Wolves’ Shot is Off vs Bulls in #SummerLeague Game 2 (71-84)


Reggie is enthralled with John

Reggie is enthralled with John

Tonight the Bulls simply shot better & boarded better (32% shooting by
MN). The ball movement wasn’t the same for the Wolves. The shot
wasn’t dropping, especially for Zach LaVine until a couple threes in the
mid-4th (even his last shot after the buzzer hit rim & bounced out).
But, this isn’t about wins or losses, so let’s talk about the individual performances.

Watch Out!
It’s clear to me after two Summer League games that if you’re a
Timberwolves player, you’d better keep your head on the swivel and
drive to the hoop. Again tonight Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) was passing the ball well including an over the head, no-look style pass. I saw it yesterday and wondered if this was a trend or not. It is! So between Ricky Rubio and Towns, watch out! #BallsComing!

KAT Hustle
Karl-Anthony Towns will hustle. He was chasing down ball last night
and tonight he did it again. During the 1st quarter he chased a ball
that the didn’t have to chase. My worry was that he’d crash into the
seats. He did not. He is working hard and really does hustle. Be ready
for that effort to translate into blocks. He is fun to watch.#KATlikeMoves

One Hand is Plenty
Watch KAT closely. On one play, he got his arm in there to tap up a
rebound. Now, it did not go in, but I was surprised he even got to it.
I love to see that and I predict that you will see it again and one of
those plays will be an #SCTop10. He finds the ball.

Jones Most Improved
In the NCAAs, Tyus Jones earned the Most Outstanding Player. He got his first taste of the NBA last night. Tonight, he started and he played
much better. He took charges, stole the ball, and had great assists.
Most of the time, he seemed to bring the ball up to LaVine. He also
had a couple #And1 drives. He seems to love the ‘oop and I know Target
Center will love him for that. He looked most improved from game 1 to
game 2. Be ready for skyball starting in the Fall. #EyesOnTheRise

More Payne
#33 Adreian Payne brought it again. Especially early, he was looking solid again and he’s also on the receiving end of the great passes by KAT and Jones. He almost seems energized by what’s going on with this club. Announcer Reggie Miller liked him and harkened back to his days at Michigan State. He’s hitting threes in Vegas which is going to make him tough to manage if he keeps it going on.

Loving John Malkovich
The upside of watching the Summer League on NBATV tonight was the
amazing conversation between Reggie Miller and John Malkovich. Reggie was enthralled. Surprise, surprise! John is a huge hoops fan. He
explained he was at last night’s games to watch Willie Cauley-Stein
(of the Sacramento Kings). Watching Reggie and John talk hoops was
amazing. John spoke well and with dramatic pauses. Reggie didn’t mind
for a moment. In fact, John asked Reggie a question. He wanted to know
what he thought of Jonathan Simmons (Spurs). Reggie was impressed.

That’s my take. What did you see?

Timberwolves Summer League Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced their Las Vegas NBA Summer League roster this week.  (Photo credit: NBA.com)

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced their Las Vegas NBA Summer League roster this week. (Photo credit: NBA.com)

The Timberwolves released their Las Vegas Summer League roster on Monday, full of some familiar names and sprinkled with several newbies.  Take a look at the roster itself:

Timberwolves Summer League Roster 2015 (Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

Timberwolves Summer League Roster 2015 (Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

As you may remember, a number of these players were on last year’s roster as well – Lorenzo Brown, Brady Heslip, Othyus Jeffers – as they look to catch on with the Timberwolves or another team around the league.  That isn’t going to be the focus though for many Pups fans, who will naturally have their eyes on this year’s draft picks, Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones.  Look for both players to carve out a good amount of PT under Head Coach Ryan Saunders in Las Vegas.

Somewhat conspicuous by their absence, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, and Shabazz Muhammad will all be in Las Vegas with the team but aren’t expected to play in Summer League, per Timberwolves.com.  While it isn’t normally the case for players in their third year or beyond in the NBA to play in Summer League, it was an interesting call-out on the press release that further pushes the #EyesOnTheRise.

The Wolves will play a minimum of five games in the Las Vegas tournament, with the first three already scheduled:

  1. July 10 vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Thomas & Mack Center, 8:30pm CT
  2. July 11 vs. Chicago Bulls, Thomas & Mack Center, 5:30pm CT
  3. July 13 vs. Utah Jazz, Thomas & Mack Center, 9:30pm CT

Similar to last year’s Summer League preview, let’s take a deeper look at a couple players on the roster …

All Eyes On:

Karl-Anthony Towns – naturally.  For the first time in team history, the Wolves were able to draft the best player at the top of the draft.  Towns has the potential to be a cornerstone for this franchise for the next decade and it all starts later this week in Las Vegas!

