Archives For 2013 Preseason

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Ah, training camp. A time when the heady mix of a long-forgotten feeling merges with the barely-glimpsed ghost of actual on-court play to create its own admixture of hope and anxiety about the future. Take that, Deadspin.

But seriously: Practice ran long yesterday, resulting in a clutch of media perched by the front window of the Taylor Center on the lovely (no, seriously, the autumn colors were lovely) campus of Mankato State University and doing things like this: Continue Reading…

The title of this post is a lie. I haven’t stopped worrying, nor have I learned to love preseason rankings. But I guess I grudgingly understand why they’re there. Because following basketball closely — and I don’t mean your favorite team, but the whole thing — through its annual cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is a lot like breaking up with a serious girlfriend every year. Like a five-year relationship compressed and injected into nine months.

It all begins with such promise in November and you don’t really know what’s going on or where it’s going but you just want to enjoy it. So you try to relax into it, thinking how all you’ve got is time. But then it starts getting serious. You stop taking it as it comes and start wondering where it’s going. And then, just like that, it’s over. This is June. Continue Reading…

Wolves and friends

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: Continue Reading…

DWilliamsChange

It makes sense that Derrick Williams’ weight over the last year has been fluctuating so much because he’s being treated like a prizefighter that can’t decide on a weight class.

The 2011 No. 2 pick has been trying to find his place on an NBA court since he entered the league and joined the Minnesota Timberwolves. With the team already employing the best power forward in the NBA, his place in the rotation has been spotty at best. He’s been fighting for minutes while reshaping his body to give him a better chance of being a versatile, multi-positional player that Rick Adelman can’t look past when he’s looking down the bench for the next substitution. Heading into camp last year, Williams had dropped some weight in hopes of becoming a small forward next to Love. That idea only lasted for a short while. Continue Reading…

Brew

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were sporting the white side of the practice jerseys against a team of J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Robbie Hummel, Derrick Williams, and Dante Cunningham.

As media availability for the first practice of training camp began, the likely starting lineup for the Wolves to begin the regular season was actually losing to a second unit by a few points. With Jack Sikma reminding Nikola Pekovic that he was going to have to leave the key some time on offense to avoid a violation, the starting Wolves set up their offense. There was some motion across the lane and Pek found himself defended on the block by Cunningham. Because of his strength and size advantages, Pek had deep post position as he received the post-entry pass from Brewer. Immediately, Williams dropped down from the wing to double up on Pek.

Pekovic absorbed the double-team’s attention, kicked it right back out to Brewer, who was waiting on the left win above the break, and the Wolves had a spot-up 3-point attempt rip through the net. This was the first bit of training camp action that I got to see from the Wolves and it nearly knocked me deeper into my seat. Healthy players. Kick-out passes to shooters that resulted in points. This seemed like a pretty cool way to kill some time in Mankato Tuesday afternoon.  Continue Reading…

Bud

Chase Budinger had successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, according to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dr. James Andrews performed a meniscectomy on Budinger to remove the damaged meniscus. Here is the press release from the Wolves:  Continue Reading…

Brown and Jeffers pics by @jermcon, Hummel pic from USATSI

Brown and Jeffers pics by @jermcon, Hummel pic from USATSI

Time to do a little housecleaning with Media Day on Monday and training camp in Mankato starting on Tuesday. The team has added players to the roster for training camp purposes and three of the four names are pretty familiar to fans. The Minnesota Timberwolves announced yesterday that they signed three players. Those three players were the 2013 second round pick Lorenzo Brown, Othyus Jeffers from the summer league squad, and 2012 second round pick Robbie Hummel. From the team’s press release:  Continue Reading…

BareaInquisitive

With a couple days until the Minnesota Timberwolves kick off their 2013 Media Day and officially get going on starting the new season, we’re still finding things to pass the time. Some people may be doing it with Grand Theft Auto V or even by reading my Rabbit Hole posts on CBSSports.com (shameless plug!). Some people are wrapped up in the NFL season and the close of the baseball season. And some of us are ranking players on various platforms.

ESPN.com is pumping out the NBARank project right now with more than 100 bloggers, writers, and media pundits giving each player a score on a scale of 1 to 10. Then those scores are averaged out for each player and that’s how we get their rank. There are 500 players ranked each season and it gives an interesting look into how the collective can come to certain conclusions about every player around the league. It doesn’t make the rankings definitive by any means but it certainly gives you a good idea of how the basketball coverage community views the players.

NBARank is past the halfway point in the rankings, so I thought it might be a good idea to check out which Wolves players fell from 190-500. Again, these rankings are not definitive and you’ll find that some players just don’t get paid attention to by the collective, leading to a ranking that is often too low for some guys. But this will kill some time so let’s check out some of the Wolves players.  Continue Reading…

Bud

We were all having such a nice time. The weekend is almost upon us, Media Day is on Monday, training camp starts on October 1, and then the Wolves dropped this in our laps:

Hooray! Just in case you forgot, Budinger tore his meniscus in his left knee last season. Timberwolves PR added in a follow-up tweet that “Budinger to visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, AL early next week. An update to his status will be provided after that examination.”

Two things: 1.) This is lame. 2.) Don’t panic.

I know: I know. It’s hard not to when last season was picked over by the vultures of injury like a broken body in the desert, but you need to keep in mind that every team has players that get injured every season (well, Granger aside, not the Pacers) and that the Wolves were not going to get off scot-free just because they rang up such a huge injury surplus last season. We don’t know the extent of the injury or the exact nature of it.

So let’s talk impact: If Budinger misses some time, it likely solidifies the starting rotation as Rubio / Martin / Brewer / Love / Pek. And hey: That’s not awful. There was always the possibility that that would be the starting lineup anyways in order to provide shooting punch off the bench and defense for the starters. The Wolves’ roster is more balanced this year than last, and they can absorb some hits like this along the way. It’s important to remember that every team needs to if they’re going to be in the hunt for the postseason.

But let me also put a sympathetic arm around you. If you panicked at this news, it’s because you’re suffering from a mild form of PTSD called PTSSD (Post Timberwolves Season Stress Disorder). It’s the inverse of what happens for Heat or Lakers fans when they sign Greg Oden (who hasn’t played a minute of NBA basketball in FOUR YEARS) or Chris Kaman and then think to themselves, “You know, this … COULD WORK!” We assume the worst. We’re not just underdog fans. We’re Midwestern underdog fans. I can’t tell you not to feel the feels. But I can tell you to keep your chin up.

At the very least, keep it well away from your knees. They’re the worst.

It’s getting to be about that time again. The summer is halfway over or halfway begun, depending on how big of an optimist you are, and we’re about two months away from the start of training camp for the 2013-14 season.

With that news, we’ve got the release of the 2013 preseason schedule a day before the regular season schedule is announced. As is the tradition now, the Wolves will play an international team (CSKA Moscow) in their preseason, play a couple of games away from the Target Center that would probably be home games in a typical setting, and they’ll play two games at the Target Center.

The teams we’ll (hopefully) see the Wolves play this preseason are a home and home with the Toronto Raptors (you can see Jonas Valanciunas and his new bulk at the Target Center!), the Milwaukee Bucks and their brand new O.J. Mayo (game in Sioux Falls), the tanking new look Boston Celtics, the new look REALLY tanking Philadelphia 76ers, and the Detroit Pistons with Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

Preseason Schedule

 

No clue yet as to what the TV schedule will or won’t be and tickets are not yet on sale for the preseason games at the Target Center. But the Wolves are almost back.