Wolves Notes: Thoughts on Flip Saunders’ Grantland Interview


Yesterday, Grantland’s Zach Lowe posted an insightful and informative Q&A with Wolves coach Flip Saunders. Do yourself a favor and read the whole piece.

Among other things, we learned that Kevin Garnett will be a starter next year, that Flip has considered having former Sacramento head coach Mike Malone replace him, and that the CBA was kind of nuts.

Below are some quotes from Flip that stood out to me…

"The first thing you have to do to establish yourself is be able to post up inside and score or get fouled. We did the same thing with KG when he was 18 [as we did last with Andrew Wiggins]. Then teams can’t put a smaller guy on you who is fast enough to take away your perimeter game. You chase those smaller guys off the court."

This was always my read on what Saunders meant when he said that he didn’t want Wiggins taking too many threes.  I think he’s right, too.  Wiggins will benefit greatly from having learned to go hard inside, finish, and draw a bunch of fouls.  Which he did.

There’s also an analogy here to how John Calipari handled Karl-Anthony Towns last year.  Towns came to Kentucky as more of a perimeter player, but Calipari forced him to play mostly inside.  That paid big dividends as Towns raised his post game by several notches over the course of the season.

Rick Rubio and Andrew Wiggins will be cornerstones of Flip Saunders’ 2015-16 Wolves squad. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

"I think [Ricky Rubio will] be an adequate shooter. He has such an impact doing other things, he doesn’t need to be a great shooter. He just needs to knock down 18-footers, and maybe some corner 3s."

Partial credit here.  Flip is right that Rubio doesn’t need to be a great shooter, which is nice because he won’t ever be.  I do think Rubio’s shot was better at the beginning of last year, however, and he’s good at so many other things.

But I cringe when I see talk about the importance of 18-footers.  It’s great if players can hit them, but they’re just not good shots to have to take.  A deep two should be as far down the option list as Teddy Bridgewater dumping off a short pass to Zach Line.

If Ricky can improve his mid-range game, that will be helpful.  It will be even more helpful if he can become a reliable three-point shooter and finisher around the basket.

"Do we need to make 3s? No question. I think Andrew will become an adequate 3-point shooter. The bottom line is, you have what you have. If your best players aren’t 3-point shooters, you can’t just make them 3-point shooters."

The problem with this is that Saunders acquired most of the players on the current roster.  It’s no longer David Kahn’s fault that the Wolves don’t have enough good three-point shooters.  To be fair, they have several guys who may become good at it, but it still doesn’t seem to be a point of great emphasis.

"Here’s what KG told our players: If you’re coming to camp on September 29, and you’re coming with the idea that we’re not going to make the playoffs, don’t even bother coming in."

The Wolves aren’t going to make the playoffs, but this is just what you want to see.  Not every team has a vocal leader like Garnett, and we can see here why Flip traded to get him back.

"[In the CBA] we’d have promotions where if a fan hit a half-court shot, they could win $7,500, and we couldn’t pay them. Figuratively, someone makes that, and you have to sell a player to pay that guy."

How great is that, especially following on a story about how he won a couple of CBA championships by fleecing other GMs after getting them drunk?  Wild West, baby.  They ought to make it into a movie.

Again, go read the full piece.  Then come back this weekend for another “No Frills T’Wolves” podcast with Ben Beecken and me.  And follow us on Twitter why dontcha?

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