Intrigued By:

Adreian Payne – I still don’t see why expectations are so high for Payne given last season’s results.  Can he be a solid contributor?  I think so.  Is he a 30+ minute player that is going to average a double-double?  I don’t think so but there are clearly many fans that have something similar to this in their heads when discussing Payne’s future with the Wolves.

What do you think Wolves’ fans?  What are you looking forward to seeing the most when the Pups hit the court in Las Vegas?

Good luck and good health to the Timberwolves over the next few weeks in Summer League play!


Timberwolves 0-3 in Summer League After Losing to Chicago

(photo credit: NBA.com)

(photo credit: NBA.com)

The Timberwolves fought hard in attempt to gain a summer league win, but in the end their offense proved no match against Chicago, and Minnesota came up on the short end of the 107-73 final score. Kyrylo Fesenko and Zach LaVine led the Wolves in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively. The Bulls boasted an all-around stronger lineup with six of their guys scoring in double digits. No. 11 draft pick Doug McDermott led all scoring with 20 points and six assists.

The contest started out rather evenly, a back-and-forth battle that saw the lead change three times. In the early part of the second quarter, the Wolves delivered a solid performance. Georgetown alum Markel Starks grabbed a three-pointer immediately followed by a Fesenko slam dunk. Minnesota held the lead at 27-24. However, Lance Thomas answered with a long three of his own, and from that point on the Bulls held the upper hand.

Fesenko played well with rookie Zach Lavine, each of them putting up strong numbers this week.  At 7’1″ and 280 lbs, Fesenko could be a huge—pun intended—asset for the Wolves. The Ukrainian has been in the NBA since 2007, but he has struggled to find real success with any team. His longest stint was with Utah, from 2007-2011. He also made appearances with Indiana and Chicago.  It will be interesting to see what relationship the Wolves choose with Fesenko following summer league.

Despite watching Minnesota lose its first three games in Vegas, Timberwolves fans have reason to smile about their team’s No. 13 draft pick. LaVine impressed the crowd at the Target Center scrimmage last week, and he’s continued to draw attention on the road. LaVine averaged 12 points, five rebounds and 2.3 assists over the trio of games. According to Wolves writer Megan Schuster, “LaVine had a few tough baskets in the quarter, taking a leadership role while playing point.”

Both teams scored well from downtown, hitting over 40 percent from behind the three-point line. It was in free throws, though, that Minnesota fell miserably short. Chicago knocked down 13-16 from the charity stripe, while the Wolves made only 12 of 22 attempts. The young lineup also struggled to consistently handle the ball, and 18 turnovers certainly hurt in the end.

Shabazz Muhammad also played well, adding 10 points for Minny. One surprise performance for the Wolves was D.J. Kennedy. Kennedy, who went undrafted in 2011 and has been playing for the Israeli Basketball Super League, tallied nine points and four rebounds in just 18 minutes on the floor.

A few Wolves players never got off the bench—among them third-year guard Alexey Shved.  Shved played well in the first two games this summer, leading the team in scoring. Minnesota fans are anxious to see if his regular season performance improves over last year.


Up Next:


Minnesota will face Phoenix this afternoon for Game 4. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CST.

Wolves Fall to Mavs in First Summer League Game, 93-85

Game Recap

Rookies. Flash. Hope. Promise. Those words embody what NBA Summer League is all about, and the Timberwolves first summer league game certainly possessed all of those things. Even with all the Love rumors still furiously swirling, fans pushed their worries aside for forty minutes to see the young talent that will hopefully be the future of the franchise.

The first quarter opened fast for the Wolves, with Zach LaVine throwing down an alley-oop just fifteen seconds in. From there, the Wolves struggled with consistency on both ends of the floor. After playing one game already, the Mavericks looked in sync, while the Wolves did a lot of flailing around trying to learn how to play with each other in the team’s first game.

Everything went downhill for the Wolves after the first quarter. An abundance of missed defensive rotations allowed the Mavs to build a 10-point lead heading into hafltime. It seemed like nobody was guarding the Mavs perimeter players for much of the game, especially Ricky Ledo. The Providence product hit 5 threes and finished with 21 points.

The Wolves offense was brutal in the third quarter as Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad, and Gorgui Dieng all combined to take bad, contested jump shots. LaVine began heating up after the half, scoring in a variety of ways.

