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Ryan Saunders hoping to unlock a consistently engaged Andrew Wiggins

Minnesota Timberwolves interim head coach Ryan Saunders is hoping to unlock a more consistent Andrew Wiggins in the midst of a disappointing fifth season in the league. Wiggins was given a beefy four-year, $147.7 million extension of his rookie contract in 2017, but so far has failed to deliver. Wiggins has regressed in nearly every statistical category after posting a career-best 23.6 points per game in 2016-17.

The guard was under heavy criticism entering this season, ranging from his reported issues with Jimmy Butler to his unforeseen regression after progressing in each of his first three seasons in the league.

Per Chris Hine of The Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“We always say an engaged Andrew Wiggins is a very good Andrew Wiggins,” said Saunders, who watched Wiggins go off for a season-high 40 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday to net him the first win of his coaching career. “So the more we can keep him engaged, especially early in the game when he’s running with everything, the better.”

“I just felt like I was getting better,” Wiggins said. “I didn’t know I was going to have a game like that, but I felt like I was getting better, more comfortable on the floor. Back to how it was a couple years ago. Being aggressive, staying aggressive and asserting myself in different ways.”

The Timberwolves doled out a similarly-meaty extension to Karl-Anthony Towns this offseason and have now made him the face of the franchise. But Minnesota will need Wiggins to act as a franchise player as well, if the Wolves are to make another postseason run.

Saunders has been a refreshing change and may be able to help inspire young guys like Towns, Wiggins, and Josh Okogie to tap into their full potential.