Las Vegas Summer League: Timberwolves 81, D-League Select 83

Steve McPherson —  July 13, 2013 — 16 Comments

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Here’s what an NBA Summer League game can give you a clear picture of: nothing. Put together a couple of Wolves rookies (Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng), a guy who played overseas last year (Robbie Hummel), the brother of a hot-shooting Golden State Warrior (Mychel Thompson—who didn’t even see the floor), an assistant coach’s son (Luke Sikma) and a squadron of guys looking for enough burn to catch someone’s eye and you have a complete lack of what makes a team be about something. An NBA team is a conglomeration of approaches, toolsets, hopes and dreams, all angled (hopefully with some precision) towards the goal of becoming something greater than the sum of their parts. A Summer League team is the mismatched toolbox you found in the basement when you moved into the first house you bought. It might get the job done, but that’s about it.

So in a game that ping-ponged back and forth with the Wolves jumping out to an early lead with a 22-11 first quarter, then wilting in a 21-11 second quarter before everyone settled in for what ended up being a reasonably tight and entertaining game down the stretch, what did we see?

Shabazz Muhammad
Shabazz (will we ever be able to refer to him as Muhammad or is he doomed to a single named existence?) was reasonably solid. The good news is that he didn’t appear to be greedy, nor to be pressing, not to give up or not care at the end of the game. He finished with 7 points on 3-7 shooting; not highly efficient but also not just throwing them up. He tallied just one assist, but that was one more than many seemed to expect out of him, and it was on a beautiful bang-bang play that looked buttery smooth, the ball swinging from the arc to Shabazz on the baseline to Lorenzo Brown under the hoop for the lay-in. After hitting his first 3 from the corner he cooled off and only made 1-3 from downtown. His shooting stroke, though, looked good and smooth.

Gorgui Dieng
Dieng didn’t make much of an impression aside from a pair of strong blocks and a nice two-handed dunk that seemed to take forever to happen. I doubt Dieng gets that much time to wind up and throw it down in the NBA, but he’s not out there for his offense. He didn’t clean the glass but looked to work hard physically for position, and it seemed like that positioning helped the Wolves outrebound the D-League Select team 36-26. Imagining him in a reserve role, I think he will fit in well to the backcourt as a rim protector and big body.

Robbie Hummel
Hummel impressed, particularly on a few screen plays that had him catching and shooting around the high elbow. He ended up with 12 points on 5-9 shooting and 6 rebounds from the small forward position, which is good, particularly on the boards. Those won’t be as easy to come by in the NBA, but still: there’s a chance that Hummel will be a nice end-of-the-bench player for an NBA team, although it’s not likely it’s going to be the Wolves.

Luke Sikma
He looks like a young Nick Nolte.

NolteSikma

Chris Johnson
Johnson finished the game with a double-double (11 pts and 10 rebs), befitting a player who made the jump from the D-League to the NBA last season and scored a guaranteed contract (although exactly how that all went down with Kahn signing him to a guaranteed deal is a little strange). The word on Johnson has been that he’s put on 15 lbs of muscle and is up to 230 now. He looked it. His legs might still be toothpicks, but his upper body looks filled out, and it should only help him hold position against bigger players. He also did this in warmups:

So that’s still cool.

Othyus Jeffers
This guy is relentless in getting to the rim, going 4-5 and ending with 8 points. It’s a great trait in a guard and he never seemed to shy away from bowling his way into the paint. Still, as Zach pointed out, he doesn’t really have a position, floating at 6’5” somewhere between a big SG and an undersized (but not particularly fast) SF. Regardless, I really liked his work rate.

And I guess that’s about it. Stefhon Hannah absolutely detonated for the D-League Select team, scoring 23 points on just 11 shots. That was pretty much all she wrote. Check back in with AWAW during the rest of Summer League for further updates from Zach Harper, who will be here for the next 11 days and hopefully not die.

