On Friday, the Minnesota Timberwolves lost at home to the San Antonio Spurs. Key Dae recapped the defeat on this website - you can read his thoughts by clicking this link. Despite the outcome, there were moments when Andrew Wiggins showcased his explosiveness on offense. These instances can be perceived as progress.
By halftime, with the Wolves trailing 48-59, Wiggins had scored five points on three field goal attempts. In addition, he made three-of-four attempts from the foul line. Wiggins came alive during the 3rd frame when the Wolves made a concerted effort to get him some scoring opportunities. This has been a trend all season.
Roughly 30 percent of Wiggins' playing time this season has come during 3rd quarters, where he's scored 61 of his 121 total points. Wiggins is shooting just over 60 percent from the field during that time. On Friday, Flip Saunders continued running designed plays for Wiggins almost immediately after halftime.
Let's have a look. (I've got to make this quick, though. I'm at work. I just wanted to get these up before Wolves-Kings begins tonight.)
Here, Wiggins receives the ball at the left-wing and is left with space to go 1-on-1 with Kawhi Leonard. It appears as if he makes his move before Gorgui Dieng can set a screen. By doing this, Wiggins runs himself right into Tim Duncan and the result is a badly missed shot.
No big deal. Players miss shots all the time, especially against the Spurs. Onto the next.
Here, Wiggins is rendered space to dribble-penetrate into an open lane. After a nifty crossover, he pulls up near the free throw line but the shot falls short.
Lenard is no slouch on the defensive end -- Wiggins did well to create space for a jump shot. Unfortunately, it just didn't go in the basket. If you're keeping track, two scoring opportunities took place in about a four-minute span. And there's more.
Below, Dieng and Mo Williams perform a side-pick and roll while Wiggins stands in the near-right corner of this image, spacing the floor. Dieng makes an impressive skip-pass to Wiggins. Here's the result.
Boris Diaw is the Spurs player who goes to close on Wiggins, who takes one dribble left before launching a three point shot. Had there been more time on the shot clock Wiggins could have tried attacking the basket. Allthewhile, it's a decent opportunity considering the circumstances.
Below, a play Wolves fans can rejoice over.
When a player is in the triple-threat position, he is facing the basket and can either; shoot, dribble or survey the floor and pass to a teammate. Above: Wiggins achieves triple-threat position near the baseline. He jab-steps twice to create space, but sees Leonard is anticipating a pullup jumper. Moving parallel along the baseline, Wiggins takes one dribble and elevates toward the rim, absorbs contact, scores and makes the ensuing free throw to complete a 3-point play. His first points of the 3rd quarter.
Here's another look.
Something to keep in mind: Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP.
Below, less than a minute later, Wiggins is in triple-threat position again. After the previous possession Leonard doesn't want to leave room for Wiggins to drive baseline. Instead, he provides enough space for Wiggins to pull up and shoot from the perimeter.
That's two consecutive possessions where Wiggins scored out of the triple-threat position from that area of the floor.
And he's not done.
You'll see Duncan arrive as Marco Belinelli - someone not known for his defensive prowess - faces Wiggins, who understands his path to the hoop is well defended. He simply elevates and connects on another jump shot taken near the corner. The last three possessions highlighted in this post happened between the 7:05 and 6:05 marks during the 3rd quarter.
Wiggins scored 9 of his 14 points during the 3rd quarter. He shot four-of-nine from the field during that span. Not bad, not great, but this was undoubtedly an encouraging performance for the 19-year old rookie.
After the game, Flip Saunders expressed how important it is for Wiggins to assert himself during the game, but doesn't want to always have to call his number. What that means is Saunders would like to see Wiggins demand the ball, get to his spots and score within the flow of the game. The Wolves shouldn't always have to run plays for Wiggins, who should be able to manufacture points without them -- that's how talented he is.
Anywho, I'm off to the Target Center where I'll be covering Wolves-Kings later tonight.
Until next time.