Q&A: Flip Saunders

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Sunday, December 14, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of Michael Rand

Q Magic Johnson the other day said he hopes the Lakers lose all their games. What do you make of that mentality?
A I’m never a proponent to just say tank games or lose games. You’re letting players off the hook. Depending on who you have out there, you might not have to worry about it. … I know what Magic is saying, and I’m sure it’s how most people look at it: If you’re not going to be a playoff team, you’re better off getting as high a (draft) pick as you can.

Q You were going to go through a fair amount of struggle this season even before some of your established players were hurt. Is it all good in terms of development or is there danger?
A From a management standpoint, it’s great. From a coaching standpoint, it’s not so good. … You have a young player who makes a mistake and you want to take them out of the game, and you might not have that luxury. They’re learning, a lot of times, on the fly. That’s why, a lot of times, we’ve played better after practices.
Q A lot of the focus has been on Andrew Wiggins because he was the No. 1 overall pick. At what point should we expect to see the kind of performance, consistently, that he delivered in Wednesday’s win over Portland?
A He’s been coming on like that, and we’ve been challenging him. I even see it in practice. He’s been much more confident and comfortable in what we’re trying to do. We’ve changed some things we’re doing. We went through this thing, until last week since we had lost Ricky, we’d had six practices. We’ve had a chance to change now how we play and utilize him and [Shabazz Muhammad] a little more.

Q It was a much different team last year. Did not playing much hamper the development of guys like Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, who are showing promise this season?
A I don’t know if it set them back. It probably made them respect the game more and the time they’re given. That’s one of the things I worried about when we had all the injuries [this season], that the young guys would have to play no matter what and wouldn’t respect playing time. That bench over there is a great learning tool.

Q Everybody makes a big deal about three-pointers. The Wolves give up a lot of them and don’t make many of them. I’m not here to question what you’re doing, but do you see Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins eventually becoming guys who can shoot consistently from that distance?
A [Wiggins], right now, is leading us. He will, when he gets more confident. And Zach can shoot. Zach’s biggest thing is he’d be a much better three-point shooter if he was off the ball. Right now he’s on the ball trying to run the team, not knowing when he should shoot it. … We’re doing the right things, and eventually when Ricky [Rubio] comes back we’ll get into a flow and guys will be able to make threes.