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2018 Timberwolves Media Day Notebook

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

The Timberwolves signed All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns to a five-year extension on Sunday. Now the team is back in the building for 2018 Media Day. Here are some key takeaways from each player heading into training camp:

Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden:

  • Thibodeau addressed the speculation around Jimmy Butler, saying that the team was fortunate to acquire him when they did, and that they’ll always be looking to put the team first and make the team better over anything.
  • Thibodeau and Layden are excited about the team they have in the building. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are both in great shape and the experience in the playoffs last year helped them significantly. Thibodeau said he thinks the team has a good mix of young guys, guys in the middle and established veterans. The challenge last year was getting everything working in concert—this season is about building on that progress.
  • It’s going to be important to hit the ground running in a very competitive Western Conference and not ease into camp. Guys are ready to get going.
  • Thibodeau said the Wolves’ rookies look good and he’s been impressed by their work over the summer so far. However, it remains to be seen what their roles will be during the season. The NBA season is a different game than summer league or offseason workouts.

C.J. Williams

  • Williams said he’s excited to join the Wolves because he thinks it’s a good place to showcase his talent and prove that he belongs in the NBA.
  • He said his late-season stretch with the Clippers last year helped teach him what it takes to win and how to make the most of opportunities.

Jarred Terrell

  • Terrell thinks the biggest thing for him is to come in knowing his role: that’s playing defense, hitting open shots and making his teammates better both in games and in practices.

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Karl Anthony-Towns

  • Towns is very excited to have signed an extension with the Wolves and he’s ready for his future as a leader of this franchise. He wants to keep the promise he made to Flip Saunders when he was drafted and bring greatness to Minnesota.
  • Towns acknowledges the awkward timing of the announcement of his extension announcement, but said getting the contract signed early this week was just about two sides getting things figured out and coming to an agreement.
  • The biggest thing for Towns is focusing on what he can control—that’s getting in the gym, playing hard in practice and doing everything he possibly can to help the team win. He’s ready to be a leader on the Wolves, but said he doesn’t think teams need just one leader. Everyone has to come together for the team to be successful.
  • The type of commitment to the Wolves have made to Towns comes with the opportunity for Towns to provide for generations of his family—he’s excited to send his nieces and nephews to college, give back to his community and support the people who have supported him.

Derrick Rose

  • Rose said that all the experiences the team had last year will only make them stronger and more confident this year. They’ll need to compete every single night in the West and last year’s playoff run has them well-prepared.
  • He wants to do whatever the team needs from him. He’s not here to steal anyone’s minutes and he’s not too worried about what his role looks like night to night. He’ll produce in whatever minutes he’s given and he’s ready to be pushed and challenged by the coaching staff.
  • Rose acknowledges that playing for Thibodeau requires discipline and determination. You need to focus on the game at all times and you need to stay principled.  

Justin Patton

  • Despite the disappointment of another injury, Patton is keeping his spirits up and fighting through everything he has to in order to get ready. Patton admires Thibodeau’s basketball mind and will try to soak up as much knowledge as he can.

Andrew Wiggins

  • Wiggins said that the team knows what it takes to make the playoffs and compete after last year’s stretch run. He knows he didn’t have his strongest season last year and over the offseason he’s been focused on picking his spots and improving in specific ways to make sure he has a better year this season.
  • He said that both he and Towns are ready to step up and do more and that he’s been getting up a lot of extra shots this summer in preparation for a better season this year.

Keita Bates-Diop

  • Bates-Diop’s focus has been entirely on working out, acclimating to the system and playing with and learning from the veterans. Beyond that it’s wait and see. He needs to get more reps under the system and keep learning.

Tyus Jones

  • Jones, like many of the other Wolves players today, reiterated that his main priority is doing whatever the team needs from him to win. The goal is to hit the ground running and work on building off what the team accomplished last year.
  • In the offseason, Jones focused on getting stronger and quicker and improving his catch-and-shoot abilities. He foresees playing on the wing a little more this season, so it will be important to be able to take advantage of open looks coming from guys who demand more attention on defense.

Gorgui Dieng

  • The main focus for Dieng seems to be just getting better every day so that when opportunity presents itself he’s ready. He accurately stated that you never know what’s going to happen in this league so it’s crucial to always be at your best. He knows he’s good enough to play in the NBA.
  • Dieng stressed the importance of playing defense as a team an in a system. With the talent level all around the league it’s getting harder and harder to guard guys one-on-one, everything has to be done as a unit.
  • In the locker room, Dieng wants to be known as someone that always does his job and treats people with respect. He’s a pro—he won’t be someone who makes things more difficult for his teammates.

Luol Deng

  • Deng is happy to be in Minnesota and with an organization that believes in him. His familiarity with Thibodeau’s system definitely played a role in his decision to come to Minnesota but at the end of the day he wanted to go somewhere that wanted him. He’s ready to do whatever the team needs and he knows a big part of his role will to be a leader in the locker room and in practice.
  • He talked about Wiggins, saying that Wiggins was underappreciated last year. Not many players have achieved what Wiggins has at such a young age and there’s still room to grow.
  • Deng has been around a lot of teams including many winning teams. He thinks that the experiences this team had last year and in the offseason will bring them closer together. Deng fits into that picture by being a focused and consistent presence and executing his role in the system.

Anthony Tolliver 

  • A lot has changed for Tolliver since he last played for the Wolves. He got married and has three children, he lives in the suburbs now instead of downtown.
  • Tolliver still feels like he’s reaching his peak because he’s grown so much as a shooter, chalking his improvement up to a combination of freedom, opportunity and preparation. Those things will continue to serve him well as he tries to remain one of the best three-point shooters in the league.
  • When Thibodeau told him that coming to Minnesota would be an opportunity to get more threes up, Tolliver was game. He’s not too concerned about Minnesota’s reputation as a place that doesn’t attempt a lot of threes. He said that when he’s in the game, the team will shoot threes no matter what.

Josh Okogie

  • Okogie is focused on bringing energy and enthusiasm to every practice and every game. He wants to do the little things, do what he can do in his first year, then build on that each and every year. His main concern is learning the system. It’s been a whirlwind since being drafted.

Taj Gibson

  • Gibson has no problem being a leader in this locker room. He’s just trying to help keep the team together and keep them focused headed into what will be a competitive year.
  • He gets the ‘Timberbulls’ jokes but he said at the end of the day it’s nice to be around guys who you know and respect—that’s not something that happens every day in the NBA. The collection of veterans the team has put together is ready to support the young players. Gibson stressed the importance of being there for the younger players even when things seem good. Things go up and down in the NBA a ton and Gibson knows it.
  • Gibson said the Butler rumors have been a distraction but he’s ready for camp to start and excited about playing with the guys that are in the building.

James Nunnally

  • The most important thing for Nunnally is keeping confidence that every single shot he takes is going in. He’s looking for his shots in the rhythm of the Wolves offense. With other players drawing a lot of attention on defense, he’s hoping to get some open shots.

Jeff Teague

  • Teague is excited about the group that the Wolves have here and things spirits are good heading into camp. He looks forward to training camp because it’s an opportunity to see who has improved and added new facets to their games. It’s also nice to see the new guys in the building.
  • He’s looking forward to playing faster and throwing out some multiple-guard lineups with Jones and Rose.
  • Teague has made the playoffs every year of his career and he has no reason to believe that will change this year. He said the team is just focused on playing the game the right way and competing on both ends of the floor.

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