Practice Report | Oct. 29, 2013

Practice Report | Oct. 29, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves coach Rick Adelman was candid and jovial all at once on Tuesday when talking about his starting small forward situation. Bottom line: He and the coaching staff haven’t decided who exactly would have his name called in the starting lineup tomorrow night against the Orlando Magic at Target Center.

“We’ll have somebody,” Adelman said, laughing. “We’ll have somebody.”

It’s not so much a question of who will start, but how the rotation as a whole will work. Adelman wants to find the right balance of who fits where in the grand scheme of a 48-minute game, and that will take some time. Whoever he decides will start on opening night might not be the same person who starts later in the week, but it’s a work in progress.

Minnesota is essentially working with Corey Brewer, Derrick Williams, Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel in that small forward role. Brewer is the lone player in that group that is predominately a 3—Williams and Hummel split time at the 4, and Muhammad is a rookie who was drafted to be a potential swingman. Dante Cunningham also got a start at the 3 in the preseason. With Chase Budinger still injured, it feels like the puzzle pieces are sitting there waiting to find the right fit.

And based on Adelman’s reaction on Tuesday, that will probably remain the case leading into tomorrow night.

“We’re looking at the whole thing,” Adelman said. “It really doesn’t matter who the starter is; it’s what rotation you’re going to use throughout the whole game. Like I said, it could be tomorrow. We could have somebody different the third game. Right now, it’s about what’s the best rotation for our team. That’s what we really haven’t decided yet.”

Brewer brings the most experience and likely the most battle-tested defensive acumen at the NBA level, and he also is a threat to run the fast break. But he was a pivotal sixth man in Denver, and that energy off the bench seems to be enticing Adelman a bit. Williams is still viewed a bit more as a 4 than a 3, but his progress this season is noticeable. Hummel and Muhammad, as rookies this year, will continue to showcase their abilities on both ends of the floor and earn their roles.

Wolves forward Kevin Love said he doesn’t mind not knowing right now who will be the starting small forward or how the rotation will look. That will work itself out.

“Whether we mix up guys throughout the starting lineup, we just have to find a good fit,” Love said.

There’s a little bit of uncertainty that goes along with this, but the other side of the equation is the Wolves are more balanced than they have been in years past. Not a lot of NBA experience at the 3, but they have athletes and shooters that are options to fill the role.

“We’ve got guys—we’ve got talent,” guard J.J. Barea said. “We’ve got a couple guys at every position. We’re a little more comfortable, so now we have to go out and play hard. If we go out and play hard, we’ll be fine.”

The (Official) Return Of Love, Rubio And Pek

Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic played a total of 13 minutes together last year. If things go according to plan, they’ll probably eclipse that in the first half of tomorrow night’s game against the Magic.

You can tell during camp they’re pumped to get this opportunity together after losing so much time to injury a year ago. For Wolves fans, this Wednesday game at Target Center is a chance to see the group back together again.

Love said it feels like second nature getting back out there with Rubio and Pekovic, but it’s still a work in progress getting better and better together. If Minnesota is to make the playoffs and have success in the future, these three will need to lead the way.

“We’re all unselfish players,” Love said. “So we’re going to look for each other out there, try to play together. I mentioned cohesiveness and continuity and playing together. We’re going to need that here in our first 10-15 games.”

The key is to get Love, Rubio and Pekovic rolling early with the help of key contributors across the board. Having Kevin Martin at the 2-guard spot gives them a proven scorer at a position the Wolves have normally lacked depth. Off the bench, Minnesota feels confident in guys like Barea, Dante Cunningham and Ronny Turiaf bringing energy and keeping the team rolling.

“I think we’re pretty solid off the bench,” Adelman said. “I really believe our bench can be very effective. It may take us some time to figure out how that’s going to be used, because we’ve got some guys who have played very well and guys that I wouldn’t hesitate to put in the game.”

Quick Hits

  • The Wolves open up Wednesday night at home against the Magic. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at Target Center. Be sure to come in early and take in all the pregame sights/sounds. There will also be a skyway breakfast in Target Center tomorrow morning from 6-9 a.m. Donuts, juice and coffee will be passed out to commuters, and there will also be a plinko game and other prize giveaways. Be sure to stop by.

  • Robbie Hummel talked a little bit on Tuesday about playing Kevin Love in AAU basketball while the two were in high school. He faced Love’s team, which also included Pistons guard Brandon Jennings. “The outlet passes he would throw when we were in high school to Brandon Jennings—it was incredible. It was like a one-man fast break. He’d get the break going, and there was nothing you could do about it.”

  • J.J. Barea said he spent some time at the University of Minnesota working a bit with the Gophers recently. Gophers coach Richard Pitino was an assistant coach at Northeastern during Barea’s senior year in 2005-06. Barea said the Gophers looked good and that they’re in good hands with Pitino. He also joked that when he isn’t much younger than Pitino, so when they were at Northeastern together the young coach didn’t have a lot of seniority. “He was young, and I was a senior in college. He couldn’t say nothing to me, you know?” Barea joked.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.