Ronny Turiaf | 2013-14 Profile

Wolves center Ronny Turiaf just wrapped up his first season with the team after signing last summer. Turiaf brought a strong veteran presence, as well as energy, to the locker room.
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by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

Editor’s Note: Throughout the next month, Timberwolves.com will take a look back at the Wolves’ 2013-14 roster individually and look ahead to the upcoming offseason and 2014-15 campaign. Part VII looks back on Ronny Turiaf’s first year with the team.

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Ronny Turiaf

C | 6-foot-10, 241 pounds

2013-14 season: 31 GP, 19.5 MPG, .498 FG%, 4.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.6 BPG

Ronny Turiaf joined the Wolves during the offseason as a free agent and immediately brought the team a veteran presence. That was what the team hoped to get from him, and although Turiaf battled injuries this year he was still able to have that type of impact on the locker room. He was near the team regardless of his health, and when he did play he gave the Wolves a big off the bench that understood his role and how he can impact a game.

Turiaf has never been a player who logged big minutes or put up big numbers on the box score. His 4.8 points and 3.5 shot attempts per game last year with the Wolves were the most he’d averaged since 2009-10. Yet he’s been on playoff teams in almost every stop he’s made in the NBA—including winning an NBA title in Miami in 2011-12-and although the Timberwolves didn’t make the postseason this year they did win 40 games for the first time since 2005.

Turiaf worked with Gorgui Dieng during the season and helped with his development, and he always kept the locker room loose with his genuine personality. He would on occasion blast tunes with French lyrics out of his speakers at his locker, and he engaged media members as actively as anyone on the team—even when it came to pregame banter.

Coach Rick Adelman commented from time to time how good of a teammate Turiaf was to have around.

The biggest downfall for Turiaf this season was his missed time. He missed 31 games due to a radial fracture on his right elbow and 19 more later in the year with a bruised right knee.

When he was gone, the Wolves were short-handed at center. Dieng wasn’t fully ready to take on big minutes until later in the season, and starting center Nikola Pekovic battled his own injuries in February and beyond.

But when Turiaf came back to the court, you could tell the impact he had—especially when he was used in the role he was intended to play, a spark-plug up front off the bench.

“I definitely felt appreciated, and it felt good to be welcomed back,” Turiaf said after returning from his elbow injury on Jan. 6 against the 76ers—a 126-95 win. “To see [your] teammates happy, see your teammates excited for you, that’s what this team sport is all about.”

Turiaf had one other special connection this year in Minnesota. Just after Turiaf was drafted by the Lakers in 2005, he was told he needed to undergo open-heart surgery. He went through that procedure and rehabilitation at about the same time as former Wolves player Fred Hoiberg, and the two have been close ever since. During the 2013-14 season, when Turiaf joined the Timberwolves, he elected to wear Hoiberg’s No. 32.

Hoiberg retired from playing after his surgery and began a career as an executive and, currently, the Iowa State men’s basketball coach. Turiaf began his playing career after recovering and is still going strong at the NBA level.

“I live vicariously through him,” Hoiberg said last summer. “Watching him succeed, it’s awesome.”

Ronny Turiaf’s Top Games

April 2 vs. Memphis: The Wolves had a merry-go-round at center this year as Turiaf and Nikola Pekovic traded injury stretches and Gorgui Dieng continued to develop. At one point in late-February, the Wolves were starting Kevin Love at the 5 to alleviate the issue. But in early-April, Turiaf returned after missing 19 games with a knee injury and thrived in his return. He had 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in a 102-88 win over the Grizzlies. He also added seven boards, two assists and three blocks in the victory.

January 27 at Chicago: Nikola Pekovic unexpectedly went down with an ankle injury early in Minnesota’s matchup with the Bulls at United Center in late-January, but Minnesota got a big game from Turiaf to help ease the blow. Turiaf played 32 minutes in the game—his most to date during the season—and scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He also brought down seven rebounds and had three blocked shots. Turiaf was an often-overlooked rim protector during the season because he missed so much time, but when he was in the game he certainly made his presence felt around the basket at select moments.

February 19 vs. Indiana: After dropping four games under .500 in early February, the Wolves knew they needed to have a strong showing heading into the All-Star Break and beyond to stay in playoff contention. They got a win against Denver before the break, but they needed a win against red-hot Indiana to keep momentum going right after All-Star. Turiaf was a big part of that. He played 30 minutes and was in the starting lineup, and by the night’s end he had 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, two blocks and a steal. The Wolves won 104-91, and players like Turiaf and Rubio (17 assists) helped ensure Kevin Love’s 42 points didn’t go to waste.

Top Offseason Objectives

Turiaf is a veteran who has been through a lot during his career. He’s overcome open-heart surgery, he’s played on playoff teams, he’s lost in the NBA Finals and he’s experienced what it’s like to spend an offseason as an NBA champion. There isn’t much Turiaf, who will enter his 10th season next year, hasn’t seen before. The Key for Turiaf is to get healthy and get his body prepared for 2014-15. He missed a significant amount of time this year due to elbow and knee injuries, and if he’s able to come back with full conditioning next year he will be in good shape. Turiaf will also spend some time this offseason working with Basketball Without Borders while splitting time between the Twin Cities and his native Martinique. He’ll be a world traveler this summer.

They Said It…

“The edge is always going to be there, regardless, because that's what drives me to be a better person and a better basketball player and just work on my craft. When something is taken away from you, you just realize how important it is. You might be able to take something for granted—X, Y and Z, whatever that may be—then you realize 'jeez, I really miss playing with those guys. I really miss going out there and battling and stuff.' So as frustrating as this season was on the basketball court as far as these silly injuries that prevent me from having a full season like I wanted to, it was very uplifting for me to be able to see my teammates wanted me to be out there.”— Wolves center Ronny Turiaf after returning to the court on April 2.