2014 Offseason

Impressions of the Wolves' Open Scrimmage

In no particular order.

  • Zach LaVine was largely as advertised. Fast and athletic, there’s a kind of wide-eyed innocence about the way he moves with so much more purpose with the ball than without, about how he sort of habitually performs a little inside-out sizeup dribble when he’s squared up to his defender. Nerves were evident early on when he lost his grip on the ball on a drive, but he settled in, particularly once the game was called a tie and the dunking exhibition started. More on that in a moment.
  • Shabazz Muhammad showed a lot of the same gusto that was his calling card late in the season last year, going up hard for dunks and muscling his way into the lane for rebounds. He still loves the left block and that little jump hook, but that’s fine. Obviously, this pre-pre-pre-season is a time when players have to balance a desire to try new things or show their progression with the need to prove they can do what they’re good at consistently. It can be a tricky balancing act.

  • Gorgui Dieng was ill and didn’t play, although he’s expected to be back for practice tomorrow.
  • Alexey Shved is still very much a work in progress when it comes to being the primary ballhandler on the court, but I have to figure that just about anything is an upgrade over Barea in that role. It might be interesting to have two players (LaVine and Shved) both working on developing their work at the 1 since in many ways they’re similarly built players right now. I could definitely see a positive in them working together.
  • Afterwards, Saunders emphasized that one of the challenges for Shved as a point guard is being more vocal. He’s not very vocal, at all, in any way that I’ve ever seen, and the language doesn’t help, but he also just seems like a reticent guy. If he can get more comfortable talking, it might just work out.
  • Glenn Robinson III showed off some good athleticism and even some capable defense in spurts but he didn’t stand out a tremendous amount. No matter: he, along with Shved, Dieng and LaVine are the only players from this Summer League squad who will likely be on the Wolves’ roster this season. Saunders already indicated his disinclination to pick any more players after LaVine and Robinson because of how full the roster is (even though they promptly did not pick up options on Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers, dropping the roster from 14 down to 12).
  • Of the roster fillers, Jordan Morgan seemed most impressive, with a lot of athleticism. He probably fits into that difficult role of being a tweener (6-8, 250 lbs) without a signal basketball talent, but I could see him doing well in the NBDL and maybe bumping up onto a roster here or there during the season.
  • Kyrylo Fesenko was mostly hilarious, being nearly half a foot taller than the next tallest player on the floor and playing like it. Every chance he got, he was banging in under the basket, even when he whiffed on bunny after bunny. On one play, he threw an errant pass for a turnover that turned into a fast break dunk and he then turned to the ref and said, “That’s a foul.” He seems like a weird, benevolent version of Darko.
  • At one point, Fox Sports’ Phil Ervin opined that Fesenko looks like the Grinch. You decide:GrinchFesenko
  • The impromptu dunk contest: With the score tied at 71 and a few seconds left in the third ten-minute period, the coaches called the game and let the players show off with a back-and-forth dunk contest. And holy cow can LaVine ever get up. I swear he’s got airy little bird bones. He’s got tremendous control in the air and finished every (I think) dunk and alley-oop tossed his way with flair and authority. It doesn’t make him a good basketball player but it does make him fun to watch. Really great dunks still have the power to make me a little lightheaded, and seeing LaVine rip off through-the-leg dunks with ease was joyous and raucous and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • Robinson also showcased some serious hops. He will definitely be good for a couple highlight reel dunks this season as well.
  • Fesenko bricked dunk after dunk after dunk as the crowd cheered him on before finally slamming a windmill home after the whole thing had been called. The crowd erupted and it was kind of funny.
  • Speaking of the crowd, it was surprisingly robust for an open scrimmage, and even gave a standing ovation at the end. Minnesotans tendency to give a standing O for just about anything aside, it was a surprising and refreshing sight in the Target Center. It seems like the fans who were there are a little sick of all the Love drama and the mopiness that’s dragged the team down the last couple seasons. They want to see the future and have fun, and that’s what this was.
  • The diminutive Brady Heslip (who’s listed at 6-2 but looks a little more like 5-11) even threw down a dunk to the delight of the crowd to cap off the night.

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18 thoughts on “Impressions of the Wolves' Open Scrimmage

  1. “GRIII, along with Shved, Dieng and LaVine are the only players from this Summer League squad who will likely be on the Wolves’ roster this season.”

    You forgot Shabazz.

  2. Fesenko is a super frustrating player to root for, I watched him a lot down here in Utah. Every one here loves him. His physical skill set is absolutely amazing, but he never seems to care about getting better.

    David Thorpe worked with him a lot when he was younger and always said he had the talent to be a star, but was never sure he would take basketball serious enough.

  3. Almost every Love trade proposal I’ve seen has the Wolves taking back more players than they trade (which makes sense, considering Love’s salary). Maybe Flip is keeping the roster openings for that. If LBJ goes to Cleveland and Wiggins and Tristan Thompson are offered for Love, i think the Wolves have to take the deal at this point.

  4. Do you think Cleveland will offer Wiggins? I think they will try offering Waiters Thompson and picks because Irving and Waiters don’t get along

  5. Wiggins has to be in the deal. If there’s no way LeBron goes there without a Love deal, the Wolves have a lot more leverage than the Cavs. Waiters and Thompson haven’t shown enough to be considered prospects.

  6. They apparently offered the first overall pick, waiters, and Thompson for martin and love before the draft. That’s my guess for what the trade will stay. Wiggins, Waiters, and Thompson for Love and Martin.

  7. They offered waiters Bennett and a first round pick according to reports. Lebron didn’t mention wiggins in his memo

  8. Wiggins didn’t show a ton at Kansas but he definitely has to be involved with a Love trade and would be fun to find out what he has going for him. Wiggins, Waiters (a definite since he and Irving don’t care for each other) and maybe Varejao…or whatever pieces would be there to make salaries work

  9. Haha I told my buddy that if CLE wants Love my only hope would be Wiggins is the centerpiece of any deal and not Waiters or Bennett.

    So of course the first offer is Waiters, Bennett and a 1st rounder. Lol. One season of Love > 3 years of Waiters and Bennett

    Too bad Flip gave away Derrick Williams. If the inevitable Love deal would’ve happened, Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins and Williams could’ve been Lob City North (TM)

  10. Hahahahha gjk still cold toward D Will I see. I don’t think it would make sense to bring him back if they didn’t think he was good enough in he first place. Apparently ESPN is saying the Cavs told Waiters he wont be traded and Lebron in his letter said he wanted to play with Waiters Irving Thompson and Varajao. So all that is left is Bennett and picks xD. And apparently GS wont give up Klay still. :s Maybe they should look at the reported Denver offer? The Manimal and some other stuff?

  11. Not offering Wiggens to begin with is simply opening negotiation posturing and trying to see if the inexperienced Flip will blink. The Cavs know Wiggens has to be a part of the deal. As a matter of fact, now that Carmelo is going back to the Knicks I thought Love might be in play there. But with Noah already on the roster and Pau Gasol signing there, it still looks like Cleveland and Golden State. The Cleveland deal is much more attractive because it doesn’t involve David Lee. I see the deal being Wiggens, Waiters and Bennett (and maybe a #1) for Love and Kevin Martin.

  12. That is so true that Minnesotans love standing ovations. Makes one feel like a withholding jerk to be the one person not brought to their feet by a performance. ‘I’m not booing, it just wasn’t actually terrific!’

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