In Wednesday’s Timberwolves victory at San Antonio, Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points, got to the free-throw line 14 times, had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Thus ended the best month of his NBA career.
In 11 games in November — he missed three games due to a death in the family, a stretch in which the Wolves went 1-2 — Wiggins scored 27.1 points per game, made 48.3% of his shots overall and 39.5% of his three-pointers. He also averaged 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 blocks.
Much has been made of Wiggins buying into the Wolves offense, which shuns the midrange jumper in favor of shots around the rim and from behind the three-point line. Also, coach Ryan Saunders’ decision to shuffle the starting lineup, having Jeff Teague come off the bench and giving Wiggins more on-ball responsibilities, has been a factor.
But Wiggins’ contributions up and down the stat sheet are impressive. In 12 games in February 2017, he averaged 28.8 points, making more than half his shots. But he didn’t shoot the three as much or as often and didn’t have the rebound or assist numbers he had the past month.
Was it his best month? “I’d say the impact he’s had on the offensive end, as well as the defensive end,” Saunders said. “And then the winning impact. That’s where I judge how successful his month has been.”
Even after he came back from his time off, when his shot wasn’t quite right, Wiggins still contributed.
“Just because my shot’s not falling doesn’t mean I can’t help a team in other ways. I feel that’s what makes someone important to the team,” he said.
Wiggins scored at least 21 points in all 11 games he played in during November. He scored 30 or more four times, and had 40 points in an overtime victory over Golden State.
In his sixth season, to so dramatically change his game for the better is rare.
“It is the culmination of a number of things that we went through as a team,” Saunders said. “And also things Andrew was able to gain confidence from. Late in games he’s taken big shots, he’s had big rebounds. And when those translate into winning, it always helps.”
Homecoming for Tyus
Sunday marked the return to Target Center for guard Tyus Jones, the Apple Valley product who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Wolves. Jones, who signed a free-agent contract with Memphis — an offer sheet the Wolves, wanting salary cap flexibility going forward, didn’t match — started for the Grizzlies with Ja Morant injured.
Greeted warmly by the crowd, Jones finished with 12 points, four rebounds and seven assists.
“I’ve always appreciated the support I’ve received from everyone in Minnesota,” he said. “Coming through high school, and even when I went off to college at Duke and being back here for my first four years in the league. It’s been nothing but love from the fans.”
It’s been a big, big year for Jones. His mother, Debbie, who had been battling breast cancer, was declared cancer-free in October. Jones has gotten engaged, and a baby is on the way.
Sunday, Jones said he had “double digits” when it came to family and friends attending the game. He also had about 70 players and family from the local AAU team he sponsors.
“It’s been a blessing,” Jones said. “From signing with a different team, new city, getting engaged, baby on the way now. It’s been a bunch of great news. I’m thankful for each and every day.”
• Center Naz Reed was recalled from Iowa of the G League.
• Forward Jake Layman (toe sprain) missed his fifth consecutive game. Guard Shabazz Napier (hamstring) returned after missing 12 games.