Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Magic | Oct. 30, 2013

Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Magic | Oct. 30, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

As Ricky Rubio sees it, the time is now. All the ups and downs the Timberwolves have endured over the past two seasons—since coach Rick Adelman took over and since Rubio’s rookie year—have led to this point. As Minnesota tips off for tonight’s 25th regular season opener in franchise history, there is no question about where the team envisions this season heading.

“We are going to try to build something, because we’ve been working hard the last 2-3 years,” Rubio said. “It’s time. It’s time to do it.”

They’ll get their first shot tonight against the Orlando Magic. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Target Center on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. Minnesota is healthy (aside from Chase Budinger’s knee surgery), they’re motivated and they’re feeling the love of the fan base. Robbie Hummel said yesterday he can feel the embrace of the Minnesota community around this team, and now it’s time to get things rolling on the court.

This does feel like a bit of a work in progress over the past three years. When Adelman took over, the team took off during the lockout shortened year and elevated themselves not only to an above-.500 record in March but a spot in the Western Conference’s top 8. Then the injuries set in—first with Rubio’s ACL in March 2012 and then the slew of injuries that happened last season.

But underlying the downs were the ups. The roster is completely transformed to fit Adelman and new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders’ identities. From that 2011-12 team, only Rubio, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, J.J. Barea and Derrick Williams remain. Accompanying them is a collection of players that fit a specific purpose. Corey Brewer runs the fast break and plays energetic defense. Kevin Martin is sharp-shooter from the perimeter. Ronny Turiaf brings championship experience and rim protection.

So on and so forth.

Love is quick to point that out. Clearly the Wolves are built around the himself, Rubio and Pekovic, but it’s going to be the pieces across the lineup that make this team successful because it takes balance to take the next step.

“We know that between [us] three guys we have to set the tone,” Love said. “But we have K-Mart, Brew, that kind of made out the starting lineup, and then we have guys that bring a lot of energy in practice every day. We’re happy to have them with us, and they’re really going to help us.”

Tonight, the Wolves get an Orlando team that is coming off a 97-87 loss to the Pacers in Indiana on Tuesday night, and they didn’t shoot around this morning. They shot 38.7 percent from the floor in the loss, were blocked 18 times (seven from Roy Hibbert, five from David West) and got to the line just 10 times. But they also got 18 points off the bench from Andrew Nicholson, 14 from Moe Harkless and 12 each from Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson.

The Wolves will look to contain that back court who, along with 2-guard Arron Afflalo, have definite scoring potential.

“They’re a young team with talent,” Rubio said. “They can score shots, and I mean, we’re going to try to do our game but they got a lot of talent.”

Quick Hits

  • The Wolves are excited about playing on their home court, but they want to try and contain their emotions. Sometimes teams come out and want to play so hard for their home crowd that they rush themselves, Love said. “I’m very happy to play in front of this crowd, because they’ve been amazing since Day 1,” Rubio added. “I’m really excited to play in front of them.”

  • Shabazz Muhammad said he’s gotten some tips from veterans about the speed of the game in the regular season, and he’s excited to have a chance to play in his first NBA game. It’s something he’s thought about since he was a kid. But he said he’s prepared to fill whatever role the Wolves want him to fill: “When my opportunity comes and my number’s called, I’m going to play hard and do the best I can.”

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.