Last night the Wolves decimated a depleted Indiana team in the fine town of Fargo, North Dakota, sparking irrational exuberance throughout the midwest. While other teams are travelling to Spain, China, Germany, Fiji and Bora Bora, leave it Stern and company to "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" at the Wolves and send them to sunny....Fargo.
As someone who caught the 1980's-esque camera feed supported by radio commentary (which featured a sponsorship from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute...you can't make this stuff up), it was simply outstanding to catch some Wolves ball again. It was somewhat possible to make out the blurry figures of Roy, Kirilenko, Budinger, Shved and the other new faces all making positive contributions on their first official nights as Timberwolves players. All in all, the game was what you would expect: fairly ugly all around. The first few pre-season games typically feature several boneheaded plays as the team rehearses for the real deal. Not to worry. The polish will settle in as the month goes on. Unless JJ continues to start.
From a team standpoint, what stood out the most was the addition of a single attribute: ballhandling. This team is no longer a 1950's era, pass and catch and shoot team. There are ballhandlers throughout the guard and wing spots. Even Budinger (who looked quite good in general, might I add, even getting a 4 point play in the first half) showed he can put the ball on the floor. The Wes Johnson era is over (although he WOULD put up 18 points in his Sun's debut, in a loss of course). Roy, while maybe not as explosive as his former self, showed he still has the ability to score at the NBA level. While going scoreless, Shved already showed he may be a better decision maker at the point than JJ Barea. Stiemsma had a sick block. AK47 was active and annoying. Pek was mobile. Love was rusty. The Wolves won. Again, while it was the first pre-season game, it was great to see the squad. They will go at it again with Indy tomorrow night, playing a game at the International Falls, Minnesota VFW Post 2948.
Rather than go into specific player reviews, I'll post a solid, humorous review forum member DaddyFatSax posted in our forums last night. As always, feel free to join the discussion this season. Here are his thoughts:
I missed the first couple minutes as I was playing basketball myself. The Daddy hit a game winning three, just wanted you all to know that. I will hoop Bonk if we're ever in the same state. I'm like 35 yr old Rasheed Wallace mixed with Eduardo Najera and Sam Mitchell. Minus any of the Mitchell hook shots. Plus the shittalking of Payton, Sheed, + KG in one.
I watched the first half intermittently and most of the second half (save the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter. I had an emergency after eating some greasy thai food earlier).
Barea is even pissed during preseason games.
Adelman still be rockin them turtle necks.
Shved officially looks like Vujabitch. This must change.
Roy Hibbert was either not trying or out of shape.
Kevin Love, Barea, and Pek - just feeling the team out. They seem like their usual selves. Love was going half speed (since he's out of shape) but fine, clearly...same as a month ago in the Olympics.
Barea picked up where he left off at the end of the season, playing unusually well...
Pek looks like a giant sized version of Maurice Jones Drew. He is definitely more cut than last year. Sometimes you see what you want to see but I don't think he looked like he was just lumbering down the lane, he was a bit more fluid, maybe.
AK looks the same as a month ago in the Olympics...Andre Iguodala-esque.
C-Bud looks like he's still in Houston. Very comfortable handling the rock, probably had the best game on the team, but against Indy's backups...so that's ok though.
Derrick Williams...yup. Same guy. So, I watched the Celtics preseason game and sure enough, just like he claimed to be doing in practice, Jeff Green slashed to the hoop like crazy, using preseason as practice for an expanded role and the heir apparent to Pierce. Derrick Williams claimed the same thing...and shot a bunch of jump shots. I think I saw him slash once. Why not practice this stuff? Ugh. Derrick Williams for Darrell Arthur, broken leg and all. I'm going to propose absurd, random proposals until he plays like an adult.
Shveddy looks like Vujabitch, plays more like Rubio. Passing was awesome, shot was fine. I think he even blocked two shots. I can't imagine what will happen when he plays a thick wing like Kobe, Iggy, or Corey Brewer...They are going to toss his little ass around. But between the players that this game mattered for - Shved, Williams, and Roy - He impressed the most. But he did help Paul George up off the floor. The Wolves are trying to start a rivalry with this team Shved. Stare his ass down! Step over him! Step ON him! Don't help him up! fyckin team full of nice guys. Bunch of guys Flash likes and shit the Daddy don't like.
Steimsma - throwing shots, hacking people, being mean.
Cunninghamd and Lou - can't finish Shveddy dimes. Pissing me off.
Roy..? I don't know. He looks healthy so far. Looks effective. Can he be a role player? Man, I have no idea how to read him...
Pretty much as expected. Easy to shine against Pacers scrubs. I think they'll play the starters and try on Friday. A better test.
Lastly, here is a link to some post game video interviews from Adelman, Love and Roy.