The Minnesota Timberwolves hosted a open scrimmage game in which the public was allowed to watch at the Taylor Center. The center quickly sold out, and the game was electrifying, and despite it only being 38 minutes, there were many things to draw from the game.
I'd like to remind you that this was just one game, and one game isn't enough data to compile substantial conclusions, so we will focus on what's blatantly obvious with the team.
- If you thought that last season's team got up the court quickly, they would get run over by this years team.
- The focus, energy level and defensive intensity has finally started to surface. For such a young team, effort will not be as huge of a problem like it was last season.
- This team is going to cause some matchup problems for other teams, this team has passers, shooters and a ton of athleticism, even some sleepers at certain positions.
- The Timberwolves are huge without lacking speed, they have 2-footers (Darko Milicic, Kosta Koufos), 3 guys listed at 6'10'' (Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic) or taller on NBA.com, and their wings for the most part are 6'7'' through 6'9' (Wesley Johnson, Corey Brewer, Martell Webster)'.
As for the players themselves, there were some slight conclusions you could make. Remember, these players know each others tendencies, go to moves and charecteristics on the court, so if a player had a less than stellar game, there's always inconclusion due to there being a small sample size.
- Sebastian Telfair: Very solid, looks to be in good shape. Still cannot shoot worth a lick, but has the skill level of a top tier backup point guard while being at the age of 25.
- Luke Ridnour: Is very confident shooting the basketball, running the team, picking his spots and knowing when to execute. Will excel in the open court handling and dishing the ball.
- Jason Hart: Has some game left in him, had some impressive moments. A true veteran on and off the court
- Wayne Ellington: If he was 3-inches taller, he'd be an all-star. Solid everywhere, but elite shooter and handles the ball and passes the ball better than expected.
- Martell Webster: At 23 years of age, Martell has a lot of game left that hasn't been on display. For the most part was silient through the scrimmage, but is relentless, and when he was shooting and choosing his spots, showed a very versatile game. P.S Somebody please tell Jonah Ballow that Martell is 23, not 25.
- Corey Brewer: Brewer again had his moments where you put your head down and say ugh, then he does something like a pull up jumper and get's you to go wow. Brewer was silent for most of this scrimmage, but showed some signs as to why he should remain the starting 2-guard.
- Lazar Hayward: Didn't see that much time on the floor, but is one of your do it all players. He plays a role, and plays it well.
- Wes Johnson: If anyone doesn't think this guy has some type of Scottie Pippen upside you are wrong. On 1 and 3/4th of a leg, Johnson did everything from contested 3's to weakside shot blocking on Nikola Pekovic. It's going to be interesting to see, but one things for certain, if this guy get's the mentality to be a go to scorer and handle the ball, the Wolves could have a all-star caliber player in his rookie season.
- Michael Beasley: The silent star of the game. Can average 20+ points a game easy playing both SF and PF. He's much more effective as a PF, takes the responsibility of making something happen when the shot clock is winding down. Could rebound a little better, but I guess you really can't rebound that well against Kevin Love can you? Can pretty much do it all, and has a shot of being a #1 option.
- Kevin Love: Wasn't particulary impressed with Kevin in this game, but solid. He's held to a higher standard than most, and had a hard time guarding athletic 4's like Anthony Tolliver and Michael Beasley. Rebounding was there, passing out of the post was great, but again, it's just one game and we all know Kevin Love was still the best player on the court.
- Anthony Tolliver: Pleasantly solid and very efficient. Do it all power forward, can play some 3 and 5 depending on matchups. A huge burst of energy, can shoot the ball from long range and mid range, has some post up moves and decent defense. A top quality role player, a taller faster Ryan Gomes.
- Darko Milicic: Expected to see more from Milicic, deferred to others more than he should. Great passer out of the post, starting to gain confidence a little bit more, needs a huge confidence booster, and I mean HUGE. Wasn't good, but wasn't bad either, needs work on expanding his post moves, but looked very solid on the boards. Will benefit with time on the floor, expect him to start off around double figure points and 7-8 boards, then take off around game 50 if he's still starting.
- Kosta Koufos: Stole the game from the bigs. A 7-footer with energy, ability to shoot the ball and plays with heart. Has some upside in his game,, and has some decent athleticism for a 7-footer.
- Nikola Pekovic: Huge, even against Darko and Koufos, has a build that would scare grown men. Solid defender, but his strength is his basketball I.Q on the offensive end. He can seal his man at will, gain good post position, and passes the ball a little better than Al Jefferson. Wolves fans won't miss Al Jefferson, I have the feeling that Pekovic could average 20 points a game, while he won't be the rebounder that Al is, he's solid.
Seeing this game, this team ran the triangle offense better than last year's team ran it during mid season. By the end of preseason, they should have it near perfection and ready to go, especially considering the fact that the players themselves know how to defend it, it ran much smoother than expected.
This team is much better defensively, and the upside is huge.