Wolves’ wing Andrew Wiggins recently sat down with the Vertical’s Chris Mannix and discussed a variety of topics ranging from what advice he would give his rookie self and what things are like now that head coach Tom Thibodeau is in charge. The interview ran for about 15-mintues and can be found here. Below are Wiggins’ most interesting answers:
On being durable over his first two seasons (playing 82 and 81 games, respectively):
AW: You feel it, you feel it. And I feel like I’m getting older, my bodies getting older, not so athletic and all that. I feel it, you know, but there’s a lot of things you can do to get back to your normal self. The icing and all the kinds of treatment you can do. I feel good now going into the season.
On the progress he’s made over his first two seasons and what he’s happy about:
AW: I’ve gotten stronger; I’ve gotten a lot smarter. More confident, comfortable. I know what I can do on the court. I know my spots where I can score. My confidence right now is through the roof.
An example of being smarter:
AW: It’s not that I wasn’t smart my first year, I just got better at it. I see more stuff. They say experience can be the best teacher. The more games I play, I just learn. Like, say I’m coming off of a pick-and-roll and the [offensive player] on the wing raises up and there’s a guy in the corner I can swing the ball to or to always driving baseline. There is always going to be a guy in the opposite corner. There’s just certain stuff that you know that is going to be there.
On Flip Saunders death and how it effected him:
AW: It hurt. It wasn’t the best day for me. It wasn’t the best day for anyone. But, stuff happens. He had a vision, he’d want us to always play hard. Play our heart out. Every game we play, we play for Flip, regardless of the situation.
On Flip’s obvious confidence in him as being a special player for trading Kevin Love:
AW: It meant a lot. As soon as it happened I was like, “Dang. They want to trade him for me. He hasn’t seen me play a real NBA game yet, but he’s trading his franchise player who averaged 26/12 for one guy who hasn’t played an NBA game yet.” So, I was like, I must be something special, he must believe in me, he must think I can be something in this league. And Flip Saunders, that’s a legendary coach. So, you think about him saying that and thinking that about you, your confidence is going to go through the roof.
On how Wiggins remembers Flip:
AW: Flip. Shoot, he was a player’s coach, always looking out for his players, always protecting his players. Loving, caring guy, loved his family, loved everybody. Treated everybody with respect. Never looked down on anybody. A joy to have around. The best coach. He was just a great guy. A great family member.
On learning how to end games by losing close ones:
AW: There’s a lot of things that come down to it. Digging in during the rebound, digging in to defend, getting your plays right. Executing your plays is key. In the 4th quarter, that’s when the game slows down. Half-court sets and not as much transition. That is when you really have to execute. The team that executes and rebounds usually wins the game.
On the excitement around the team, specifically around him and KAT, and the chemistry they share:
AW: Oh, it’s been building. You know even [Karl-Anthony Towns’] first year here we were close. Karl’s a guy that, you know, you just get close too. He talks a lot, he’s everywhere, he’s talking to everybody. He’s a people person, so you know you’re going to get some type of relationship with him. It’s been growing, on and off the court. On the court, me and him have big roles on the team, so that chemistry is building everyday.
On wondering whether or not he’ll get along with someone, especially of KAT’s caliber, when they join the team:
AW: Uh, not really. You might think when you don’t know him, like before he got drafted or when he get’s drafted, you might think “How’s he gonna be?” But I had a chance to play with him in high school for a game during the [Nike] Hoops Summit and I was his roommate, so I know who he was already. I was excited [laughs].
On KAT and Wiggins’ “bread-and-butter” play:
AW: The thing is, our end of possession plays end up as the same thing, really. But, every play we got, it consists of the guard and the big man with the screen-and-roll or hand-off or something, so I’m getting involved with Karl either way, whether I like it or not. We’re going to have the opportunity to play and make something happen.
On how much Thibs talks to KAT and Wiggins as the young leaders and what he talks about:
AW: He pushes us a lot. He talks to us about leadership. About “How’s the teams doing?”, “What do you guys think about practice?” He’s always asking us. It’s feels like he wants to get better at what he’s doing and he’s teaching us a lot, we want to get better, you know? So, we’re all building a great, great relationship. He’ll take us into his office and talk to us, watch film with us. The head coach watching film with you. It tells you a lot.
On what leadership Thibs expects of him:
AW: He expects us to play hard, talk, and pick everybody up. He always says, “How you, Karl, and Zach [LaVine] play, that’s going to set the standard for everybody else. If you play hard, it’s going to make everyone else arrive. You guys don’t play hard, people are going to think that they don’t have to play hard if you guys don’t play hard.” So, he tells us, “You guys have to play hard, you guys are the reason, you make the team go.”
On vocal vs. leading by example:
AW: I feel like, a lot of people are leaders in different ways on this team. Like Ricky [Rubio], he’s a great vocal leader. He talks, he gets everybody involved. Karl’s a great vocal leader. I feel like I’m better at leading by example than by leading vocally. Those guys are relying on me and my leading by example. What I do, it speaks volumes.
On Thibs’ vision and vision for him specifically:
AW: He said he wanted me to take over. He wanted me to be a leader. He wanted me to do more. He wanted me to rebound. Do everything I can for the team. Just assert myself. He wants be to do everything [laughs]. Everything I can possibly do on the court, he wants me to do.
On if he has been yelled at by Thibs yet:
AW: I don’t every really notice it [laughs]. It happens a lot. It happens a lot. That’s just the tone of his voice. You really have to listen to the message with him and not the tone of voice.
On what he has noticed about Thibs’ preparation:
AW: It’s very consistent and it is different from other coaches I’ve seen. It’s just a bunch of stuff, everything you can think of is on the board and we go through it all [laughs]. Every time [laughs]. It’s a routine, he doesn’t miss anything, it’s always the same, he’s very consistent in his work.
On Minnesota and his long-term future:
AW: I want to stay here for as long as they want me. I want to be here. I love it here. I love the city. I love the fans. I’ve built a relationship with everyone that works here. I love it here. I want to be here forever.
On personal expectations for this season:
AW: Shi…I just want to make the playoffs. That’s the main thing. If we do that, then our goal is complete. Because we know we are just going to build from there.
Additionally, the kind folks over at Whistle Sports (@WhistleSports) provided us with another Wolves’ summer workout video, this time of Zach LaVine. Much like what was seen in the previous video highlighting Andrew Wiggins, LaVine put in significant time this summer working on his ball-handling, shooting, and finishing around the rim.