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Talkin’ About Practice: Wiggins’ continued aggressiveness, a 10-day contract, and checking on Butler

MINNEAPOLIS – Andrew Wiggins has been an enigma for much of his NBA career. Coaches have struggled with getting the most out of him at times. He’s not been what many anticipated in the league, but lately he’s been better.

Since Ryan Saunders took over the team on an interim basis, Wiggins has shown tangible improvement. It’s only been 10 games so far, but it’s been the best 10-game stretch of the season. It’s silly to say that Wiggins has turned the corner in his career, but it’s plausible to think that he’s turned a corner.

Wiggins still has had his down moments in this stretch – there have been times he’s floated through games – but he’s had more ups lately. He’s mostly been more focused in defensively, and more aggressive in getting to the rim.

In the 10 games since Saunders took over as coach, Wiggins has seen his scoring and his rebounding improve. Again, it’s not some sort of giant leap for the fifth-year pro, but it’s a step forward that was needed. His rebounding number has almost doubling from 3.9 rebounds per game under Thibodeau to seven per game under Saunders.

“We’ve had a number of conversations about him rebounding the ball,” Saunders said. “My biggest thought on rebounding the ball is a lot of times it’s, ‘do you want the ball? Do you want it more than the other guy?’ Andrew has done a good job of attacking rebounds.

“I believe in Andrew. I always have, and I’ll continue too. There’s something there, and him making this first step of really trying to be aggressive in terms of rebounding and doing other things within in his game. And then also having a more consistent game, scoring the ball and being aggressive. He’s on a great path.”

On the flip side, there’s no telling if this is something that will last. Wiggins has been a player that’s seen a few hot streaks followed by a return to his usual self before, and he’ll need to prove that this is the new standard for his play.

The next step for Wiggins has to be him doing this on a regular basis, and as many have said, there’s no reason why he can’t.

Injury update

As the Wolves head into their next game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at Target Center they’ll still be without Jeff Teague (left foot soreness), Tyus Jones (left ankle sprain), and Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise). Derrick Rose has been dealing with soreness in his right ankle and he’s questionable.

The depth, especially at the point guard position, is strained at the moment. Jerryd Bayless has been the starter with the trio of point guards ahead of him on the depth chart sidelined and filled in admirably. While Rose did participate in parts of practice – he was non-contact according to Saunders – Bayless was the one wearing the white practice jersey that typically denotes a starter.

According to SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson and The Athletic, the Wolves are adding help at that position in the form of Isaiah Canaan prior to tomorrow’s game against Memphis. Wolfson reported earlier in the day that the Wolves had at least one player in for a workout.

Canaan is in his sixth season in the NBA and has spent time with four different teams, including two separate stints in Houston. He was most recently a member of the Phoenix Suns, playing in 19 games this year before being waived on Nov. 28.

The move will help to ease the load on Bayless as the uncertainty surrounding the return of Jones, Teague, and Rose continues on.

Jimmy Butler speaks – again

Former Wolves and current 76ers forward Jimmy Butler joined Yahoo! Sports’ “Posted up w/ Chris Haynes” podcast that was released on Tuesday morning and had some words to say. There was plenty that the pair spoke about, and broaching the topic of the Minnesota Timberwolves was relatively quick to roll of the tongue.

“I still talk to some of the guys [in Minnesota], I really do,” Butler told Haynes. “I talk to Tyus, talk to Wiggs a little bit, I talk to Jeff, I talk to Taj, Ryan Saunders, all those coaches.”

Haynes mentioned that Butler was leaving out an obvious name from his list.

“I know, ain’t nothing wrong with that. Ain’t say I talk to everybody,” Butler responded. “But that don’t mean I don’t want KAT to be great. I want KAT to be great. I want KAT to have everything that he wants out of the game. I want Minnesota to win. I want them to be successful, because I think whenever you win you get hungry for more winning. Whenever you win and you come up short you’re like, ‘man, we’re right there, we’ve gotta get over that hump.’ I want Wiggs to be successful. I want Tyus to be a starter. I want everybody to be as successful as they can, make as much money as they can, be able to provide for their family and more for a long time to come. I have no bad things to say about anybody. Love Thibs, we all know that, so I don’t got nothing bad to say about him, either. It’s not like that. Not trying to relive the past or anything.”





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