Archives For Gorgui Dieng

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…

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…

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…

Wolves in Summer

Benjamin Polk —  July 24, 2013 — 5 Comments

Past NBA Summer Leagues have been characterized by a distinctly midnight basketball feel. Stripped down strategic approaches; players unfamiliar with each other and their systems; the deep desire to show and prove–all of these things have typically led to a kind of league-wide Nellie-ball fever. Breakneck pace and hypertrophic scoring were the rule. But the vibe was different this year. Perhaps  the presence and success of the D-League Select team, a group of grown men playing for their lives, added a note of seriousness to the proceedings. Perhaps it was the fact that teams like Phoenix had loaded their roster with experienced NBA players. Or maybe it was simply as David Thorpe suggested: The vogue for strongside pressure defense took the air out of the ball. But for whatever reason, defense (and competitiveness) enjoyed a bit of a renaissance while offenses were less manic.

As for the Wolves, their Summer League contingent shot the ball well, especially from distance (47.7% overall, 42.5% from three) which was an incredible relief to see from any team wearing a T-Wolves jersey–and I don’t care if those jerseys are ridiculous short-sleeved practice jerseys that make the players look like eight-year-olds or if none of those players ever step onto the Target Center floor.  They defended energetically and frequently well; they turned the ball over at an incredible volume. That’s pretty much the recipe for a 3-3 team, which, ultimately, who cares. In any event, here are some observations from the week.

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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. Continue Reading…

Spurs

Model and process.

The San Antonio Spurs are the model franchise for those places that have trouble attracting free agents to move their families to a less than desirable location. When I say less desirable, it’s in relative terms. It’s hard to equate our lives to those of an NBA player, whose lifestyle will always be a different world to us. When you have the opportunity to live in a lively city that also has complementary amazing weather or unmatched nightlife, that’s going to be more desirable for you as an NBA player. When you don’t have those luxuries, you have to have a core set of values that never get compromised. You have to possess a process to believe in.

This is how the San Antonio Spurs are and it makes me insanely jealous. It’s not even that they’re successful. Sure, it would be awesome if the Wolves had four championships or even one championship to look up at in the rafters of the Target Center, but what I’m envious of is the process for how they look to accomplish their goals for success. Continue Reading…

A few notes here annotating Zach’s excellent summary of the Wolves’ first round.

It’s important to remember just how much uncertainty plays into these decisions. Especially when you’re drafting in the middle of the first round, and especially in a draft as zany as this one, GM’s are constantly recalibrating their matrices of risk and reward. There’s no occult knowledge here, no hidden absolutes. The draft game is a set of shifting uncertainties. In all likelihood, someone taken in the middle of the first round will become a Kawhi Leonard or a Larry Sanders or a Ty Lawson. And when they do we’ll all heap scorn on those pathetic GM’s who missed out. But: anyone here know who that guy is yet? Neither do I.

Continue Reading…

Wolves

I like it.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m not embarrassed to admit it. I’m not sucking up to the organization. I genuinely like what happened for the Wolves in the 2013 NBA Draft. It wasn’t perfect and I get why it’s confusing to some. But I feel like I see a vision here and I think the two main pieces the Wolves added in this draft are going to be major contributors in a positive way. The draft was turned on its head from the get-go when the Cavs selected Anthony Bennett with the first pick.

Nobody saw that coming. Nobody saw Nerlens Noel falling to sixth. Nobody saw Jrue Holiday being traded for Noel just minutes later. Not many thought Ben McLemore might fall to seventh and it seemed weird that the Bobcats would take Cody Zeller without trading down from No. 4. But all of that happened and when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was taken right before the Wolves were up at No. 9, it seemed like a lock that C.J. McCollum was a lock to run the backcourt with Ricky Rubio. And then it happened. The Wolves selected Trey Burke and the internet went into David Kahn joke convulsions.

Right away, you have to figure this pick was about getting value. It wasn’t about getting value with Burke joining the team, although I think he’s a lock to be a Rookie of the Year favorite with the Utah Jazz; it was about moving Burke and seeing what the Wolves would get in return. With the 14th pick, they took Shabazz Muhammad. With the 21st pick, they took Gorgui Dieng. They sold off the 26th pick for cash and a future second rounder from the Golden State Warriors. Continue Reading…

The Wolves also got the 21st pick in that Utah deal. With it, they drafted Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng. Here’s his vid:

Not to speculate, but my guess is that this means a) the 26th pick is getting moved and b) we’ve seen the last of Greg Stiemsma.