MIAMI -- Among the baskets Dwyane Wade scored against the defense of Andrew Wiggins in the final four minutes Saturday were a 19-foot baseline jumper that took some of the tension out of a surprisingly close finish, and a clean split of the pick-and-roll that ended in a two-handed dunk that sealed Miami’s 102-92 win over the Timberwolves.
The No. 1 draft pick could’ve learned plenty just watching Wade close out the young Timberwolves, finishing with 25 points, eight assists and two steals.
But the greatest takeaway for Wiggins came when Wade approached the rookie after the game and offered a few words of encouragement (no, they didn’t spend any time badmouthing LeBron James for abandoning each of them).
“He asked me if I wanted to be great,” Wiggins said of his postgame exchange with Wade. “I said yes. He said I’ve got all the tools to be great, just keep working.”
Wiggins had his second double-figure scoring effort (10) but was 3-of-9 with one rebound and two assists. It was consistent with Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders’ description of Wiggins pregame, when he said the rookie can be “spectacular” at times but too often has “wasted minutes.”
It didn’t help that Wiggins, 19, wasn’t even the youngest starter on his team Saturday. Zach LaVine, younger than Wiggins by 15 days, started in place of Ricky Rubio, who suffered a severe sprain to his left ankle. Saunders said he started LaVine ahead of Mo Williams because LaVine projects as an important piece to the franchise’s future.
As is Wiggins, of course. And those few seconds he spent with Wade after the final whistle were hardly a waste.
“Those words at the end of the game just motivate me,” Wiggins said. "Already I'm thinking about what he said, and it’s going to carry through for a long time now.
“He’s one of the people I watched growing up, one of the people I idolized. That guy right there is great.”