For as much as I was against Sam Mitchell at the beginning of the season, I believe he got a raw deal by Minnesota Timberwolves’ owner Glen Taylor.
My two big problems with Mitchell were: 1.) He didn’t seem to coach the players during games. Every time a mistake was made during a game, he would put his head down and sulk. 2.) He didn’t play Karl-Anthony Towns enough and it took him a long time to find the right starting lineup.
I will admit, in the long run, he was right and I was wrong. He knew what he was doing. The players, esepcially Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Towns really responded to him as the season progressed. Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng became productive, consistently reliable, in Dieng’s case, offensive players. And Nemanja Bjelica pulled his head out of the dirt and played very well the last two weeks of the season. And I mean “very well.”
I did have one other problem with Mitchell — the way he treated the media. That, too, wore off as the season came to a close. Maybe it was because the team started to win games that his attitude was better? I’m not totally sure. Or maybe it was because he loosened the reins on his young players and it took pressure off him trying to be perfect?
I wouldn’t have minded him coming back to coach next year, but Taylor has already fired him. In fact, Taylor fired Mitchell not long after Minnesota put up 144 points in its last game of the season, and just eight days removed from beating Golden State in Golden State.
Minnesota increased its win total by 13 (55.2 percent) from 2015, and if it increases it by another 13 wins next season, it will finish with 42 wins and over .500 for the first time in 13 years.
Mitchell also played 13 years in the NBA.
Something about that lucky No. 13.