Former Timberwolves head coach Sam Mitchell cannot stand it when someone claims Andrew Wiggins is lazy, and his passion for his former player was on full display in an appearance on Darren Wolfon's podcast this week.
"You guys had better change your approach with Andrew Wiggins, because five years from now, at 27 years old, you all are going to be crying the blues if he remembers all of this and he leaves like Gordon Hayward did," Mitchell said.
Wiggins signed a five-year, $148 million contract extension with the Wolves earlier this week.
"He's improved in every category offensively," Mitchell added about Wiggins. "And he's a better team defender, a better basketball player and the sky is the limit."
Mitchell compares Wiggins to LeBron
"Andrew Wiggins will play in 7-10 All-Star Games. I really believe that," Mitchell said before comparing him to LeBron James.
"LeBron James' third year, he averaged 26. He's (Wiggins) three points off what LeBron James did, and he shot a better percentage from the 3-point line and free-throw line. He's right on par with LeBron James, and people just won't give this young man the credit."
Mitchell thinks Wiggins can guard Westbrook, Harden, etc.
Mitchell says when push comes to shove, Wiggins has the ability to be an elite defender, trustworthy to the point that he said he would put him on NBA MVP Russell Westbrook for the final five minutes of a game.
Of 70 players listed in ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus, Wiggins isn't even on the list. That suggests he's one of the worst defensive small forwards in the NBA.
Mitchell explains Wiggins' work ethic
"I get mad at people," said Mitchell, "you don't average 23 points a game in the NBA as a 22-year-old player being lazy. Even if he is lazy, he's so talented, he can average 23 a game.
"What happens when that light bulb comes on?"
Mitchell said Wiggins worked just as hard as Karl-Anthony Towns does, going as far as explaining the long days of hard work that Towns put in and saying Wiggins did the exact same thing. The process:
- 45 minutes one on one with a coach at 7:30 a.m.
- weight room
- film study with coaches
- team practice
"Andrew Wiggins did the same thing every day, and even came back in afternoons and at night," said Mitchell. "Why would his work ethic be questioned?"
Mitchell, clearly amused and frustrated at the same time, continued:
"Why are we even having this conversation? That's like telling me a guy on Wall Street is the number one producer the past three years, and has improved every year the past three years, and we're questioning if he knows what he's doing."
Mitchell wrapped up his praise of Wiggins by suggesting that Jimmy Butler, arguably a top 10 player in the NBA, "may be the third best player on the team."
"That's not a knock on Jimmy Butler," he said. "That's a compliment to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins."