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First Impression At Summer League Practice

Dane Mizutani
Web Editorial Assistant

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Flip Saunders has preached throughout the offseason that he wants the Wolves to be a high-energy, up-tempo squad next season. And it’s clear from the first Summer League practice that that mentality isn’t exclusive to games. 

It sure didn’t look like a casual offseason workout Monday night at Target Center as the intensity was present from the first whistle of the afternoon to the last whistle at around 7:50 p.m.

“I’ve always believed that basketball is a game of reaction and we have to simulate pressure and demands of what’s going to happen in a game in a practice,” Saunders said. “We try to make it as difficult as we can to try and make it as close to a game time setting as possible.”

That was obvious from the effort players, and even coaches, exerted at Monday’s practice. It ended with a brief 10-minute scrimmage and — whether it was Shabazz Muhammad stepping in the lane and taking a charge or assistants Sid Lowe and Sam Mitchell screaming at the top of their lungs — it was clear that no one wanted to lose.

“I felt like the intensity was on another level with Flip being the main guy in charge with our practice,” Muhammad said. “I thought it was a great practice and I thought we went really hard.”

In the end the scrimmage ended and the team comprised of Summer League starters — Alexey Shved, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III, and Gorgui Dieng — beat the team of Summer League reserves 22-11.

LaVine most notably stood out with his speed, athleticism, and playmaking ability on the court.

“If there’s a competition, I’m someone that wants to win,” LaVine said. “I went out there and did my best to make plays and we won the game. That’s the bottom line for me.”

Robinson III said he enjoyed the intensity and said, even though he expected it, the practice was a bit of a wakeup call.

“It’s a whole different level … and this is definitely the most competitive and amped up practice [I’ve been a part of] physically and mentally,” Robinson III said. “It’ll take a little adjustment to get to but I thought we all did fine.”

The Summer League practice ended with a shoot around session in which most of the players looked wore down.

“I know all the guys were gassed,” Saunders said with a grin. “They had no idea the tempo of what practice was going to be like this afternoon. They’ll get used to it.”