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Q&A: Rudy Gobert discusses Wolves' welcome, Victor Wembanyama and more

Minnesota's key offseason addition, center Rudy Gobert, discusses Minnesota's massive front line and what it's like looking up to Victor Wembanyama.

How does adding another big man in All-Star Rudy Gobert change spacing on the floor for Minnesota?

LOS ANGELES — Technically, Rudy Gobert hasn’t even played a full game yet with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ core players to determine their potential.

But based on training camp vibes and the team’s scouting reports, Gobert is optimistic the Timberwolves can achieve something he was unable to achieve during his first nine NBA seasons — all with the Utah Jazz.

“Our goal obviously is to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, get to the Finals and play for a championship,” Gobert said following the Timberwolves’ 119-117 preseason win against the LA Clippers on Sunday at Arena.

Gobert sat out Sunday’s game for rest purposes after spending part of his offseason playing for France in EuroBasket. But when Minnesota visits the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday at Arena (10 ET, ESPN), Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns could make their preseason debut as teammates.

Gobert spoke to about that partnership, the Timberwolves’ potential this season, and French prospect Victor Wembanyama, who is strongly considered to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Editor’s note: The following 1-on-1 conversation has been condensed and edited. How has training camp gone so far?

It’s been great joining a new group and a new organization. There are a lot of things for me to process, but I’m trying to do the best I can. It’s been a cool experience so far.

You’ve mentioned the organization has made you feel welcome. How so?

Every single person in the organization has shown me a lot of love. They made me feel welcome. I try to be myself coming to work every day and leading by example for all the young guys and just be me.

How are you feeling physically?

I feel good so far. At EuroBasket, it was a tough competition. I was practicing with the guys almost every day to get the chemistry going. But now there are a few days for me to recover a little bit and get ready for the season.

Once you start playing with Towns, what do you think the chemistry will be?

It’s going to be fun. We both understand the game really well and we both know how we’re going to make each other better on defense and on offense. We’re going to learn every single day and every single minute on the court. That’s part of the fun with enjoying your team, enjoying your teammates and learning how to make each other better.

What’s your expectation on how long the integration process will take with KAT, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell?

Every night will be an opportunity for us to get better. Basketball is not a perfect science. There is never perfection. But if you can play for each other and compete for each other every single minute on the court, we’re going to get better and better. Our goal obviously is to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, then get to the Finals and play for a championship.

What will it take to reach that?

It’s going to take a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work. We’re going to need every single person in this locker room. It’s a long season. But if you have the right mindset with getting better every single night, you will be in good shape when the playoffs come.

What has it been like mentoring Victor Wembanyama?

It’s been great. I’ve known Victor since he was 13 years old. He’s a great kid. He’s very wise. Obviously, he has all the tools. But what makes him special is his mindset and his spirit. He’s passionate about the game. He wants to be great, and he knows what it takes to be great. He’s putting all of that together and working really hard to get to that level. It’s been really cool to watch him grow.

When did you realize he would be a special player?

The first time I watched him play. We all knew he would be special. But the real question was how far and how special? These last few days, we can all agree that he’s going to be something unique. As soon as I got to speak with him and understand his mindset, I knew he would be great. He has all of the tools, but the mentality is the most important tool. He has that.

What was it like standing side-by-side with him in Las Vegas last week, standing next to someone taller than you?

It doesn’t happen a lot (smiles). It was great. I’m used to being the one looking from up above. It’s unusual for me, but it happens. I’ve seen Boban [Marjanović] and Tacko [Fall] a few times. It makes me feel like a normal person.

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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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