All Things 2019-2020 Minnesota Timberwolves In-Season Thread


Q&A with Wolves coach Ryan Saunders, ready for a drama-free beginning

Q We’ve made a lot about the change in tone and culture around the organization. How different it is from a year ago when everything was going on with Jimmy Butler ... and can a more positive culture lead to wins?

A That’s the thing we understand. This is just how myself and [new President] Gersson [Rosas] like to do things. Everybody has a different leadership style. There’s a lot of different leadership styles that produce a number of wins in a number of places. Time will tell, but this is what we believe in and how we believe sustainable success comes about within an organization, especially in a place like Minnesota where we are such a close-knit community and close-knit state in the fact that you want guys to have a family atmosphere. That’s been a big thing we’ve tried to push.

Q In some of the photos from summer workouts, you’ve actually put shot values on the court [how much certain shots are worth in terms of points per possession]. How have the players taken to that? Has it been eye-opening for them?

A I do think it has been. In games we understand there will be some regression, some getting to know the system, too, but this isn’t a ‘Let’s take care of it for October’ kind of thing, this is what we believe is going to help propel us to a contending team down the line by installing these type of things early on and committing to these things we’re stressing.

With that, having shot values on the court … it’s a very simple visual for players. We’ve done a lot of educating with them … and we have guys from our analytics department present to the players what these mean. They come on the court and we can give a better understanding. We see where the game has gone and we don’t want to be left behind when it comes to three-point attempts and things like that.

It’s going to take time to break some of those habits, and when guys do play open gym, it’s their time. We’ve noticed a number of guys have a midrange shot, but they understand that’s not the shot we’re striving to get. They’ll continue on and try to attack the rim or they’ll go into a drive-and-kick situation, which is something we want to see.

Q Along those lines, Andrew [Wiggins] takes a high volume of midrange shots. How has he been receptive to seeing what these values are and adjusting his game or tweaking his game to improve the value of his shots?

A He’s been receptive, and that’s something that I do want to make clear is that we all understand and we’ve had conversations with Andrew. Andrew is a self-aware person. He knows he needs to have a big year not just for himself but for our team. With that, it’d be very easy to — if Andrew was somebody who was a jerk, who didn’t care, didn’t treat people right, then it’d be very easy to criticize.

Now, I know there’s other things that can go into criticism, but the fact that he is a good person and has positive intentions, it makes you want to continue to keep trying to push through and he’s been receptive. That’s the thing. He’s somebody who wants to do right by people, so we do look forward to him having a year where he buys into the system and with anybody, if guys don’t do that, you have different conversations.

Howl Wolves!!



Monday: Media Day.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Practice at the Taylor Center at Minnesota State Mankato before a return to Mayo Clinic Square for the rest of training camp.

Oct. 8, 10: First two of five preseason games — at Phoenix and at Golden State (at the Warriors’ new arena in San Francisco).

Oct. 13: Only home preseason game — vs. Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Basketball Premier League.

Oct. 23: Season opener at Brooklyn.

Oct. 27: Home opener vs. Miami.

Howl Wolves!!


Timberwolves are so happy together

Indianapolis native Jeff Teague joked that the Timberwolves this offseason were like New York City — always somewhere to be with everyone on the move, doing something. That was reflected in the media day set up, which included a DJ playing mostly hip-hop and rap, creating an amusing juxtaposition as several veteran scribes took their seats for a series of news conferences.

Previous seasons were like Indiana, Teague said. The freneticism was missing. More laid back, chill. But he added: “I think everyone around here is happy with the way things are going.”

That extended to the franchise linchpin Karl-Anthony Towns, who bounced onto the stage and appeared much happier to be here than he was a season ago, even though he had just signed his maximum contract extension. That was when Jimmy Butler ran roughshod over the team. Now, Butler is gone. As is Tom Thibodeau, and the culture Towns so desperately wants in place has taken its infant steps over the offseason, he said.

“Who are we going to be? We set that early this summer,” Towns said. “We built on it throughout the offseason, and now we’re at this point where we feel we have a true identity of who we are as a team, what is our culture, what is our standards as a team.”

Howl Wolves!!


Timberwolves' Robert Covington healthy, both mentally and physically

As it got worse, he sent his family away so they wouldn’t have to be around him. Ultimately, in a meeting with General Manager Scott Layden, coach Ryan Saunders and head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam, they talked it out. Covington talked about what he was going through. Saunders talked about how he got over the death of his father, Flip, and how seeing a therapist helped him.

So Covington did the same.

“I had a couple sessions with him, and I felt all the pressure, all the weight I was bearing, lifting off my shoulders,” he said. “It helped me with my recovery.”

It also helped forge a strong bond between Covington and Ryan Saunders.

Covington changed a lot of things. He changed his diet, trying to revamp his body. He did what was necessary to clear his mind. And now he’s been cleared for basketball activities.

He’ll take it slow. He needs to get into basketball shape, and he pledged Monday not to rush anything.

“I’ve done the perfect things to get back healthy,” he said. “I feel great. Only thing now is getting back to playing shape.”

Howl Wolves!!


