Andrew Wiggins’ NBA career hasn’t gone as well as anyone anticipated back when he was a standout at the University of Kansas. Despite being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and the recipient of a max contract extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wiggins has struggled to be much more than an inefficient volume-shooter over the last few years.
While Wiggins’ raw talent is undeniable, his issue has been putting it together and rounding out his game, especially after he averaged a career-high 23.6 points per game in 2016-17. The good news is he’s still young, and thanks to some changes in Minnesota, he’s optimistic about what the future holds.
“I feel like my first three years I was on the rise and was getting better and better and then some changes were made,” Wiggins said in an interview with Phil Mackey of SKOR North. “I worked really hard this summer, and I’m as confident as I was when I first came into the league.”
One reasons for this optimism stems, in part, from his new head coach. The Timberwolves, after firing Tom Thibodeau 40 games into last season, promoted longtime assistant Ryan Saunders, who saw the interim tag stripped from his title during the offseason. Wiggins praised Saunders’ for being a “players’ coach,” and explained that he prefers that approach over more of a disciplinarian.
“All the yelling and stuff, I feel, is not going to really change my mood,” Wiggins said. “But when a coach comes at me and is real and tells me the real I feel like I respect that a lot more than anyone just yelling. Because anyone can yell, anyone can raise their voice, but not a lot of people can be real. So that goes a long way for me.”
It’s not hard to read between the lines and see that Wiggins believes some of the chaos in Minnesota last year or two — from Thibodeau’s style of coaching to things like the Jimmy Butler saga — stunted his growth as a player. Of course, it’s now on him to show that these sorts of things were to blame, and while the only way to know is for the games to start, confidence is key, and Wiggins seems to be in a good place in that regard right now.