Mitchell has helped the Timberwolves to a 13-29 start to this season.
Dan Hamilton/Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Mitchell is in a different position than many of the players he’s coaching. The Timberwolves have one of the best young rosters in the NBA. If you had to be one of the league’s non-playoff teams right now, you’d probably pick Minnesota.
The Wolves are stacked with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, both of whom could become All-Stars or better. They have players like Zach LaVine, Nemanja Bjelica, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng on the periphery. As the youth grows and as the Wolves add some more pieces, Minnesota could boast one of the best teams in the league.
The Wolves have a future.
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Sam Mitchell, on an interim status with the Wolves, may not, though. Mitchell could easily be out as Wolves coach at the end of the season given his contract status. Yet, the Wolves coach is hardly concerned with winning games. He knows preparing for a future that may or may not include him is what should be the No. 1 priority.
“Our three leading scorers are our young guys,” Mitchell said of Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine. That will be a blessing a year or two from now. It’s tough when they’re developing. But everything they’re going through is going to make them better.”
“Explain to me how we’re blocking the young guys?” Mitchell said. “When Andrew Wiggins is a 20-point scorer, and there are only 20 of those in the league? Karl-Anthony Towns is doing something that no rookie has done in 20 years. Zach LaVine is in the process of learning a new position and is our third-leading scorer. And Shabazz Muhammad has made tremendous strides. Gorgui Dieng has made strides …
“Now tell me, how are we hurting them?”
There’s plenty to critique of Mitchell’s coaching style, but pointing toward the future, of course, shouldn’t be part of the disapproval. In a developing team, less important than the X’s and O’s or the game strategy or the offensive system that has the Wolves last in three-point attempts and first in mid-range attempts is the actual development.
You can help guys get better without being a brilliant schemer. Of course, if Mitchell doesn’t actually help with budding the blossoms, this is a different story. But in a worst-case scenario, he has the right mentality, and that should be encouraging.