Blueprint for the Future - Fred Hoiberg
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As we continue to host exclusive conversations with our upper management staff here at Wolves headquarters, we spoke to assistant GM Fred Hoiberg about the future of the franchise.
Read all about the Mayor's thoughts on Minnesota's three young guns, what makes Kevin Garnett great and how Hoiberg's transition into the front office can help the organization going forward.
Q: Why should fans be excited about the future of Randy Foye?
Hoiberg: I think Randy has the potential to be a great player in this league if he continues to progress the way he has played this season. He has shown the ability to take over games in the fourth quarter, he's shown no fear when taking big shots, he's carried this team to several victories and that's saying a lot about a rookie. He's got potential to be great if he continues to build, continues to work on his outside shooting and continues to get better.
Q: You watch Randy practice every day. What have you seen in terms of intangibles and demeanor that people might not know?
Hoiberg: Randy's got a tremendous work ethic, and he's a very mature kid. He comes from a great college program and a great college coach in Jay Wright. I think he's exceeded everyone's expectations this season and a lot of that comes from his work ethic; a lot of it comes from his background, from when he had to grow up and pretty much do things on his own, get himself to school, get himself to practice, do all those things with his parents passing away at a very young age. He really has done everything because of his work ethic. That's why he is where he is right now.
Q: What can the Wolves 2006 first rounder do to take the next step as a basketball player?
Hoiberg: In his first few years, Dwyane Wade was pretty much a take-it-to-the-basket guy. He's extended that and extended his game to where now he's a great jump shooter. Michael Jordan did that with his game. So I think it's going to be a very important offseason for Randy this summer. I think you improve the most from the end of your rookie year to the beginning of your second year. It's going to be important for Randy to be here and to work on his shooting, so people will play him honest when they are guarding him on the perimeter.
Q: Is it fair to say that Randy's improved his outside shooting already this season?
Hoiberg: He has. Defenders are backing off him now a little bit. He has shown the ability to go up with his shot and knock it down. He's been better in some games than others. He's been a very inconsistent three-point shooter. At times he's been very good and at times he's been very poor. So, the big thing for him is to get where he's comfortable shooting it. I think he's a better shooter than a lot of the players that had to really work on that, that were strictly take it to the basket players. He's got good form, a nice release and nice follow-through. But there are some things that we can work on and tweak and make a little more consistent.
Q: Craig Smith, has been quite a pleasant surprise probably to everyone but you guys that had a say in drafting him in the first place...
Hoiberg: Craig has been an inside presence for this team. He started out this season being the surprise for everybody, aside from those of us that saw him play in college and some international competitions. He just has a way of getting things done. He showed it at Boston College when he averaged 20 and 10 his freshmen season and continued that all the way through. Like Randy, he comes from a great program in Boston College where he played for a great coach in Al Skinner. And, he's mature, just like Randy is. You want to build your organization with solid, hard-working good kids and those two guys are just that. Again, because he is undersized he's going to have to work on his consistently knocking down that 15-, 20-foot jump shot, which he has gotten better at this season. He's worked a lot with Kevin Garnett. KG stayed after practice and worked with him on the block, worked on moves. And Craig is now showing that. He hit a little bit of a rookie wall about halfway through the year, but he's really come out of that. He's been as consistent as anybody these past three weeks.
Q: How important can he be as a defensive presence for the Wolves going forward, particularly on the backboard?
Hoiberg: He has long arms, so he will be able to guard bigger players. He's more explosive than people think. He positions his body well. He's a very good rebounder both offensively and defensively. Also, you can challenge him. I remember he had only one rebound one game and Kevin McHale said, "You got one more rebound than a dead person tonight. Nice game." Next game he said to McHale, "Tonight I had 11 more rebounds than a dead person." So, you can challenge him, and he'll take that and work. His and Randy's work ethic will show as these guys grow and become leaders of this team. That will be a good example for the young players that play under them.
Q: Another good young player is Rashad McCants, who has been working extremely hard all season to recover from his knee surgery. How good can he be?
Hoiberg: I think he showed last year what he's capable of doing. When he started the last month or so of the season last year, he showed how gifted he is. He can score in a lot of different ways, which this team needs. It needs somebody that's able to put the ball in the basket. He can shoot the three-pointer. He's got a good mid-range game and he can also go down on the post. He reminds me a little bit of Ricky Pierce, whom I played with in Indiana. He's a little bit smaller, a little bit undersized in that position, but he uses his body so well. He's able to get a shot off anytime he wants to. The big thing is getting his timing back. It will be a big summer for him as well. We'll expect him to play in the summer league, where he can get some of that timing back and play a lot of minutes and get his conditioning where it needs to be and get his confidence back.
Q: In summation, why should fans be excited about these three young talents?
Hoiberg: I think these three show, first and foremost, a tremendous work ethic, a tremendous desire to get better. They all want to be great players. They've shown the ability to compete with the best players in this league even as rookies. I think sometimes we forget how young these players are. It's going to be an important summer for them to work on their games and get better, because these guys are the future of this organization. We feel pretty good about that. If they continue to work and get to where we think they can get it's going to be a bright future for this organization.
Q: While there is plenty to be excited about with those young players, the identity of the organization remains Kevin Garnett. As someone who knows KG better than almost anybody in the league, what stands out to you?
Hoiberg: Kevin's a tremendous leader by example for these guys. I've never been around a person that works as hard as him, has the desire to win as much as him. These guys will look back on their careers and realize how fortunate they were to play with him because of his work ethic. I think some guys come in with the expectation that this league is going to be easy. Kevin Garnett is who he is because of his work ethic. He continues to come in early. He always stays after practice lifting weights, getting shots up. After back-to-back, forty-five minute games, he'll practice and practice hard like it's another game. He is a great player because of that, and these guys see that. Kevin's work ethic will rub off on them. He's a special person, a special player, continuing to play and putting up great numbers. 23 points, 12 rebounds again this season. His blocked shots are up. It's going to be an important summer for us to figure out where we're going to go with the direction of this team and what pieces we're going to try to put around these guys. We'll see what happens. But as long as Kevin Garnett's on your team, I think you have a chance.
Q: How beneficial will it be for head coach Randy Wittman to have a full offseason to prepare for next season?
Hoiberg: Randy will have his own training camp next year where he'll be able to put in his own philosophies and his own system. I think it's going to be an important summer for him to put his system in with these guys and run it in the summer league, and then have guys in here to get comfortable with the system for a full year. It's tough halfway through a season to put in your own philosophies and systems, and it will be better next year with him having his own training camp. Hopefully, that will carry over into the season.
Q: How has your transition to the front office been as the franchise pushes towards its future in basketball operations?
Hoiberg: It's been tough this season because I think we had higher expectations for this team. I'm learning as much as I can. It's been a great learning year for me, a lot of things have happened, and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can. My focus right now is on the upcoming draft and covering as many areas and players as we can because we don't know where our picks are going to be. Or if you acquire a pick, buy one or you make a trade to acquire a pick. So you have to be prepared for anything, and I think we are very well prepared. We've been on the road a lot this season, all of our front-office staff, and we're going to be ready.