Get To Know: Greg Stiemsma

Editor’s Note: Throughout August, profiled each of the new members of the Wolves’ roster. In the final installment, Part 7 takes a look at Greg Stiemsma, who signed with Minnesota on Aug. 2 after a breakout 2011 campaign with the Boston Celtics.

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Age: 26
Height: 6-foot-11
Weight: 260 pounds
Drafted: N/A
College: Wisconsin
Experience: 1 year
Position: Center

How Acquired: The Timberwolves signed Stiemsma on Aug. 2 as a free agent.

Past Experience: Stiemsma took a roundabout journey back to the Minnesota Timberwolves organization. After playing collegiately for the University of Wisconsin, the Randolph, Wis., native went undrafted and spent time playing in Turkey and South Korea before getting a shot with the Wolves in April 2010. He didn’t play in any games during his brief first stint with the Wolves and spent time in Turkey and the NBA Development League before getting a shot with the Boston Celtics in 2011. With Boston, Stiemsma earned a reputation for shot blocking and became a solid defensive presence off the bench as the Celtics made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. He finished the season averaging 2.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in 13.9 minutes per game. He appeared in 55 games for Boston during the regular season and 19 more in the playoffs.

What He’ll Bring To Minnesota: Stiemsma’s primary role with this team will be defense. He averaged 4.0 blocked shots per 36 minutes a year ago, which will be a welcomed addition off the bench. The Wolves were 11th in the NBA last season with 5.1 blocks per game, but with a revamped roster the Wolves were looking for a player this offseason who could fill that role. The other facet of Stiemsma’s game he’ll immediately bring to the team is his work ethic. After going undrafted, Stiemsma’s journey internationally and through the D-League, as well as being signed and waived by Minnesota earlier in his career, gave him perspective on how hard it is to make it in the NBA. He said in his introductory press conference those experiences made him realize what it would take to stay in the league full time.

“It kind of gave me a taste of reality, too,” Stiemsma said of his first stint with Minnesota. “How hard it is to stay in this league, and how hard it is to get back. It adds to the whole appreciation to the opportunity I’ve been given.”

Where He’ll Fit In: Minnesota’s front court depth looks drastically different than it did in 2011. Part of the Wolves’ strategy this summer was bolstering its wing play and clearing salary cap room, and as a direct result Minnesota traded or declined re-signing a significant portion of its front court. Darko Milicic was amnestied, Brad Miller retired, and Anthony Randolph was not brought back. That left Pekovic and Kevin Love as the two players still on the roster who can play the 5. With the addition of Stiemsma, Minnesota now has a center who can come in off the bench and provide a defensive presence in the paint. The Wolves still could be looking to add one more big to their front court, but the combination of Pekovic and Stiemsma give Minnesota a respectable 1-2 punch at center.

Wolves Connections: Aside from joining the Timberwolves in on April 10, 2010 through being waived that September, Stiemsma played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Minnesota’s D-League affiliate, and was the NBDL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10. In Boston, Stiemsma played with Wolves legend Kevin Garnett and said he learned a lot from the perennial All-Star. He said Garnett was willing to teach, had a high knowledge of the game and was willing to explain things to make sure he understood it. “I’m very fortunate to play with a guy like that who has so much experience,” Stiemsma said.

Quotable: “I’m excited to be here, excited to be back. The organization has grown since the last time I was here, and I’m excited to be part of it. I’m excited to be part of these fans, and it feels good to be home. Being so close to where I grew up, where I played college basketball and the journey I’ve been on since then, I’m excited to just continue the journey here. Hopefully play some of the roles I did last year, some of the consistency on the defensive end, the blocked shots, rebound, and just the presence inside.”
—Wolves center Greg Stiemsma during his introductory press conference

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