Timberwolves Scrimmage it Out

Benjamin Polk —  October 1, 2010 — 15 Comments

Photo by MiQ

It what will most likely be their most evenly contested game of the season, the Wolves matched up against themselves on Wednesday night in Mankato. In case you missed it and had money on the line, the Black team beat the White team 77-67. Whites all over Minnesota are reportedly inconsolable. (Check out some pretty dizzying highlights right here).

In any case, Kurt Rambis was pleased with the proceedings, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune:

“It was great…Guys got tired, but there were an awful lot of good things on both ends of the floor out there. They were focused. They were trying to run the offense.”

I guess the fact that they “were trying to run the offense” is a good sign? Wesley Johnson was, evidently, particularly impressive. Here’s Ray Richardson at the Pioneer Press:

Rookie forward Wes Johnson, battling back from a nagging hamstring injury, might have been at the top of Rambis’ list. Johnson, the No. 4 pick in the draft, displayed a smooth shooting touch, knocking down several outside shots within the framework of Rambis’ triangle offense.

“It felt really good to be out there competing,” Johnson said. “I hadn’t played in a game since July (rookie summer league in Las Vegas). I’m trying to learn this offense at a fast pace, but I’m getting it.”

Strangely, Kosta Koufos is also turning heads and not just for his amazing neck beard. Here’s Zgoda again:

Koufos sure looked as if he was trying to impress somebody. Little more than a salary dump when the Utah Jazz included him in the Al Jefferson trade, he was the most lively center in a group that also includes Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic.

It would be really funny if Koufos ended up stealing minutes from Darko this year. Its like when we spent more money than I’d like to admit on a garlic press and still wound up chopping the garlic the old fashioned way. Darko being the garlic press in the analogy, obviously.

Ok, get ready for some other news:

I’ve never been more excited to start a training camp.  Training camp is always been something that you want to skip but I’m so excited…I go from being in a Toyota to a Bentley. Its a beautiful thing.

That’s wonderful, Al, I’m simply thrilled for you. I’d like to point out that a) the Jazz are hardly a Bentley and b) Toyota’s are fine automobiles indeed. Seriously though, I’m glad Big Al is in a better place.

  • The Timberwolves have reported a new “corporate partnership” with Sanford Health which will take the shape of, among other things, a huge billboard on the Target Center. Is it weird to anyone else that a giant regional HMO would want to spend a huge amount of money sponsoring the Wolves?
  • Demarr Johnson has been waived. You’re safe for now, Maurice Ager and Jason Hart.

Benjamin Polk

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15 responses to Timberwolves Scrimmage it Out

  1. I do remember seeing that Al Jeff quote a month or two ago; it was whenever the Jazz had their fan party/players on catwalk thing. Jerry Sloan was smiling in the coverage I saw–I know. I’m trying to tamp down any feelings of irrational exuberance (was Greenspan a Wolves fan?), but knowing what I know now that I’m older, compared to last year, things have to be better. No Stewie, Baby Shaq, Clear-as-a-color, or Damien Wilkins as a starter are all good things to me. No Sasha Pav is a great thing. Telfair is back? Whut? No longer rock bottom baby!

  2. Still completely disagree with your take on Darko

    even if he is merely solid he will be so worth the price

  3. The Inevitable Muck-up October 1, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I agree with Justin. The average price of a starting center in the NBA is between 7.8 and 8.4 million a year. Even if Darko doesn’t pan out we’re paying less than 10 mil for Darko, Pek and Koufos combined. Somebody will pan out. Same for every position on this team. We may not be on the fast track, but this team (down the road) is way better than the one that McFail left us with.

  4. I would say that I’m agnostic on the Darko signing. I agree that his salary is not nearly as outrageous as people have made it out to be–my only point was that it would be funny if Koufos, whose owed about a third of what Darko is over the next two years and was basically a throw-in in the Big Al trade, ends up taking minutes from him.

  5. Um…best post ever. If you could do me a favor and kitchen-utensilize the rest of the roster I would be grateful.

  6. A Bentley? Hahahahaha!!

  7. I think Darko could be a huge plus to both Pek’s and Koufos’ development in the sense that Darko is what he is (thus far), and that is a solid NBA starting center. From everything I’ve read and heard about his play at the scrimmage (thank you TWolves tech crew for not getting the video up and running!), Darko was just really solid. Not great, but not bad. On a team where Darko is, what, the second oldest player (and just for some perspective, Darko is 4 months YOUNGER than Joakim Noah), dependable center play – especially on the defensive end of the floor – is something that will really help this young, young team. The honest truth is that we don’t need Darko to score anything more than what Rambis said in one of his interviews (which is to take/make the shots the defense is giving him and not pass it away).

    Having a solid, dependable guy taking on the Pau’s, the Bynum’s, the Big Al’s, the Nene’s, the Yao’s, the Kaman’s, the Biedrins of the NBA lets Pek and Koufos go against lesser caliber players, which in theory should give them more success and confidence and let them grow more at their own pace instead of suddenly having Pek have to defend Pau and then have Koufos come in and defend Bynum (to cherry pick some players to make my point).

