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Flip Saunders On Wiggins, Muhammad, Dieng

Flip Saunders, the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations and coach, sat down for an interview with Britt Robson of to discuss the state of the team and the progress of some of its younger players this season. The entire interview is worth a read, and here are some of the highlights…

On the development of rookie Andrew Wiggins:

When we made the [Kevin Love] trade, there is no question that we switched somewhat, although we thought if we kept Ricky [Rubio] together with those guys we could be a blended team [of veterans and young players]. So based on where we were, and where everyone thought Wiggins was — coming out of college in Kansas people thought he was inconsistent and that you didn’t know what you were going to get out of him — I think over the last month or six weeks we are way ahead of where I thought we would be. Andrew wants to be good and will accept criticism. He has gotten to the point now where he knows when he is making a mistake. That is the difference between him and Zach LaVine at times. Zach still doesn’t know at times that he is making a mistake when he makes mistakes.

On which kind of role he envisions for Wiggins in the future:

We want him to be like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Scottie Pippen. Because they are all two-way players. A lot of those guys were their team’s best offensive player but also their team’s best defensive player. And their tenacity, the team goes through it. Wiggins is in a much more difficult situation than what Kevin Garnett had here [as a younger player]. Because Garnett had some vets that were going to be there for awhile and really locked in and we just don’t have the same type of guys. So we never asked KG to carry us offensively [early in his career]. We have had to ask that of Wiggins. My biggest thing, the one thing KG could always do, he could always create shots at the end of games — that’s tough when you are a power forward. Wiggins will be able to create shots for himself or for somebody else and be able to do that off the bounce.”

On what other players have been bright spots this season:

Shabazz Muhammad. There is no question that Muhammad — Wig probably misses him a little bit now, because with those two guys in there you are always creating some type of mismatch. There will have to be a smaller guy on one of them. But if you look at where Muhammad was at a year ago compared to where he is now, he is one of the top five guys [in the league] in terms of most-improved player. Then there is the development of Gorgui Dieng. He has proven he is a solid guy and one of the top young big players in the league. And Zach [LaVine] is a lot better now than he was the first week of the season and through training camp.”

On if the team would seek to bolster its guard positions:

I’ll put it this way: If we can get backcourt help that is someone we feel could be in a long-term situation with us, we would do that.

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