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5 Things We Learned From Timberwolves' 2017 China Trip
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In three preseason games, six Wolves averaged double digits in points scored. That number was almost seven with Jeff Teague creeping in at 9.7 points per contest.
I talked with Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins during a media availability in Shanghai. They told me that sacrificing individual stats for the greater good of the team isn’t something that they’ve talked about, but throughout preseason, it’s something that’s just come natural.
We’ll see if it’s something that carries on into the regular season. For the Wolves to have the best chance at success, it’s something that will probably need to.
Chinese Fans Are Crazy
Not in a negative way like how you describe your uncle Rick. But in the best way possible. These fans are outside of the hotels with player signs, jerseys and one fan even gave Andrew Wiggins a hand-written card with a dog toy for Wiggins’ dog that he frequently shares on Instagram.
Both the arenas in Shenzhen and Shanghai were packed to the brim. I’m not sure what the NBA’s plans are in the future for games in China, but this is a place that could definitely sell out any NBA game at any time. Preseason or regular season. This is a huge fan base and you don’t really get a feel for it until you’re there.
Busy, Busy, Busy
You don’t really know the grind of the NBA until you see it firsthand. I’ve gone on road trips with the team before, but nothing quite like this. There was a day in Shenzhen when the team had an open practice for media, media availability, an NBA Cares Event, various appearances (we went to an NBA 2K event with Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng and Jamal Crawford), and the day was capped off with an NBA Welcome Reception. That’s about 10 hours of non-stop go, go, go.
People asked how the trip was. And it was fun. But it was also about the busiest eight days you’ll see on a schedule.
The Warriors And Wolves Matchups Should Be Fun This Season
In each of the last two seasons, the Wolves have taken down the Warriors. And while it was only preseason, that trend continued as the Wolves beat the Warriors in Shenzhen before falling to the defending champions in Shanghai.
Butler, Towns and Wiggins battle Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson three times this season: Nov. 8 at Golden State, Jan. 25 at Golden State and March 11 at the Target Center.
This is the most talented bunch the Wolves will have put up against the Warriors. The problem is, the same can probably be said for the Warriors.
Gorgui Dieng Thriving Off The Bench
Taj Gibson will start at power forward aside Karl-Anthony Towns, at least to start the season it appears. That’s a change up for the Wolves as Gorgui Dieng started all 82 games for the Wolves last season. Since entering the league in 2013-14, Dieng has started 185 out of 297 career games.
In two games in China, Dieng averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game. This comes off a preseason game against the Lakers in which Dieng put up 14 points and hauled in 12 rebounds.
I’m not going to declare a “Sixth Man of the Year” watch because big men are never considered for this (the last non-guard to win was Lamar Odom in 2010-11). But I don't think Dieng will have an issue adjusting to coming off the bench.