Training Camp Report: Day 4 | Oct. 4, 2013

Training Camp Report: Day 4 | Oct. 4, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Wolves broke camp on Friday afternoon and made their way back from Minnesota State University, Mankato with one very important thing in mind—through the first week of practices, only minor nicks and bruises to report. No major injuries detected.

That might not sound like much, but it’s a small victory for a Wolves team that limped through the regular season last year. This time around the team feels they’re stronger and deeper than a season ago, but they certainly need to stay healthy. That’s one of the key ingredients to success, which is tricky because it’s the one thing a team can’t control.

“We have to have our main guys,” Adelman said. “If we’re going to have a chance to succeed, we’ve got to have our main guys playing.”

Through four practices, it’s pretty apparent this team is geared to have success offensively. Barring the team stalling with its shot efficiency, the Wolves are showcasing a knack for moving the ball around their half court sets, crashing the boards and getting to the foul line. Kevin Martin said wing players are putting up 100 3-pointers per day, which for the 10-year veteran said he hadn’t really been a part of before. The comfort level with the starting five is where the team wanted it to be heading into their final two practices before Monday’s preseason opener against CSKA Moscow at Target Center.

The weaker area of the court, as expected since Day 1, has been defensively.

Adelman said you can tell this team has a myriad of scorers that will put up numbers. But how will they all mesh together on the defensive end? Right now, there is more focus on scoring than stopping the opposing team.

“We have a lot of offensive players, and their concentration is at that end. The concentration has to be at both ends,” Adelman said. “You can drill on everything in the world, and when they’re drilling they’re doing OK. But then as soon as they get out on the court, their concentration starts slipping. I’d say most of it is mental, and it’s something we have to, you know, once we start playing other teams we’ll find out real quick.”

Still, Adelman said after four days at camp the team accomplished a lot of what it wanted to heading into the weekend.

Tired Legs, But Worth It

The Wolves will play Monday at home against CSKA Moscow, Wednesday at Toronto, Thursday in Sioux Falls against Milwaukee and next Saturday at home again against the Raptors. That’s a lot of minutes for the preseason, including back-to-backs in the middle of the week.

How did Martin feel about that?

“Compared to Rick’s practices, I’d rather play every day in the preseason,” Martin said, laughing.

The Wolves are pretty aggressive in how they approach Training Camp, but it seems as though they’re very conscious of how the players are responding physical and adapt as needed. They also add in some self-inflicting conditioning throughout the scrimmages. In between quarters, Adelman sends a player to the line for free throws. It’s simple: If the player makes a pair, there are no sprints. If he makes one or two, the players run accordingly.

On Friday, they ran.

“It was their own doing,” Adelman said, smiling. “But I think hopefully in the next two days we’ll get a little more specific in doing things that cut down the time.”

Quick Hits

  • For me, there were four players who stood out the most during the first four days of camp: Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Corey Brewer and Shabazz Muhammad.

    Martin stood out because of his strong shooting and the way he lived up to his reputation of moving without the ball. He’s going to be a strong asset for this team—he finished 10th in the NBA with a 42.6 3-point shooting percentage last year.

    Pekovic was intense all week, showcasing the bruising presence and reputation he’s demonstrated the past two years. At one point Derrick Williams was switched over to guard Pekovic in the post, and Pekovic showed how he handles smaller defenders in the paint (It should also be noted D-Will was noticeably assertive offensively through much of Friday’s practice, too). But the thing that is most impressive about Pekovic is his work ethic in all aspects of practice. He works hard in the sprints, even finishing first during the set at the tail-end of practice.

    Brewer was solid defensively, as expected when he was signed this summer. He was praised by teammates for his energy, and he showcased how dangerous he can be in transition throughout the week. Brewer also knocked down shots from time to time from the corner, and on Friday he moved over to the wing just inside the arc and connected a few times, too. If he can defend, run the break and hit enough corner 3s to make the defense respect that threat, he’s going to be a strong asset.

    Muhammad was a surprise because he while he is known as a scorer, he garnered attention for his passing, his offensive rebounds and his overall hustle away from the ball this week. Yes, his shot looked good and he scored on the fast break, but the way he meshed with the offense and extended possessions was even more important.

  • The Wolves had a team-building event on Thursday night that included a little karaoke for rookie players and basketball operations staff members new to the organization. It included some intriguing renditions of some of your favorite hits. Said Martin: “It’s always good to have moments like that to get away from the game. We have some pretty entertaining rookies, so they did real well last night.”

  • It will be a busy day at Target Center on Saturday, as both the Lynx and Dream will have their final practice before Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday night. The Wolves will practice afterwards.

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