MILWAUKEE -- Ahead of the 2019-20 NBA season, ESPN rolled out its annual list of the top 100 players in the league.
Absent from it was Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, who doesn't agree.
"I don't really look at that too much, top 100 or not top 100," Wiggins told ESPN. "There's not 100 players better than me, so it doesn't matter what people think. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My job is to come out here and hoop, and that's what I'm going to do."
Wiggins, 24, is looking to have a breakout Year 6 after having heard criticism throughout his career concerning his effort, most notably after agreeing to a $147.7 million max contract extension in 2017. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists on a career-low 41.2% shooting during the 2018-19 season, which was more focused on the public criticism and trade demands of former teammate Jimmy Butler, the firing of head coach Tom Thibodeau and a "personal" element, which he wouldn't detail, but he claims he's ready to put those issues behind him.
"I would say I enjoy it more than I did last year because last year was a rough start," Wiggins said. "The joy has always been there. I've never been on the court and not wanted to play."
Since being drafted No. 1 overall by Cleveland in 2014, only to be traded a couple of months later to Minnesota as part of a deal involving Kevin Love, Wiggins has played for four different coaches.
"It's not an excuse to say it altered my play too much," Wiggins said. "Every coach is different, every coach has different playing styles but no coach made me have a negative experience playing."
Current Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders is entering his first full season as head coach with a reshaped front office led by president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, a former Houston Rockets executive.
It helps that Saunders does have a personal relationship with Wiggins.
"I don't necessarily think about how support has been, I just can only support in my own way and that's continuing to be how I am with Andrew," Saunders said. "I've known him since he was a teenager. We've had big life moments. The guy was at my wedding, he let me know when he was gonna be a father.
"There's things that connects you on a deeper level than just being there for somebody on the basketball court," he continued. "Those conversations with players, I just like to keep to us."
Reestablishing the value of Wiggins with $122 million left on his contract over the next four years after pushing through numerous head coaches will certainly be something to watch in Minnesota this season under the new regime. However, Wiggins would rather prove his worth on the court rather than tell it through the media.
"Everyone is counting pockets. Some people are mad about, some people are happy for you," Wiggins told ESPN. "That's how the world goes especially when you've got something they don't have or do something they don't do. That's how the world goes.
"Even when I averaged almost 24 points and got the max deal people were still saying stuff," he added. "Look at max players and some max players don't average as much, but it is what it is. I'm just trying to get right, get back on track."
Work like a Captain.
Play like a Pirate.