    I’ve written on this a bit over at CH, but Darko’s effective experience on the court is actually not that much. In total minutes played he’s essentially equivalent to a third year starter, given that OJ Mayo is only something like 250 minutes behind him in career minutes played, and if you take away last year’s playing time Darko is roughly equivalent with Noah’s PT his first three years and Dwight Howard’s PT his first two years. I find myself thinking that Darko is some old veteran and not a young guy himself, but the fact is that there still could be some pretty great upside to him. Did I mention that he’s younger than Noah? I still have trouble wrapping my mind around that.

    I’ve got a question for Ben Polk – what are your thoughts on Wes at SG? Doable? Could he excel there? I’m assuming that Martell gets the starting nod to open the season there – might as well protect Wes a little from facing the Kobe’s of the world right off the bat. Also, any inside scoops on how Love is handling the Beasley love? Love didn’t sound like he did much at the scrimmage, but I was wondering if that was because he was working on other aspects of his game?

    Lastly, I love the competitive spirit of this team. They just seem like they care so much more than last year’s team. I suppose they haven’t lost 20 games in a row yet, but so far the strategy of bringing in a ton of guys with a lot to prove is working out well for all of them.

  8. Biggity,

    First of all, thanks for the excellent, detailed comments of late. These are great points about Darko, Pek and Kofous. The thing that I’ve been most impressed by this offseason is that the Wolves seem to understand that building young, athletic depth at every position is indispensable. This seems to be in keeping with that philosophy.

    On that note, to answer your question. For me, one of the great virtues of the Rambis offense, in both its half and full court variations is positional interchangeability. Especially offensively, the distinctions between, say, the 2 and the 3 are not hugely salient. So I definitely think that Wes would do fine at either wing position in this offense, especially if he improves his ballhandling. Defensively, I certainly agree that you probably won’t want to throw him out there against the Kobes and Wades of the world right off the bat. But in the little I’ve seen him play as a pro I could certainly see him doing some things defensively against, like, Kevin Martin or Jamal Crawford, for example. To tell you the truth, I’m a bit more concerned about how he’ll do against the physically stronger 3′s in the league–guys like Pierce and Maggette, to say nothing of Melo (if he even plays this year) and the guy in Miami.

    As for Love and Beasley. Because training camp is in Mankato and I have to, y’know, go to work and stuff, I really haven’t had a chance to see them interact much. I know that Love was playing with a sore knee at the scrimmage and so wasn’t really at his best. In general, I don’t get the sense that Love is really concerned about getting attention. He’s had lots of experience playing with splashier players. It seems like he cares most about getting recognition from teammates and coaches and simply having the chance to play and do his thing. I don’t really foresee him getting jealous of Beasley.

    Thanks again for the great comment.

    bp

  9. I don’t know, Mike Beasley as a salad spinner?

  10. “the Black team beat the White team 77-67. Whites all over Minnesota are reportedly inconsolable”

    lol

    What makes a bad team bearable? Blogosphere jokes…

  11. Here’s my thing Ben Polk….

    If Kofus ends up being a 12/8/1.5 center and starts over Darko…do we care? We should be thrilled WE HAVE A STARTING CENTER! and I think that is the point….since I’ve been alive the Wolves have never had anything close to a decent starting center and if we have three we all think have a chance to be alright possibly even the mythed about starting center, and one turns out to become that I think I will gladly pay Darko 5 mil a year to find that out

    which again is why I don’t get the Khan bashing either….for example if Martell Webster out plays Wes Johnson and becomes a 18 ppg defensive stud, and Wes never starts for us was that a bad draft pick? No, because Khan/Rambis made it their goal to get a starting wing player this offseason who is athletic, can play d, and can score and they got that. They built competition and competition brings out the best in all of us

  12. I’m not sure in what world the conventional wisdom on darko (or his is-ness, if you will) is that he’s a “solid NBA starting center.”

    He’s barely gotten off the bench in a 7-year career. One half season of above average play for a team that won two games over that period doesn’t mean he’s suddenly been transformed into a “solid” starting center. He needs to do it over 82 games, or even 55 to 60 games, before we can start throwing that kind of modest praise his way. He was, after all, almost out of the league last year. Let’s hope though for the Wolves sake and our sanity that he lives up to this kind of billing.

  13. I personally think the biggest crime Khan made was not hiring a coach first because he made a handful of decisions (Hollins, Sessions, Flynn, not trading Jefferson) because he didn’t know what kinda coach he would have. Since Rambis arrival it seems that he has had a pretty seemless flow of players he has brought that fit the style of ball Rambis wants to play

  14. bobbyplease

    if Darko averages 9 ppg and like 7 boards that is pretty decent considering how bad the drop on NBA Centers is

    and Darko has shown he “can” do that

  15. I’m gonna be honest here and will maybe catch some flack but whatever… I’m first and foremost a Lakers fan and have been for a really long time. But, I’ve always watched the T-Wolves and obviously, the fact that Rambis is with you guys makes it even more intriguing. And I’ll just say this about the center situation – you guys have some serious depth now. You got a lot of size, guys that fit in a half-court and guys than can run. And it seems that any knock on Darko or Kouf or any of the other bigs has to be put into perspective… you’ve got a lot of bigs on your roster and you should be able to have some real effective rotations at the 4&5.

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