Jeff Teague is ready for a fresh start with Timberwolves after disappointing season

But in the early days of camp, which included media day Monday in Minneapolis and Tuesday’s first practice in Mankato, Teague has appeared engaged and eager to be beginning a new season — one that will be big for him personally.

“I’m the oldest guy on the team, and I still feel like I’m pretty young,” Teague said. “So that’s amazing. I’m excited that we’re going to play really fast with all of the young guys that we have. The energy every night should be great. It’s going to be very competitive.”

Teague has never been one to shy away from sharing candid thoughts, so his enthusiasm for the Wolves’ change of direction carries a lot of weight.

“He understands he wants to get back, and he wants to help get the team to a level where you can compete and contend down the line,” coach Ryan Saunders said. “So having him and being that example is a positive.”

It will mean changes to the offense, with Teague perhaps handling the ball less than he did in previous seasons. The Wolves want to run a lot and want Towns to facilitate the offense more frequently, and they want to work for more three-pointers.

“Believe it or not, I’m not a guy who wants to dribble, dribble, dribble,” Teague said. “That’s just something I had to in past years when I played on other teams, it was all about continuity, other guys making plays and guys getting open shots and things like that. So I’m all for it.”

Howl Wolves!!


As Ryan Saunders opens his first Timberwolves training camp, players pay tribute to father Flip

For the Timberwolves’ first official practice of training camp, a few of the Wolves wanted to make it a special occasion for their coach Ryan Saunders.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Robert Covington and Andrew Wiggins each donned a No. 14 practice jersey with “Saunders” on the back instead of their names.

That was the number of Flip Saunders, Ryan’s father, in college.

“I just thought it would mean a lot to Ryan,” Towns said. “He’s trying to find creative ways to bring the team together and make sure that we understand ‘what’s our why.’ Ryan’s why is his father. This is something that means a lot to him. I felt we should embrace it. It’s something that means a lot to him and it should mean a lot to us.”

There was a family atmosphere around the team as the Wolves suited up for their first official practices in Mankato, where they held part of their training camp for the first time since 2014. They were scheduled to have dinner at owner Glen Taylor’s house Tuesday night.

Howl Wolves!!


per STrib:

Race to the gym

Guard Jeff Teague said he likes to be the one who gets in the gym first for workouts every day. But he has had some competition turning on the lights. First, he said Wiggins has been getting to the gym early for frequent workouts.

“He has beaten me to the gym every time and that’s unlikely,” Teague said. “The only guy who usually beats me to the gym is [rookie] Jarrett [Culver]. Jarrett beat me [Tuesday] so I’m a little upset about that. But Wiggs has been at the gym every day working hard. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do.”

Teague said he predicts Wiggins could have a strong year given the offense’s emphasis on spacing and driving to the basket.

After Saunders took over as interim head coach last season, Wiggins averaged 18.9 points and shot 42% from the field and 33.5% from three-point range.

As for Culver, Teague said he sees why Culver earned a reputation for his work ethic at Texas Tech.

“He’s beaten me by 30 minutes every day,” Teague said. “For him to work that hard as a rookie, just being able to keep going — I’ve played with him a couple times, he’s a really special talent.”

Howl Wolves!!


Active member
per STrib:

As for Culver, Teague said he sees why Culver earned a reputation for his work ethic at Texas Tech.

“He’s beaten me by 30 minutes every day,” Teague said. “For him to work that hard as a rookie, just being able to keep going — I’ve played with him a couple times, he’s a really special talent.”

Howl Wolves!!
Yeah, but can he play?

Teague has to be happy as the second best scoring option on the team. Hopefully he can play well this year.

With all the player movement, this is going to be a crazy year in the NBA


The Timberwolves' Josh Okogie needs to look before he leaps

Okogie can be tempted to use his athleticism to overpower opponents when sometimes the offense may call for more structure and restraint. To coach Ryan Saunders, that will be one of the differences between the thinking Okogie and the unrestrained one.

“It’s picking his spots in transition,” Saunders said. “Understanding that the offense will dictate where you should be. Spacing. Making sure that you’re in the correct position. The spacing helps above everything. If you’re spaced out, you’ll be able to get shots.”

Perhaps that will help lift Okogie’s three-point shooting from the cringeworthy 28% it was a year ago. Okogie’s offense is a work in progress. His defense is too, but he was a little more polished on that end of the floor and there were plenty of nights when he was guarding some of the top scorers in the league. The Wolves are changing their style on that end of the floor under the guidance of associate head coach David Vanterpool.

“There’s more structure,” Okogie said. “We’re trying to eliminate the gray areas in terms of concepts, so everybody knows what we’re doing and everybody is on the same page.”

When asked what parts of the Wolves defense were the “gray areas,” Okogie said: “Everything.”

Go Gophers!!

Ogee Oglethorpe

Over Macho Grande?
Gotta love the preseason.

Jake Layman managed to hoist up six 3-pointers in just under 17 minutes against PHX; not to be outdone, KAT fired up eight 3-pointers in 18+ minutes. KAT at least made 3 of his, while Layman came up with the o-fer.


