Ball Movement Key In Wolves' 3-Point Efficiency

Ball Movement Key In Wolves' 3-Point Efficiency

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Kee Kee Clark knows a thing or two about scoring. He did it in bunches at St. Peter’s College, ending his NCAA career with more than 3,000 points, and he’s continued to fill the basket overseas in Greece and Italy over the past seven years.

He’s played in offenses where ball movement is critical and, at times, he’s had stops where ball movement tends to be lacking. He’s not seeing a shortage of it this week on the Wolves’ Summer League team.

“The offense puts shooters in great position,” Clark said. “When you have guys that are able to make plays and read the game and get it to guys when they’re open, it only made it that much easier.”

The Wolves’ roster is making the most of their open looks this week in Vegas. It’s a roster not short on players who are known for hitting perimeter jumpers, and they’re utilizing the quick passes around the arc that eventually sets up someone—anyone, literally—for a pretty good look at the basket.

Through the team’s three preliminary games, Minnesota is shooting 50 percent from distance. They’ve hit 28-of-56 shots from behind the arc split between seven different players. Clark’s taken the most and has knocked down 6-of-11 in the three-game stretch. Demetri McCamey is 5-of-6 from distance in the past two games after not getting into the game on Saturday, and John Holland is 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

The Wolves picked up the 13th seed after going 1-2 in the prelims, and they’ll face 20th-seed Sacramento tonight at 7 p.m. CT live on NBATV. The winner will face the D-League Selects on Thursday.

Hitting those open looks from distance has put the Wolves in position to be in a far better situation in the standings than the 13th-seed. The Wolves blew a 24-point lead against Phoenix and an 11-point lead against the D-League Selects in their first two games, and that had far more to do with turnovers than missed field goal attempts.

With this team, the Wolves have seven players who have not only hit from 3 but are a constant threat on any possession to knock down an open look. Along with Clark and Holland, Minnesota has gotten steady production out of Brandon Paul (4-of-9), Robbie Hummel (3-of-6), Shabazz Muhammad (3-of-8) and Lorenzo Brown (3-of-8). That’s four players shooting 50 percent or better from distance.

Paul said he’s noticed during since Summer League camp opened up last week that this team has players who simply put in the extra work to get better. That’s part of the reason why they’re hitting those open looks.

“Guys stay in the gym,” Paul said. “I know just from the couple days practicing, guys built some chemistry together, sharing the ball. We’re making the extra pass, and that’s something I’m used to. I did that a lot in college. Once guys knock down shots, guys are looking for each other and having faith in each other.”

Wolves Summer League coach David Adelman said that’s the purpose of the type of offense Minnesota tries to run, and the players are buying in. Everyone is getting an opportunity to get shots, whether it’s behind the arc or not. On Tuesday against Miami, 12 of the Wolves’ 13 players had a field goal.

Part of it is connecting on the jumper, part of it is reading the game and knowing the correct place to be. That’s a testament to how the Wolves’ players have picked up these schemes since the staff implemented the system last week, Adelman said.

“This group’s been great,” Adelman said. “I feel like every day they’ve gotten to know each other a little more. They’re a little more unselfish each day. Hopefully that carries the rest of the way.”

Trust is an important part of the equation. That comes from familiarity and replication.

“These guys are always in the gym, they’re getting up shots,” Clark said. “It’s just repetition. When you’re able to play with guys that know how to play the right way and get you the ball in the right spots, shooting jump shots I like making a layup.”

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