StaTuesday: Andrew Wiggins' late-game heroics, by the numbers
Ryan Saunders believes in Andrew Wiggins.
"I'm in his corner, and I want to make sure he knows that," the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach told reporters after Sunday's game.
After that, well, it's not hard to understand the appeal.
Wiggins, 24, put on a clinic in the fourth quarter Sunday, powering the Wolves to a 116-109 win over the Miami Heat in their home opener with some of the most inspired shooting of his five-year career.
Wiggins scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth, draining four consecutive 3-point tries during his endgame outburst.
He went on an 11-point run of his own with the Wolves trailing 101-99 and a little over three minutes to play, motoring through Miami's defense with 3:28 to play, then hitting three straight triples to push the Wolves' lead to 110-101.
It was one of the biggest fourth-quarter performances of the young season.
Only Memphis rookie Ja Morant (17 points vs. Brooklyn on Sunday) and Portland's Damian Lillard (18 points at San Antonio) have scored more points in a fourth quarter so far this season.
Wiggins, meanwhile, is the only player in this young NBA season to make four 3s in the fourth, and one of just five players to do it in any quarter.
Per the Wolves, Wiggins' 16 points were the third-most by a Minnesota player in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter since at least 1997.
Wiggins, who entered Sunday's game 0-for-7 on the season from deep, missed his first six 3-point tries before coming alive in the final frame.
It's an early win for Saunders' new-look offense. The Wolves, who last year averaged just 28.7 3-point tries per game, 26th in the league, have attempted 43, 38 and 36 3s in their three games this season.
"He is going to have a very good year," Saunders said of Wiggins after Sunday's game. "It's going to take time for all of it to come together, with our emphasis and changing of systems, but he is going to have a good year."
Statistics via Sportradar