STrib: Wolves' Jarrett Culver trying to get up to speed as NBA rookie

Jarrett Culver’s first minute as an NBA player could not have gone much worse.

Culver checked in the Timberwolves’ preseason game against Phoenix on Tuesday night with 5 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Five seconds into his first possession, he traveled.

Then the next time down the floor, he airballed a three-pointer.

After another turnover a few minutes later, thing went substantially better for Culver, who finally eased into the game when he got a steal on defense and a dunk going the other way.

“That’s how you really start your offense, it starts with your defense,” Culver said. “That’s how I really got going.”

Culver’s early mistakes certainly didn’t cause him to shy away from trying to do a lot in his first NBA action. Over the Wolves’ first two games, nobody took more shots than Culver, who was a combined 11-for-26 from the floor, including 4-for-10 from three-point range.

It was the first two steps in Culver’s acclimation to the league, one similar to how other rookies get acclimated, coach Ryan Saunders said. Culver’s third exhibition will come when the Wolves take on Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli league Sunday at Target Center.

“It is a different system offensively and defensively,” Saunders said. “And it’s just natural that the offensive system is going to be ahead of the defensive system, especially when they’re new. So, with that, he’ll get comfortable with it, but just might take a little time.”

Howl Wolves!!


per the STrib:

The Timberwolves made some moves around the fringes of their roster Monday, signing guard Tyus Battle and forward Barry Brown while waiving Lindell Wigginton and former Gophers forward Jordan Murphy.

Both Brown, from Kansas State, and Battle, from Syracuse, played for the Wolves during the Las Vegas summer league. Battle previously agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Wolves, paving the way for him to head to the team's G-League affiliate in Iowa. A source said the Wolves' plan is for Murphy and Wigginton to go to Iowa should they clear waivers, which is likely.

Murphy saw action in one Wolves preseason game and scored five points while Wigginton scored nine in his lone appearance.

Howl Wolves!!


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Five Reasons to Watch the Minnesota Timberwolves This Season - The Ringer

Karl-Anthony Towns, Center

Hammered one on Semi Ojeleye last year. A kind of tomahawk. I think their armpits touched. The dunk made Mark Jones scream, “Oh, he faced the nation. Wow.” The dunk made Doris Burke follow that with, “My goodness.” Dunked on a lot of guys last year. Appears to take great pleasure in doing so. Likes to puff his chest out on the trot to get back on defense....

Jarrett Culver, Forward

Sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. West Texas grown. Stayed in Lubbock for college. Became a Red Raider. Guarantee you he knows who Andre Emmett is. Guarantee you he knows who Tony Battie is. For sure he’s aware of Darvin Ham. Ham once shattered a backboard, made it rain plexiglass crystals, sheets of the stuff snowing down like ice breaking off a glacier.

Culver is serious business. He’s been under the tutelage of Chris Beard. Came out after his sophomore year...

Robert Covington, Forward

I know it’s RoCo, but feels like Rococo could work well too. Great Arcade Fire cut. Let’s go downtown and watch the modern kids. Actually, never mind. I revoke my invitation. That doesn’t sound fun at all.

I wouldn’t hesitate to call Covington a great defender. Has spiderlike qualities but is also foxish. Is he a spiderfox? I don’t know. Probably not. What about a foxspider? Feels like he’s definitely not that. Foxspider is much harder to say than spiderfox. Spiderfox rolls out nicely. Foxspider rolls out like a brick...

Shabazz Napier, Point Guard

I would describe his handle as entertaining. I have a great time watching him dribble. It’s like I throw this tiny little party every time he crosses somebody.

Golden hands. Hands like the Run the Jewels 3 cover. Two-time national champion. Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 Final Four.

Can still get the job done. There’s still money in the bank. There’s still gas in the tank. And although I would love to be smart enough to think of a third rhyme in a row, unfortunately, at this time, I am not...

Jake Layman, Forward

“Turtles All the Way Down” is the opening track on Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. The title is in reference to the world turtle myth. The idea’s basically that there is this one world turtle that holds the entire planet on its back. Below that turtle is an even bigger turtle. Below that turtle is an even bigger turtle. A trend is emerging. Below that turtle is an even bigger turtle and below that turtle is an even bigger turtle and on and on this chain of turtles goes, indefinitely.

Layman would like you to fear the turtle. Do you understand me? Fear the turtle! Be terrified! Lonny Baxter! Byron Mouton! Ralph Friedgen! Turtle wrath...


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I watched most of the (preseason) game last night against the Bucks, who will probably come out of the east. This is going to be a very long year. A longer year than I anticipated. Even given that it was preseason, Wiggins is more Wiggins than ever. This team can't shoot. I'll say it again, this team can't shoot. Culver looks like he might be a player, but he can't shoot. Vonleh and Bell look small for interior players. Layman didn't do much of anything. Napier was better than I thought. Okogie works hard, plays good defense and is out of control on offense. RoCo plays solid defense but he won't last long if he has to play a lot at the four. KAT is exemplary. Finally, how do they expect the team to buy into the new "culture" when so many of them are on one year deals?

At least they are trying to play pace and space.

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