Andrew Wiggins has already learned how to get to the free-throw line at a fantastic rate. That's why, before Monday's game against the Spurs, one which the Timberwolves would eventually lose 101-95 to fall to 11-20 on the season, coach Sam Mitchell told his star second-year player to keep heading to the rim.
Wiggins finished Monday's game 8-of-18 from the field with 18 points. The bad news? He didn't shoot too well from outside the paint. The good? He got to the line eight times, though he made only a couple of those free throws. More importantly, Wiggins went 5-of-5 on attempts inside five feet of the rim.
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Wiggins' three-point shot is still inconsistent. If he's open, he can make them, but he's obviously not confident in his accuracy from long range just yet and is making a mere 24 percent of his threes on the season. So, for him to be efficient, Wiggins truly does need to keep penetrating at the rim. He's not finishes as efficiently around the hoop as he did a season ago (he made 67 percent of his attempts at a rim a season ago compared to just 59 percent this year), but at least he's getting there more. Once Wiggins develops the instincts that allow him to distribute in penetration, those numbers will probably improve, if only because the defense will have to be more wary about defending the pass as opposed to just the shot.
For now, though, keep getting to the hoop, Andrew. You're doing just fine on that front.
Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell had a message for young star Andrew Wiggins Monday night, and every night for that matter: Keep taking the ball to the basket, even if he gets his shot blocked five times.
That’s how many times the Spurs rejected him when the two teams played last week at Target Center. Defended mostly by blossoming star Kawhi Leonard, Wiggins took 11 shots in that 25-point loss, made two, scored 10 points and had five of them swatted away.
And Mitchell said he’s fine with that in a league where Wiggins is sixth in free throws attempted (7.5 a game) and the Wolves lead all teams in free throws made and free-throw percentage.
“This is the NBA,” Mitchell said before the Spurs played without injured star center Tim Duncan on Monday. “Guys get dunked on. They get scored on. They can get their shot blocked. Right now, we’re trying to get Andrew to be aggressive and take the ball to the basket, so if he gets five blocked I’d be OK with that.
“We’re trying to develop a certain mentality with him and we want him taking the ball to the basket. He’s the best guy on our team at that and we think one day he’ll be really, really good at it.”