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Wolves Preseason
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I was able to take my family to the first game of the Thibodeau era vs Miami in Kansas City last night. Wolves played well in the second half, erasing a 17 point deficit and winning.

Here are a few notes and impressions, and since it was just a preseason game, I am including a bunch of other stuff that happened.

-I was told that Miami has been one of the teams in every preseason game in KC the past few years. The game is basically set up with them being the home team. They had a huge, arena lights-down starting line up intro...then we expected something for the Wolves and they didn't even announce the names after the lights came back up. All that to say, the best part was that it was a Wolves crowd, which was clear from the jerseys/shirts and cheering.
-When I bought tickets, the box office told me where the two player tunnels were in the arena, but couldn't say which one would belong to the Wolves. I had two ticket options and went with the section ending in "9" because of Rubio and got lucky that it was the right section! So we were right next to them entering and exiting, and some of these notes reflect the interaction.
-Wiggins shirts were the most popular, both from his Wolves and Kansas days. Because of that, I wish he would have shown the kids a little love down by the tunnel when he came in and out. After his pregame shooting, he actually avoided the tunnel to the locker room where Wolves fans were and departed a different way. I guess you could say he is just really dialed in right now on playing!
-Zach definitely willing to show and receive a little fan love. Obviously some of you guys already know this, but being down on court level and watching some of his flying to the basket stuff has more in common with Space Jam than the rest of the players on the actual court. The best was when he didn't have the ball and was crashing the offensive board. Visually, it just didn't make sense.
-As soon as the Kahnster originally signed Rubio, I bought a jersey and white was the only option in that particular store. I kind of wanted a colored jersey, but was just happy Ricky was coming over. We were fortunate that we got him to come over and sign it after his pregame shooting routine. We were just excited to talk a little with him, that I never noticed he was signing with his left hand until we looked at the photo after the game. My instant response was the same I got back from my sister when I texted her, "No wonder he can't shoot with his right hand." As for actual pregame and game shooting, he is working hard but still has that flat shot. I wish he could consistently get that arc that he had that one year when he came back from injury and had been working with the shooting coach a lot. Of course, that only lasted about 3 games. Anyway, gotta love Ricky and what he brings to this team. He is definitely the right man for running this team.
-Dunn's learning curve is going to be super interesting. There is a lot to learn, and Thibs is busy teaching him when he is on the court. I hope we see some good progress this year, but it is good we never traded Ricky.
-Tyus didn't get off the bench in preseason game 1. It'll be interesting to see if he can get some minutes with Thibs and a #5 pick in front of him.
-Payne didn't play either. I like this Thibs guy!
-I don't know if it is just an extra preseason emphasis, but Gorgui and Bjelica were not getting away with the extra steps in their moves. Each of them may have had 3 travels. I think I saw actually steam rising from Thibs. I think this is going to get some practice focus with these guys! The funny part is that I just read how KG was teaching Gorgui last year how to refine his moves so he wouldn't get called for traveling.
-Bench notes: Dunn, Rush, Shabazz, Bjelly and Aldrich. If Dunn figures out how to run this unit, it is going to be a lot of fun watching them. Both the Rush and Aldrich signings were really important for this team. It's great seeing a guy with Rush's size, build and experience on the court shooting threes. Wow! Ricky is going to have fun playing with him too.
-Cole Aldrich: I am sure he is a Thibs favorite already with his rim protection. I guess I wasn't looking at all of his other defensive play, so we'll have to see how he looks in that light. But he was definitely flying around, blocking and altering shots and helping us come up with defensive stops. Which was important since we gave up 62 points in the first half. On offense, he was more effective than I expected. He is kind of a like a Steven Adams, flying around, annoying the other team, bringing a ton of energy and more effective than you would think he'd be. I think that is going to play well alongside Bjelica.
-A Serbian grandma brought her grandson and they wanted him to come over and sign a Srbija hat. During the pregame she taught us how to say, "Nemanja, come here" in Serbian. They had to go to their seats but I got to yell that to him at halftime, but they were all going in to the locker room and not signing then. We also googled how to say "We love meat." in Serbian. We were going ask Bjelica to tell that to Pek when he sees him next. Pek is not with them on this trip. Before the game outside the arena they blocked off the streets and had baskets. There was a 6-8 guy not as thick as Pek, but could have been a younger brother, shooting baskets. It was a funny moment when my kids looked over and said, "That looks like Pek!"
-Towns: I like how he leads the team out at the beginning of the game and watch him do all the KG teaching stuff with teammates when he is on the bench. It was nice to see him teaching Dunn at the end of a time out as Dunn headed back on the court. I have to say, Karl's three pointing looks so smooth and easy. It looks even better. We all know it, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't say repeatedly how great this guy is as a person and player. We are going to enjoy the ride he takes us on!
-And while on that ride, I am going to be wearing KAT's game worn "We   Flip   Timberwolves" wristband. They didn't stop to sign autographs on the way out, but when I yelled "Karl" he looked up and as he walked took off his wristband and tossed it to me. I was happy that my left pinky snagged it like landing a ring on a bottle top at a county fair game. Yes, I am glad I have that, but I think I am more glad to know KAT is about team and still honors who brought him to us. It's ridiculous how mature he is as someone who could be a junior in college now.
-One of my kids loves Shabazz but we couldn't get him to come over. I wanted to ask if he had done his crazy summer beach workouts again this year. Anyone know? Bazz missed so many second half shots around the hoop after good moves or offensive boards. Hopefully his game takeaway is "I have to get my legs back under me and dunk everything near the basket!"
-And for some reason after the game, I had to yell "Greg Farnam!" as he walked by. He looked up and grinned as I said "You're the man." I withheld adding anything like "And you better be on your game with Arnie no longer around."

