drafted year 2021 and it was just, you know, I thought that it was something that I could keep as a special number to me because that was a year I got drafted year that, you know, my dreams came true, especially as a kid.
Being here in OKC, the team that helped you make your dreams come true, what does its mean to be here in the city. Not just with the Thunder but the city and state in general?
It’s super special. I mean, having met so many people and seeing that the way they support the Thunder alone, but even outside of that, just their kind hearts and their, ability to just converse and, you know, be welcoming of here. I enjoy it. And then also it being in OKC, I don’t think that there’s nearly as much distraction or, you know, things that could cause any type of, you know, just affect your focus from the game. It’s, everything, you know, everything is right there for you that you need. Also, it’s not far off from Greensboro. Very similar. I think both environmentally, people, great people. In terms of things to do, there’s a lot of actual good and fun things to do. People here and in Greensboro, there’s a lot of similarities.
What about like the Thunder speicifically? What’s special about being with this group? I mean, you guys seem really close. It seems like from top to bottom it’s just filled with great people like Mark [Daigneault], who are really good. I’m not even talking about coaching, but he’s [Mark] a really great person. Sam Presti, really great person. The PR staff is filled with great people. So what does it mean to just be part of this because it could have gone completely different.
I mean everyone here is just super personal. You know, they kind of treat you as if you’re on the same level as them or like, they don’t, they don’t really have a hierarchy of, you know, the way that they treat each other. And, you know, they’re all, you can, you can tell everyone cares about one another and, I mean it’s, it’s definitely just an environment you wanna be in because everybody supports and encourages and pushes you to be the best person, best player you can be but they also care about you outside of basketball as a person.
Being one this Thunder, the youngest in the league the last 2 years and having everyone on the roster having an argument to play lots of minutes every single night, how do you deal with that and how tough is it deal with? More so your mentality about it? Starting one night, then not playing, then back in the lineup but not many minutes, with a different role every time.
Truthfully, I just try not to look at it. I just try to, you know, kind of just stay focused on becoming a better player as an individual and, you know, seizing the opportunity when I get it. But outside of that, you know, I can’t be, can’t be phased by, you know, the things you can’t control. I can’t pick and choose what I wanna play. I can’t pick and choose the minutes I get. I can’t pick and choose when I’m in the game. I can’t pick and choose a lot of things. So I control what I can and, and that just means, you know, being ready when, when the opportunity comes. Obviously I wanna be on the court, I wanna play but that’s not up to me.
So this is basically a control what I control mindset you have?
For sure, for sure. That the only thing I can do.
These last few questions are a little rapid fire really give the fans a little more insight into you so first off, what’s your favorite food?
That’s actually complicated. I can’t rapid fire answer that one. Uh, shrimp alfredo, but I’m allergic to shellfish, but it has to be shrimp alfredo because chicken alfredo doesn’t do it for me. <laughs> Also, my mom’s homemade broccoli casserole.
What about favorite non basketball thing to do?
Um, play around with my dog. Oh and video games. Warzone and 2k.
Who do you play with on 2k?
Jaylen Smith from the Pacers, one of my guys who’s at Maryland and then another guy who’s at usf. All on the same team. We’re homeboys. We all met at Maryland and we we’re really close.
If you didn’t go to the NBA, you said you’d be playing football, but other than sports, what do you think you would be doing?
Maybe like broadcasting, sports, broadcasting somewhere behind the camera, something like that. I’ve kind of enjoyed, you know, just kind of learning the game of basketball and stuff. So maybe like teaching coaching young kids, middle schoolers. I’ve gone back and coached little kids at camps and stuff at home and stuff and it’s been like super fun. Kind of just seeing the passion that and how serious little kids take it. So maybe, you know, coaching youth groups, young kids.
I have to ask because this has been going around on Twitter, what’s your favorite album from Drake?
What’s the one, the one with Marvin’s Room, Cameras/Good Ones?
Marvel or DC
Not a big comic book guy?
A nah. <laugh> Nah, I…choose Marvel though.
Who’s the best singer on the team?
Baz [Dairus Bazley] and then me, <laugh>. But you’ll never hear me sing, but for sure Baz.
Who’s the best dancer on the team?
That’s Baz too. He’s the most talented. He’s very well rounded. He’s got his hands in everything.
It’s very early in your career but how do you want to be remembered when your done playing?
Contagious, energetic type of guy. Positive energy. Super excited, smile type of guy with a competitive nature that competes and plays hard no matter what.