During the first half of Sunday’s Timberwolves 116-109 win over Miami, coach Ryan Saunders didn’t like some of the decisions Andrew Wiggins was making. So he pulled him from the game and told him about it.
"I did it on the court,” Saunders said of his doling out his advice to Wiggins. “A lot can be made of relationships. I know some people may roll their eyes at the relationship aspect of coaching things with players. But it goes both ways -- the ability by taking Andrew out and then him being able to refocus with things, he didn't hang his head by any means.”
Perhaps that paid off later in the game, when Wiggins went bonkers in the fourth quarter by scoring 11 consecutive points, including three three-pointers in the victory.
Wiggins, for his part, took the critique in stride.
“I made a lot of dumb decisions,” Wiggins said. “And I had told him, … if I do something wrong, make me pay for it. He did that, and I feel like that woke me up too.”
It speaks to the kind of relationship that Saunders and Wiggins have that Saunders was able to speak the truth – and for Wiggins to respond with the kind of effort he had later in the game.
Saunders said it was also a step forward for Wiggins as he attempts to adjust his game from taking long twos to taking more threes. The Wolves have made that transition easier at practice by putting the point per possession values of certain shots on the floor.
“I’m glad he stuck to the shot values,” Saunders said with a smile. “I told him that in the locker room and I’ll continue to say that. He was big. I’d like [him] to hit 3s earlier in the game too, and in the middle, instead of just saving for the end, but I’ll take ‘em.”
Wiggins hadn’t hit a three this season before erupting for four in the fourth quarter.
“He didn’t want me to just lounge around or nothing,” Wiggins said of Saunders. “When I’m on the court he wants me to work. That’s what he expects and that’s what I’m going to give him.”