Miami notes:
-I forgot Derrick Williams signed with them. Perfect situation for him -- first game against the Wolves so he could be overly impressive before sucking the rest of the time. Didn't get a chance to yell "caged lion" at him.
-I always like watching the Rubio-Dragic match up. Goran is really good. Maybe if Ricky would have been taught to shoot with his writing hand like Goran, they would have more in common. I was given a Dragic Slovenia national team jersey a year ago. My wife was awesome before and after the game as she sat by the Heat tunnel and eventually got him to sign it. Another cool moment that we were laughing about after the game as we looked at our treasure trove. In the concourse, some drunk guy came by her and said how happy he was that she actually got it signed, since he had seen her down there with it.

I think I just need to move back to Minneapolis and get season tickets! League Pass will have to do and I am just so happy NBA is back and we are in good shape to enjoy a fine Wolves' season!



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I should have also said, Thibs is in regular season mode already. I never even noticed Spoelstra, but Thibs was getting technicals, walking on the court during the game, teaching and really getting after any stupid mistakes we were making. Well, maybe this level of intensity is just preseason mode for him, but there is definitely going to be high accountability this year for playing winning ball.

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Man, Tod, what a post!! I literally could smell the sweat of the players out of your description. It is such a beauty, reading such a post, after such a silent offseason here on the blog! Thx for that.



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Good post! Lots of details. Nothing too unexpected, except our inability to watch these dumb games. I must admit, I still am not a believer in Lavine or ShaBEAST. I hope for the best and if I'm surprised and proven wrong, great. If at least one of them can become a "+" player, that would go a long ways toward making the playoffs (long shot).

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Wow what a recap! I will read in further detail when time permits.

As you all know I am moved to tears at the fact this team is now allowed to attempt 3 point field goals. I can't describe how surreal it still is to have competent people running this organization. It will be annoying at times to monitor the fan panic when Thibs plays some starters 90 seconds longer than whatever the Warriors do for their starters, but I have full confidence in this staff to do the right things and put players in the best position to be successful. I worry the bench is thin, but we'll see.

Here is a video of the game. www.youtube.com/watch no sound or score, but fun to see. Even conveniently abridged to exclude TO's, etc.

Next game is tonight at 6p CST

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That was a really fun recap Tod Murphy! I love the interaction and in arena details. Super sweet you got KAT's wristband. The thing with tRicky writing with his left hand was also news to me. What is up with that?? Good for you scouting out the player tunnel; Im sure your kids loved it too. And the wristband! I've done the tunnels a lot in Target Center in my day and only ever gotten a Marko Jaric towel, Ricky Davis wristband, Stephen Jackson headband, and Ed Davis towel. The KAT wristband trumps all of those combined!

