Scrimmage Showed Talent of New Players and Old
The Wolves hosted a Summer League scrimmage at Target Center on Wednesday night, giving fans an opportunity to see some familiar faces that have been on the team, the two new kids that were drafted this year and many unfamiliar faces that showed up and played hard.
There were nearly 6,000 fans out to see Shabazz Muhammad, Alexey Shved, Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III get their first game-like action of the season—Gorgui Dieng, who is also on the Summer League squad, was ill on Wednesday night and unable to play.
Each one of those guys showcased something special on Wednesday, and here are some of their skill-sets:
From the day that LaVine was drafted, coach Flip Saunders has been invested in increasing his ball-handling skills. At UCLA, LaVine says he played a combo one-two guard, though in Wednesday night’s contest he focused on playing the point.
He showed that he has good floor vision, finishing with about five assists through the scrimmage’s 30 minutes. He also proved that he is the type of two-way player that Saunders touted him as following the draft. He had a block against Alexey Shved out on the wing early in the game, and was constantly aware of his defensive assignments.
But it wasn’t just fundamentals LaVine showed, it was the flash and quick step that made him turn heads in college and brought cheers from the fans at Target Center.
LaVine had great acceleration in transition, pushing the ball up the court sometimes faster than his teammates could run an outlet. After making Allen Iverson references when people asked about his weight and quickness in practices this week, LaVine showed that this comparison might not be a complete stretch.
Though he’s very lean and admitted he needs to spend more time in the weight room, it was this quick step that allowed him to get around defenders. His court vision also helped him finish plays, whether in points for himself or an assist to a teammate.
Finally, his legendary hops. After the scrimmage, Saunders let the teams show off a little bit, running 3-man weaves down the floor ending in dunks. LaVine wowed the crowd—and even some of his teammates—with his high jump and control with the ball.
“I told him that he was turning up the pace so I had to turn up the pace,” Shabazz Muhammad said of LaVine’s performance after the scrimmage. “It was really fun. He's a tremendous player. He's going to be really good and like I said he's a guy that really wants to learn so it's going to be a good Summer League for us.”
See some of the team's high-flying dunks here.
Glenn Robinson III
After being chosen in the second round of this year’s draft, Robinson III has had a chip on his shoulder so far through mini-camp practices and the scrimmage. He came out hustling on all sides of the ball, trying to prove to his teammates and coaches that he has what it takes to be effective in the NBA.
He grabbed tough rebounds in the low paint against players much taller and more experienced than him. Defensively, his long wingspan caused problems for a few players’ passing lanes and shot-taking abilities.
And, most importantly, he proved he wasn’t afraid to take a shot with hands in his face. He looked poised taking jumpers, confident in his stroke and form.
Shved, the most veteran Wolves player on the Summer League team and in Wednesday’s scrimmage, had a quiet game. He was able to draw fouls on cuts through the lane, and he provided some real NBA experience for his team.
Largely, Shved looked similar to how he played most of last season. He’s a solid ball handler, but his shot struggled to fall during parts of the scrimmage. During Summer League, the Wolves coaching staff has been encouraging him to work on his conditioning, so look for more of that as the games in Las Vegas begin this weekend.
Muhammad has been working on conditioning for most of the offseason and much of the team’s mini-camp this week. He showed that it is paying off through his aggressive play, his hustle and extra effort on the court.
He was one of the leading scorers for the teams and the most vocal man on the court for either side. Coupled with ability to create contact and knock down shots, he was one of the most skilled players on the court.
“He kept running and I try to tell him to slow down a little bit it's a practice still, but it was fun,” LaVine said about his and Muhammad’s mini rivalry on the court on Wednesday. “We do that in practice, but we're usually on the same team so it was a little bit different for the scrimmage today but it was still fun.”