Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Kings
Web Editorial Associate
While injuries and undetermined rotations leave parts of both rosters uncertain, Nikola Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins will be tonight’s heavyweight matchup near the hoop to kick off the Timberwolves’ 2012-2013 season.
“We know that you have to deal with a man down there,” Sacramento coach Keith Smart said of Pekovic. “He takes up the space and needs more help. He’s done it to every big man in the NBA—he likes the physical contact. We’re prepared for it, we just have to make sure he doesn’t get too many easy, deep, paint catches. That’s where he’ll hurt you.”
Where Pekovic is known for his efficiency and strength down low, Cousins brings a different element with his athleticism and mid-range jumper.
“Cousins has the ability to play out on the floor,” Smart said of his young star. “He shoots the ball pretty well, and he’s a good rebounder, so we don’t have to lock him into just being a post-up guy. That’s one luxury I have with him. He’s unique, you don’t find too many guys that are that gifted. Offensively, what we can do with our big guys, is we don’t have to localize in one area.”
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman had similar praise for Cousins.
“Cousins is a real handful,” Adelman said. “He’s really a good player. He can step out and shoot the ball, he can post up…he’s got good instincts and is a decent passer. He can really take the game over.”
The media asked Pekovic if he was ready for a matchup against a player with similar size and strength to his. True to form, he didn’t back down from the challenge.
“He’s a good player, great player,” Pekovic said, “but I will never surrender. I will always give my best. He’s playing really good in this preseason, so it will be tough. We will see.
“Everyone is really excited about tonight; we will be ready.”
Added Balance to Minnesota’s Roster
Coach Smart gave high praise to the Timberwolves front office when he noted the improvements made over the offseason.
“They have a longer, more professional roster,” Smart said after shootaround. “You are always trying to get more proven, professional players to the roster. Brandon Roy, [Andrei] Kirilenko, there’s nothing throughout the season that’s going to faze them. When you add those two guys back, it becomes a team that’s pretty deep. The top eight, top seven strategy is going out the window, because teams are seeing the need to go to ten or 11 guys.
“This team has done that with their roster additions, we try to do the same thing with ours. All the teams are trying to move that way within the rules of the cap.”