I am excited to hear about Aldrich. Seems to me he has always done well with the playing time he has gotten and been solid and reliable. I'm also excited for Rush. I kind of forgot about him! Payne not playing is good to me too. I do hope Tyus gets regular bench play this season.

Thanks for the detailed recap. Not being able to see even the game highlights had me very thirsty for some kind of analysis from someone who was there. Love it!

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I can hardly believe it that almost every player shot a 3 in that game! Flip would be terrified and Smitch is probably texting KG about how much it's going to harm player development to have them shoot those super tough 3 pointers.

Players I am most excited for:
1. KAT - legit top 10 MVP candidate until the second half of the season when the Wolves can't get much over .500.
2. tRicky - As always.
3. Bjelica - He reminds me of Sam Perkins. He doesn't play like him, but when he shoots threes his nonchalance reminds me of big Smooth.
4. Wiggins - Is he good yet? I bet so.
5. Cole - This team has few a$$holes. He should be one of them.

Players I am worried about:
1. Dieng - It didn't help that one the Miami Heat highlight video every basket was due to his horrendous pick and roll defense or rim protection. However, we do know his PnR defense is not bad at all... I don't think Dieng is bad, I am optimistic about his game. I just worry that he will continue to be a weird fit. We'll see.
2. Lavine - He has soooo much hype. I hope he is good. He has not been good yet!

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Sam Mitchell's loud ass. Talk all the goddamn time. Clownin Sam... THE GREAT SAM MITCHELL... A man's man, if you know what that means. Wears cologne. All that good shit. No nonsense....Tom Hammonds, Terry Porter, Doug West, these are all hitters!  - KG

 



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Im hopin B-jelly has a killer year, ive always liked that dude..
Ricky im hopin will also do better....

Ive never been a fan of Dieng...Yet with the big pecker sadly out, i hope he finally shows up or throws up....

i didnt even know Payne was on the roster...Never liked him, sad hes still around....

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Dunn is having a rough start to the preseason. His shot is roouuuugh. I'm surprised Tyus has had basically no tick in these three games. He killed it in summer league, doesn't he deserve a chance to show he belongs? I'm not sure Dunn has earned backup PG duties yet....

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Sam Mitchell's loud ass. Talk all the goddamn time. Clownin Sam... THE GREAT SAM MITCHELL... A man's man, if you know what that means. Wears cologne. All that good shit. No nonsense....Tom Hammonds, Terry Porter, Doug West, these are all hitters!  - KG

 



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No one is excited about seeing Shamazzing playing defense for Thibs?


Yeah, I think Tyus was the only person in Summer league almost as hot as DA Russell and he has been killing it in Preseason.

I really want to see if Kat's passing get used more with Thibs offense, kind of like Noah's did.

I want to see if Dieng's shot blocks start getting crazy with the new defense too.

Curious to see if Hill gets any burn for us and what Rush has left.


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http://sports.yahoo.com/news/sources-timberwolves-resisting-trade-overtures-for-ricky-rubio-224943249.html

Here is some Wolves PG chatter. It sounds a little ridiculous to me. 



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Goodness, look at that box score from tonight. Until scrub fourth quarter time, the Wolves beat the Grizzlies by about as many points as possible. That is encouraging. Lavine's box scores have been encouraging this preseason. I hope he breaks out along with Shabeast. That is the difference between 35 wins and 42-45.

I ain't too concerned with the PG dilemmas. Rubio ain't going anywhere because there is no other PG to run this team with playoff aspirations. Any ideas on why Tyus aint' getting run over John Lucas? Why the hell do we need this random cat? If it comes down to the third point guard, the team is f ucked anyway. Let Tyus get the third PG run to see if he is any good!

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Sam Mitchell's loud ass. Talk all the goddamn time. Clownin Sam... THE GREAT SAM MITCHELL... A man's man, if you know what that means. Wears cologne. All that good shit. No nonsense....Tom Hammonds, Terry Porter, Doug West, these are all hitters!  - KG

 

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