Media got let into the gym with about 15-20 minutes left in a scrimmage between the A Team (no Mr. T) and the B Team. As I sat down, someone who was already in the gym leaned over to me and said, “By the way, that score is not a scoreboard malfunction.”
The B Team was wiping the floor with the A Team. They were up 20 points on them. By the time the clock on the scrimmage had run out, the final score was the B Team winning by 12 but even some late execution by the A Team wasn’t nearly enough to erase a deficit. There’s some good and some bad in the “other players” pushing the “main players” so much. It’s good to see adversity, no matter how irrelevant it might be a couple weeks from now, for the main unit of guys who should be dominating these scrimmage based on talent. To see how they respond in Day 3 of training camp will be very interesting.
“Well, I think all of our young guys are playing really hard,” Rick Adelman said after practice on Wednesday. “They just kicked the tails of our nine guys who are going to play a lot. They got killed in the first quarter against our young guys because they played their tails off.”
Guys like Lorenzo Brown, Dante Cunningham, Othyus Jeffers, Chris Johnson, and Shabazz Muhammad were scrambling all over the court, swiping down in the post, and causing the kind of havoc you’d hope from a second unit. They were catching the Wolves’ top guys off guard with offensive rebounding, lob plays, and just executing the basics on both ends of the floor. You saw the usual frustration out of guys like Kevin Love and J.J. Barea, who took a couple of chances to plead to the referees that they needed to call certain things.
Thursday, the Wolves’ starters will have a chance to take it out on the young guys. Here’s a look at a couple of notes I took while watching the scrimmage moments I got to see:
- Heard immediately when talking to some people around the team that Pek was destroying for the first half of practice. He cleared space, dominated every matchup thrown at him, and looked incredible.
- Got to see Gorgui Dieng and Chris Johnson protect the rim quite a bit. Dieng rotated over and timed a blocked layup perfectly at one point.
- One nice offensive execution I saw: Pek was posted up on the left block. As he turned into the lane, the defense helped down and he kicked it out to the opposite wing on the right side. Rubio caught the pass and before the defense could even start running toward him, he gave a nice touch pass to Corey Brewer in the corner. Brewer knocked down the three from the right corner.
- I was told that Brewer struggled with his shot early in practice on Wednesday but heated up during the second half.
- There was a point when Rubio ran a pick-and-roll on the left side with Pek on the wing. Rubio, dribbling toward the middle of the floor, came around the screen and pulled up immediately from 18 feet to knock down the jumper. Form looked great and less awkward than when he’s spotting up.
- Derrick Williams looked good when he wasn’t trying to create off the dribble in tight spaces.
- Love went to the pump fake a lot in the post.
- Rubio and Love ran a couple of excellent pick-and-pop threes.
- Gorgui Dieng tried to create from the perimeter as the shot clock ran down. I’ll let you guess whether or not they got a shot off.
If the Wolves are going to pick up a 15th player for the roster right now, here’s how the power rankings would go for most likely to stay (based on a couple of impressions):
1. Othyus Jeffers. His defense and versatility, along with his communication on defense, seem to be winning people over. His attitude is also incredible and he does and says all the right things so far.
2. Lorenzo Brown. He apparently killed throughout most of the scrimmage yesterday. If he can get his jumper to fall, he may be the guy.
3. Robbie Hummel. They love his versatility at the 3 and 4, but they already have quite a few forwards on the roster.
4. A.J. Price. He had a good stretch at one point in a drill or scrimmage in which he created a lot of points. But I just don’t think his lack of versatility will be overlooked.
Again, those are just my guesses on where it stands. I have a lot of thoughts on how Shabazz Muhammad has taken to the early parts of preseason. He’s getting rave reviews from a lot of different players, but I’ll break that out for an additional post either tonight or tomorrow based on what happens at practice today.