Simons Says - Nov. 1, 2012

It’s here! The NBA season has arrived and for the Timberwolves, a 24th year in the Twin Cities.

Two game nights into the season and already some interesting story lines have developed. The highly touted L.A. Lakers are ofer after two games of befuddlement and blandness. Miami came out of the gate nicely against KG and crew (more on The Ticket’s snubbing of ol’ friend and Title Ring-mate Ray Allen in a bit) and how about the Mavs? Did you see their opening night fury against the LakeShow?! Impressive.

Ready or not, injuries to K-Love and Ricky Rubio duly noted, the Wolves are finally on the radar and these players love it. It’s why they came to play in Rick Adelman’s system. It’s why they signed up for the cold winters here. It flies in the face of those media reports drummed up suggesting that it’s hard for teams to get players to come to Minnesota because of the weather.

I had a great conversation with back-up guard Will Conroy that will air this weekend on GameON! (airtimes at the bottom of the blog). Will-Con and I went down the roster talking about the make-up of the team. Yes, on an ability scale not in terms of race (still seething about that newspaper “story”…but not going there today).

Will-Con is a childhood chum of new Wolves guard and former Portland all-star Brandon Roy. As you might expect, they know each other’s every move. I’ll meet you making your move left. I got that blocked shot…knew it was coming. That kind of friendship. Will-Con tells me it’s warmed his heart to see his buddy, B-Roy, get back on the court and play as he’s playing. Conroy says it’s not a mirage. Not a mistake. It’s the real Roy deal.

Will recounted their first trip to the court. “Shortly after he had the procedure on his knee, we were back on the court and he pulled this dunk on me. I wasn’t expecting it. I said, ‘Dang, I want some of that.’ Brandon (as Will calls him) is healthy, hungry to show people he’s still Brandon and he’s happy.”

Roy is just one of the pieces that made up a busy Minnesota offseason. An offseason that brought Conroy to the team (Conroy played for Adelman in Houston) and others. Will-Con likes former Rockets mate Chase Budinger a ton. “He’ll surprise a lot of people this season because he can score and defend. Chase can flat out play.”

Conroy’s most glowing praise came for a veteran who many people are just realizing is here. I’ve been talking since his signing about Andrei Kirilenko and it is AK who wows Conroy and many other teammates in practice. “An amazing passer. ‘A’ can play defense too…in fact, I was on the break twice and zipped a pass that I was sure was perfect…Kirilenko stepped in and snapped it right out of the blue. That guy can just ball.”

Will-Con doesn’t heap praise but instead, delivers it with a reason why. For instance, Dante Cunningham. Big guy, likes good shots and loves to bang. Nikola Pekovic: “Maaaan, he’s a beast. Glad he’s on our team. Practices as hard as he plays.” Luke Ridnour: “Took me and my money when Oregon pounded my Huskies.” And Brandon Roy. “He’ll prove it with his game.” Will-Con agrees that this is a Wolves team that can’t take any opponent for granted and he’s confident they’ll get the job done while waiting for the return of a healthy Kevin Love and Rubio.

It’s time to play. Can’t wait for the tip.

SimonsSays: My picks!

Starting in the East, after watching Miami handle the nicely retooled Celtics, the Heat have to get the nod. They are better than last year and if D-Wade plays bigger than last year, they’ll get to the Finals to defend their crown.

I still like the Celtics. Not sold on Indiana, Brooklyn or the patchwork Knicks. I defy the experts and see Chicago as a challenge even if D-Rose is missing. Look out for the 76ers especially if they are healthy.

In the West. What a blockbuster by OKC to trade James Harden as the season starts to the Rockets. Harden responds by showing up to his first game, signing an $80M extension and busting for 37 points on 14-of-25 shooting, 12 assists in 44 minutes and in a win over the Pistons. Wow!

I had been preaching the Lakers in the West but I’m fudging on that now. I just can’t give it to OKC for Seattle reasons so I’ll reluctantly stick with LAL to win the West (reserving the right to change my mind), OKC, San Antonio, Denver, and in the pack will be LAC, the Timberwolves, Memphis and Dallas. Yes, the playoffs will be back and basketball for a reason in mid-April will warm the hearts of hoopaholics everywhere in the upper Midwest.

A few notes from the SimonsSays pre-season mailbag at rod@gameontvmn.com

Why won’t you give some love to Oklahoma City!? Yes, not OKC but Oklahoma City. What’s your problem? –Unnamed- via GameON! Email

Thanks for leaving your name for starters. A fair question and since this is part journalist and part Wolves fan writing this blog each and every week and discussing it on my TV show GameON!, it boils down to a fans loyalty. What it the Twins had been contracted or the Wolves moved shortly after they entered the NBA and they then became the Florida Twins or Oklahoma City Timberwolves? Being a Sonics fan (and now Wolves rube) for all those years, enjoying the highs and getting through the lows, you build up emotions that are just non-negotiable. I certainly see the business side of it but nonetheless, I’m not a fan of moving franchises and even though I had moved our family to Minnesota and was raising our daughter here well before the Clay Bennett/Howard Schultz transaction, that Seattle-OKC relocation stung. JUST as “contraction” is a four-letter word to Twins fans and Wolves fans would feel the same way. It’s OK to admit you care about your team. I’m fortunate to call Crunch a friend and be a big fan of this team. It makes the lows manageable and the high’s sweet. There. Cards are on the table. In this blog, its OKC chum. Thanks for the note. Now, what’s your name?!

Soon (and I know I promised for this week but…)I’ll bring in our GameON! TV Fantasy Guru to size up the NBA and we’ll double team our predictions. So, enjoy the Wolves start to the NBA ride ahead. And keep your GameON!

We’re all on MY@29!

You know that GameON! is on FOX’s MY29 and the Wolves opener against Sacramento will be on LIVE Friday night. The Wolves will offer a franchise-record 78 regular-season games will be televised locally, including 50 on Fox Sports North and 25 on the Wolves' exclusive over-the-air broadcast home, WFTC My29. For the second consecutive season, every Wolves regular season contest will be carried live on News Radio 830 WCCO-AM. The 2012-13 Wolves Home Opener against Sacramento will begin a string of 36 consecutive televised games to start the season.

See you on TV

Catch your Wolves on this Sunday’s GameON! this week!! You don’t want to miss the Emmy nominated GameON! powered by SEVEN Steakhouse Sushi Ultralounge & Skybar this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 at 10:30AM. Our special guests controversial Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and as we mentioned earlier, Wolves guard Will Conroy. All GameON! shows are broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online at www.gameontvmn.com.

GameON! powered by SEVEN allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans @ our weekly tapings next door to Target Center at SEVEN (7th and Hennepin). GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). You can friend us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@GameOnTvMn.com. GameON! is also seen in North and South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays at Timberwolves.com.

Keep your GameON! See you soon!


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