Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Bobcats
Web Editorial Associate
With day-to-day injured players Brandon Roy, JJ Barea and Nikola Pekovic all ruled out for tonight against the Bobcats, the remaining nine healthy Timberwolves are banding together more than ever.
The Wolves officially announced all three will not play tonight during this morning’s shootaround session. Starting lineup mainstays Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour will be joined by Malcolm Lee at shooting guard and Greg Stiemsma at center tonight, according to coach Rick Adelman.
“Everybody from the bottom up can play multiple positions,” forward Derrick Williams said. “We have shot-blockers, defensive stoppers, slashers, everybody. This year’s team is more about defense and getting out in transition and making plays.
“I’m not surprised at how well we’re doing, because I know how everyone is. It seems like every game someone is getting injured; I think we’ll be alright when people come back.”
Monday night’s shorthanded win over Dallas garnered national attention, but Minnesota doesn’t want any pity.
“We’re the kind of guys that aren’t going to make excuses,” Stiemsma said. “We don’t want people to make excuses for us. The crew that we have, we’re going to have.”
Adelman’s message after shootaround was clear: He has nine healthy players at his disposal. But once they get past Friday’s matchup against Golden State, there is a sizeable break where some of the lighter injuries may be able to be rehabilitated.
“I just keep hoping that on Friday we’ll get some guys back,” Adelman said. “JJ [Barea] is getting better, I think Pek is doing better, he seems to think it’s not that serious. JJ did some things out on the floor today. Again, that’s another situation where you only have nine guys.
“Then we have a four-day break. We just try to win these two games at home with the people we have, then we can get some guys back.”
Younger Players Getting Exposure
One possible benefit of a tough injury situation is the added game experience picked up by some of the Wolves’ younger players, namely Alexey Shved and Malcolm Lee.
“I’ve said it from the start, we’ve got a deep roster,” Stiemsma said. “They’re getting a chance to showcase that. Malcolm stepped up for us making plays, and Alexey has been cold-blooded for us. He’s played on a big stage, it’s not like it’s a new game for him. Just a different stage.”
Shved has played over 20 minutes in each of Minnesota’s last three games, averaging 11.3 points per game in that span. Lee had more than 23 minutes of playing time against Dallas, the most he has received in his career to date. Both players are certainly welcoming the chance to gain NBA experience, especially since they began the season with several veterans infront of them on the depth chart.
“We’re a deep team,” Williams said. “You never know who’s going to go off.”