Price Showing Veteran Experience In Wolves Camp

Price Showing Veteran Experience In Wolves Camp

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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A.J. Price continues to battle each day. In many ways, he feels like that’s the only situation he’s known in this league. Price is entering the 2013-14 season having played 207 games over the past four seasons and has never appeared in fewer than 44 games in a season during that stretch.

Still, there are no guarantees. He is one of four players trying to secure that final spot on the Wolves’ roster this preseason, so every impression he can make this month matters. That’s nothing new. During his time in Indiana and Washington over the past four years, he’s always felt like he had something to prove.

“You can’t take anything for granted,” Price said. “It makes us appreciate it that much more, just to have the opportunity to be here.”

So far this preseason, Price has made the most of his opportunities. As an NBA veteran who has played in offensive systems similar to the one coach Rick Adelman runs, he’s been able to jump in and be pretty familiar with the style the Wolves are running in camp. He was part of the Wolves’ second-half comeback last Monday against CSKA Moscow—scoring all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime while shooting 5-of-6 over the final 17 minutes of the game.

He followed that up with 10 points against the Bucks in Sioux Falls on Thursday while also adding three assists and two steals.

He’s competing for that final spot with Lorenzo Brown, Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers, and every time he takes the court he’s looking to make the most of his opportunity. Price’s main attribute on this roster is that veteran presence he can bring at the point guard position. Being able to back up Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea while keeping the team in rhythm is the main thing Price is called to do in that role, and given his experience in the league he’s hoping to do just that.

When he’s able to get in space and create for his teammates, that’s when he feels the most comfortable.

“Any time you’ve been around, you know, you’ve seen different sets, played against these guys before,” Price said. “It’s familiarity. It makes it a lot more comfortable for me. Any time you’re comfortable with something, it makes it easier. So to come in, be familiar with sets, be familiar with how he wants the offense ran makes it easier for me.”

As a whole, the second unit has stood out this preseason because of that experience. It’s helped him pick things up quickly and demonstrate them to the coaching staff. He showcased that late-game poise against CSKA Moscow last week.

“He was really good, and we were doing a lot of things we hadn’t done [on Monday] at the end of the game, because guys were tired,” Adelman said. “I wanted to see what pick-and-rolls were going to look like. Alexey [Shved] and him, they did all right.”

It’s not always easy to go into preseason play without knowing if you’ll make the team or not, but Price is going about this opportunity in Minnesota with an all-in approach. If he does the little things each day, it will put himself in position to succeed. He’s been though all this before, and he’s found a place in the league each year. This time around, the Training Camp shot at a roster spot comes in Minnesota.

He’s coming off his best statistical season in Washington a year ago. He filled in for the Wizards’ injured starter, John Wall, for 22 games a season ago. He averaged a career-best 7.7 points per game, shot 39.0 percent from the field and hit a career-high 35.0 percent from 3-point range. He also had a career-high 3.6 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game.

He’s hoping that experience, along with his focused play every day at practice and in preseason games, will land him a spot on this Wolves roster.

“I’m trying to get better every day,” Price said, “to continue to work hard.”

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