Countdown to Tipoff: Lou Amundson
Editor’s note: In the days leading up to Friday’s regular season opener against the Kings, Timberwolves.com will highlight three new members of the Wolves’ team that fans will see during the 2012-13 campaign. Minnesota faces Sacramento at 7 p.m. on Friday at Target Center. The game will be televised on My 29 and broadcast on the radio at 830 WCCO-AM.
Web Editorial Associate
While Timberwolves players like Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Derrick Williams have all entered the league as highly coveted draft choices, others—like forward/center Lou Amundson—took an entirely different route.
After going undrafted out of UNLV in 2006, Amundson played a half-season with the Colorado 14ers and was named NBA Development League Rookie of the Year in 2007. He then went on to a temporary contract with the Philadelphia76ers before signing a two-year contract with the Phoenix Suns.
Now, Amundson is preparing to start the season with his sixth team in six years, and he brings a wealth of experience along with him. It’s a journey he’s not taking for granted.
“Yeah, it makes you appreciate it more,” Amundson said. “Taking this path, for sure. I’ve definitely worked hard to get where I am, and it feels good to have success. I’ve had a long career, so far.”
His experience in the D-League instilled a hard-working attitude that helped him carry his game into the NBA, competing every day with players in the same situation.
“Everybody is out there trying to prove something,” Amundson said, “proving that they can play or that they’re worthy of a roster spot. There’s a lot of that. I was lucky enough to be on a team with some really good players who were all hungry, but we all realized that if we chose success as a team, that would be the best for us individually.
“We had some great coaches. I was only there half the season, but it was definitely a different experience. It’s a different lifestyle than the NBA, and that in itself will make you hungry.”
Amundson joins Greg Stiemsma and J.J. Barea, among others, as former D-Leaguers on Minnesota’s roster.
“You share a small bond just knowing what that lifestyle is like,” Amundson said of his teammates, “knowing what we went through to get to this position. It makes you appreciate being where you were. Anytime someone else experiences that same path, there’s a small bond.”
Coach Rick Adelman agreed that Amundson’s time in the NBA’s development program helped him develop a high-work ethic mentality that keeps him humble.
“The guy has worked his tail off,” Adelman said. “The guy knows what it’s like not to be playing and not to be on a team, so he does have kind of an attitude. He has an understanding of what it takes, and nothing’s been given to him. He’s hungry.”
Amundson’s hunger eventually paid off. With the Suns, Amundson enjoyed a playoff run in 2010 where his team reached the NBA Western Conference Finals, eventually losing to Kobe Bryant and the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. He hopes to bring that experience to a team that hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2004.
“I definitely have that experience in the rotation of a playoff team,” Amundson said. “I know that level you have to take when you get to the playoffs—you have to step it up a notch. If you play well enough to get to that position, that experience will be valuable. We’ve got a lot of young guys here, so I’m trying to lead by example.”
And now in Minnesota, Amundson can feel the community buzz starting to build. Ticket sales are up, and fans everywhere are hoping that the Timberwolves can enjoy a playoff run in 2013.
“It’s exciting for the community,” Amundson said. “And I think it’s important to have that buzz around the city…but all of that goes to the wayside if you don’t perform. We have to go out there and put it on the floor, realizing that we haven’t done anything yet.”
Expectations are high among fans and some media members alike, but Amundson hasn’t noticed. He’s focused on keeping his head down and playing hard, the same way he has for his whole career.
“I don’t even watch SportsCenter,” Amundson said. “I think some guys do, but I’ve been in this league long enough to realize that stuff doesn’t mean anything. You guys have a job to do, and that’s part of it, but it’s a bit like predicting stocks.
“You never know through the course of a season who is going to be high, who is going to be low, who’s injured, who steps up. I try not to look at it, to be honest with you.”