OAKLAND, CALIF. – While he searches for his shot at the free-throw line in the present, Timberwolves young star Andrew Wiggins finds comfort in his consistent past there.
Wiggins’ free-throw percentage was remarkably consistent during his first three NBA seasons: .760 in his rookie and third seasons, .761 in his second season.
That’s why he said he’s confident his current .574 percentage — 35-for-61 entering Wednesday’s game at Golden State — will find its level.
“I shot the same from the free-throw line my first three years, 76 percent,” Wiggins said. “I’m sure it will go back up.”
He has shot 1-for-6 and 0-for-3 on certain nights this season. He also went 7-for-8 in a game at Miami last week.
“I think it’s all mental,” Wiggins said. “Some games I make it, some games I don’t. The last two years I started out slow at the free-throw line and then it just went up. I know I can shoot. It doesn’t really mean anything.”
Teammate Jamal Crawford has seen it all in his 18 NBA seasons and said he had a talk with Wiggins about shooting’s fickle nature.
“He’s shooting it better,” Crawford said. “I think he’s figuring out what works for him and he’s getting comfortable up there.”
Carrying on without K.D.
Warriors superstar Kevin Durant missed Wednesday’s game because of a thigh contusion he sustained in Monday’s 97-80 home victory over Miami.
Without him, Andre Iguodala started in Durant’s forward spot alongside regulars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia. Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn’t often disrupt his second unit with such a move, but did so with his “gut instinct” because he wanted Iguodala’s perimeter defense against the Wolves’ Wiggins-Jimmy Butler one-two punch.
“Their depth is exceptional,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s what makes them so good. You’re still looking at Curry, Klay, a Draymond, Iguodala, David West, a [Shaun] Livingston. The biggest thing probably is this team isn’t just an offensive team. It’s a great defensive team as well.”
Durant’s absence still left the Warriors with plenty of available talent. Thibodeau had particular praise for Green and his skill set.
“I’ve always said I think Draymond is the most unique player in the league,” Thibodeau said. “He brings a lot of toughness to [the Warriors]. His ability to make hustle plays, those type of plays do nothing but unite and inspire the team. Then everyone starts doing it. They have a lot of guys who have made great strides defensively.”
Remembering when …
Crawford has played for seven teams during his 18 NBA seasons, including 54 games for the Warriors during a brief stay just before Golden State selected Curry seventh in the 2009 NBA draft.
“I loved it; it was the first place I experienced where it can be sunny out at 7:30, 7:45 in the morning,” said Crawford, who grew up in Seattle and played for the University of Michigan, the Bulls and the Knicks before he went to the Warriors. “It’s funny: This is Year 18 and that was Year 9, halfway to where I am now.”
Great minds think alike
Thibodeau borrowed the idea to have training camp in La Jolla, Calif., this season from Kerr. Thibodeau watched practices two years ago when the Warriors trained not far from a home Kerr owns there and Thibodeau took a year’s sabbatical from coaching.
“I guess he liked what he saw,” Kerr said. “It’s a great setup for practice and a pretty nice place to be.”
• It took the Wolves more than 75 minutes by bus to get from their San Francisco hotel over the Bay Bridge to Oakland before Wednesday’s game. Maybe they should have taken BART public transportation. Kerr’s image was captured by a Twitter poster while traveling on it Tuesday. “That bridge is no fun,” Kerr said. “BART is the way to go.”
• Members of the Wolves’ front office traveling on this three-game trip, which includes a game Saturday in Phoenix, intend to attend the Iowa Wolves’ game in Prescott, Ariz., on Thursday night. Their new G League team is 1-1 after Tuesday’s 109-91 loss to the L.A. Clippers’ Agua Caliente team in California.
• Injured rookie Justin Patton has progressed in his running on a foot surgically repaired last July, but hasn’t yet been cleared for 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 contact drills, Thibodeau said Wednesday. “Not yet,” Thibodeau said, “but he’s getting close, though.”