In the fourth, the Wolves fought back to make it a game again, but it was too little too late. Their lack of defensive prowess and settling for generally bad shots most of the night brought about the team’s undoing.

Breaking down the guys that project to be on the NBA roster

Shabazz Muhammad

Putting the result aside, Muhammad was the player of the game. He dominated his man often, which is exactly what you want to see in summer league from a guy you want contributions from when the NBA regular season rolls around. He showed off his physicality, and he couldn’t be kept off the boards. His relentless effort got him several put-back buckets, which is a huge part of his game right now. He showed range on his shot, going 2-3 from beyond the arc. His problems remain the same. He still takes bad shots, and he needs to develop more advanced handles to diversify his drives to the rim. When his man cuts him off, he tends to give up easily and take a tough floater. He needs to learn how to muscle or finesse his way to the rim with regularity to become a more efficient player. Speaking of efficiency, he took a team-high 24 shots and made just 10 of those. While that is a ton of shots, it is not a big deal in summer league when he’s supposed to be “the guy.” His non-stop motor is still where most of his value stems from. When he settles into the NBA and develops his skill set, he could be a really good player for a long time.

Gorgui Dieng

Dieng is a really good example of a guy that plays within himself. He knows what he can and cannot do right now, and he doesn’t attempt to stray too far out of his comfort zone. He went 4-6 from the field today, and all of his buckets came in the paint. When he gets outside of the paint, he tends to struggle a bit. He had one strong move on the left baseline where muscled his defender out of the way and got to the rim, but that’s a rare occurrence. He looks uncomfortable in face up situations, as he possesses an average first step and no real killer move. To take his game to the next level, he will need to figure out other ways to get to the rim consistently besides just catching the ball under the basket. Much of Dieng’s value comes on the defensive end where he has so much value as an anchor in the paint and on the glass. He will be a double-double machine in summer league, but can he do that consistently when the real season rolls around?

Alexey Shved

Every summer league team needs a guy that plays out of control and chucks crazy shots at the rim. That guy for the Wolves is Alexey Shved. His first shot of the game was a three that came at least a couple feet behind the three-point line. He settled down a little from that point, getting to the rim with relative ease. On the pick-and-roll, Shved demonstrated the ability to turn the corner hard and accelerate straight towards the rim. The only way to stop him was to foul him, and he got to the line 9 times. He still makes passes he shouldn’t make that lead to turnovers. He only seems to be able to operate at lightning speed, but if he could ever slow the game down he might be a lot more serviceable.

Zach LaVine

It feels like the only skill of LaVine’s that ever gets mentioned is his athleticism. That’s not exactly fair to him though. He was slotted as the point guard at times, and he wasn’t bad. A couple times, he was able to execute a nice pick-and-roll with Dieng. He’s not a guy that’s going to make flashy passes right now, but he made the right play for the most part when he was serving as the primary ball-handler. Occasionally, he will try to force it, and that’s when things get away from him. He’ll try to thread the needle or throw a lob, and that’s just not his game. He didn’t shoot the ball great against the Mavs, but his mechanics are sound which is promising. Everything he does is smooth, and he looks so graceful slicing his way to the rim. Defensively, LaVine has some work to do. He’s not great at fighting through the screener on the pick-and-roll, and the Mavs got several buckets as a result. Overall, it was a solid first performance from the Wolves first 2014 draft pick.

Glenn Robinson III

Robinson will wish he could replay this game. He was a non-factor most of the night, and he struggled defensively. His lateral quickness isn’t up to snuff right now, and his defensive stance needs work. Offensively, Robinson needs to continue to work on his outside game. It would benefit his development in that area if he would take more than three per game during summer league. He did a couple nice buckets, but overall he was pretty underwhelming in game one.

Game 2 for the Wolves is on Monday at 3:30PM CT against the Chicago Bulls.


Wolves NBA Summer League Preview 2014

Our Pups will be participating in the Las Vegas edition of the NBA's Summer League again this season. (Photo: NBA.com)

Our Pups will be participating in the Las Vegas edition of the NBA’s Summer League again this season. (Photo: NBA.com)

(UPDATED 7/6 for final roster announcement)

The Minnesota Timberwolves will return to Las Vegas for their NBA Summer League action. Summer League play officially kicks off in Orlando from 7/5 – 7/11, which then runs right into the start of the action in Las Vegas. The Vegas league runs from 7/11 – 7/21 later this month.

Similar to last year’s Vegas league, each team will play three games and then be seeded accordingly based on their record for tournament style play. All of the action can be seen on NBA Digital and/or the NBA Summer League app. [Read more…]