Steve McPherson

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16 responses to Las Vegas Summer League: Timberwolves 81, D-League Select 83

  1. How did Brown look at point guard?

  2. Steve McPherson July 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Ah yes, Brown. He was intermittently effective and I believe he was the one responsible for getting the ball to Hummel on those nice screen plays. But that said, I can’t see him making any more impact than Malcolm Lee ever did on the Wolves.

  3. I hope Zach stays alive too…just sayin’

  4. I think I hear the Bee Gees playin’ in the background.

    Neither here nor there, but what’s up with Pek? Is he waiting on more money?

  5. Was really impressed with Shabazz he easily could have had 3 assists. He made some good bounce passes and his Defense was very solid. I hope every wolves fan and Analyst knows the guy could have gone into this game with the shoot first attitude and put up 15-20 ppg easily but like he said in an interview “people know I can score”..he knows he can score, but right now he is working on his weakness’s passing and defense. Love his attitude so far, i don’t expect much of him his rookie year but come the 2014 season I fully expect him to be battling for the starting SG and SF positions.

  6. The thing I really love about how Flip put the team together this year is neither (well none of the three) rookies are expected to do anything beyond what they earn in practice. There are no free rides to the starting lineup. I think that takes a ton of pressure off of them. Learn the system, earn playing time on the practice floor, perform in game.

    I should be looking forward more to the VIkes opening camp in less than two weeks but I can’t contain my excitement for what will be the first pro NBA team in MN since 2004.

  7. Well I bought some season tickets. Time to buckle the seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

  8. Is Brandon Paul seeing any playing time? I obviously am biased having watched him in college, but I thought he would be a 2nd round pick. Any chance he makes the roster?

  9. Assuming Pek signs his deal and stays in Minnesota, our starters at the four outside spots are pretty obvious with Ricky, Pek, and the two Kevins, but who do you guys think starts at the 3 spot? Budinger? Brewer? Or does Kevin Martin move to the three to allow room for Shved to start? Ideas?

  10. Steve McPherson July 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Shved is NOT starting. I can tell you that for absolutely sure. I won’t be surprised if Brewer starts, just for matchup reasons. Otherwise, you’re putting a lot of pressure on a second unit to score when it doesn’t have much in the way of shooters. I can see it changing as well, but I think starting lineup is Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, Pek.

  11. I am hoping Shved is more like the 10th man. I was not a huge fan of his game last year. Maybe it was just a case of him being a rookie, but nothing he does looks all that great. He is a ball stopper who can’t score all that well. He is also a minus on the defensive end. If he would embrace the role of facilitator I think he would be far more useful to the team.

  12. Depth Chart-wise how do we look?
    C: Pekovic – Turiaf – Dieng
    PF: Love – Cunningham/Turiaf – Williams
    SF: Brewer – Budinger/Muhammad – Williams
    SG: Martin – Budinger/Shved
    PG: Rubio – Shved

    Barea/C. Johnson/L. Brown inactive? Or do you think a big will sit in favor of JJ if he isn’t traded?

    ???

  13. It’s getting harder and harder to see where Derrick Williams goes in all of this. Does he back-up Love?

  14. Ummm. So how about some new content, a summer league wrap up perhaps?

  15. Regarding the rotation, who’s very likely to have a spot besides the obvious 6 (Rubio, Love, Pek, Martin, Budinger, Brewer): Cunningham and Barea. I’ve defended JJ several times in the past, but the important point is that Adelman trusts him and he provides a fearlessness and perseverance that Shved lacks while being statistically superior or similar. Some may not like that a 5’9 guy looks for his own shot first, but there’s nothing wrong with having a guy like that at the position that’s most difficult for an opponent to defend.

    Beyond that, it’s most likely that Adelman stays with 2 guys who play every game, regardless of the matchup. If that’s the case, it’s either Turiaf or Dieng (with Dieng likely to play if he shows he can keep up) and Shved because Adelman likes playing an above-average ballhandler at 3 of the 4 backcourt rotation spots. I could also see Williams replacing Shved or the backup C if he shows too much productivity to keep off the court. JJ and Shved are definitely not getting traded because they need PG depth more than at any other position.

  16. I am starting to wonder if Pek will just play under the qualifying offer and become unrestricted next year.

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