Wolves Flash New Style In Preparation For Summer League
The Wolves roster could look a lot different when the NBA regular season opens up in about three months, but that’s all speculation at this point in the offseason. A guarantee about next year’s Wolves squad is that it will take a different identity on the court with Flip Saunders at the helm.
Saunders, who took over for the retiring Rick Adelman, has made it clear that he intends to employ an up-and-down style on the offensive end next year, with a hard-nosed style to match on the defensive end.
That much has been apparent throughout the four days of Summer League practice that started Monday night and wrapped up on Thursday afternoon. In that brief span players have grown accustom to intense workouts featuring tons of running, fast-paced offensive sets, and a defensive style that was a bit of a wakeup call for even some veterans on the team.
It’s definitely going to be different this season with Saunders as the leader of the Wolves.
“He likes when everybody works hard, more than 100 percent,” Alexey Shved said Thursday afternoon. “I know everybody here wants to play in Summer League and everybody wants to play here. We have twice-a-day practices and a lot of running. … It’s hard but we need this."
They need it because of the way Saunders wants his team to play next year. Wolves’ fans got a sneak peek of that style at a Summer League scrimmage Wednesday night. Players seemed to favor pushing the pace on offense and intensely pressuring the ball handler on defense. That same tenacity on both ends of the floor was present in each and every practice this week.
Saunders appeared increasingly pleased with the effort of his players over the four-day mini camp.
“We’re able to see where they’re at and see they’re ability to pick things up because we throw a lot of things at them in a short amount of time,” he said. “There are some that drown when we throw a lot of things at them and some guys rise to the top. I’d say most of the guys are floating right now.”
A few faces have really stood out during the four practices. Zach LaVine’s speed and athleticism is unmistakable. Shabazz Muhammad’s effort on both ends of the court has provided a good example for everyone on the roster. And Glenn Robinson III seems to be adjusting well to the pace of the NBA.
Saunders, who said he’s enjoying his first stint as a coach since 2012, said the youth on his roster provides the team with a plethora of options as it heads to Las Vegas for Summer League competition.
“They give us excitement … and they also give us enthusiasm,” Saunders said. “And I think the biggest thing with youths is the way we mix that in with the veteran guys.”
Saunders won’t really have to worry about mixing his young talent with his veterans until the team opens training camp in a few months, but right now the main focus is on Summer League in Las Vegas. The Wolves leave for Las Vegas on Friday and will compete in the circuit from July 11-21.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” Shabazz Muhammad said, “so it’s going to be really fun to watch.”
These last four days have been tough on the players, but their efforts culminate this weekend. Wolves players seem excited for the chance to get on the court in a game-like atmosphere and some players seem to think the Wolves style of play could bode well in the Summer League circuit.
“We have a great shot to win this thing,” Glenn Robinson III said. “We like to get out and run. … We want to take it all.”