Practice Report | KAT's Unstoppable Rise, Taking Things A Day At A Time
The last week of Timberwolves basketball hasn’t exactly gone as planned, but that’s not stopping the team from preparing to turn things around on Saturday against the Wizards.
Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders acknowledged that the team is disappointed not to be living up to the standards they have set for themselves but remained steadfast in his belief that the Wolves will continue to work to get better.
“Everybody wants more,” said Saunders. “You never want to be complacent, and you never want to be content with where you are. We all want more. I don’t know if discouraged is the right word, I’d say we want more and we’re just going to keep working to get more.”
A lot has happened this Wolves season—they’ve gone through more change than maybe any other team in the league and that exacts a toll. That being said, the team is getting along, enjoying playing basketball together and doing their best to just take things one day at a time.
“I think for now it doesn’t help to look too far ahead,” said Luol Deng. “Just take it a game at a time. Games are coming fast. Next game we really just got to lock in and get that win. I think looking too far ahead or trying to think of a run, that’s what everybody is going to be talk about, but as a team in the locker room we have to do everything we can to focus on Washington and what we have to do to win that game.”
Deng practiced partially on Friday—a sore Achilles has kept him on the shelf since the Wolves’ game in Atlanta. He was upfront in saying that it’s hard to watch the Wolves slipping back in the playoff race while other teams push forward, but he’s using his leadership to help the Wolves stay focused.
Lately, the Wolves have been given a boost by the insane play of Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns has stepped up this year—something that’s not going unnoticed by Deng.
“Karl is one of the best offensive players I’ve ever played with. So talented. He just makes some plays sometimes, you’re just so glad you’re on his side. There have been games where we don’t have anything going, he’s just, they can’t stop him, and he just opens up the floor so much,” Deng said.
Deng also spoke about how it’s easy to forget how young Towns is because of how talented he is. Growing into a leader is a process, not something that happens overnight. However, Towns is on the right path.
“It’s something for the organization to be excited about. I’ve seen a lot of players that have a couple good years and the direction is not the same, but to me Karl is improving every [year],” he said.
Saunders said he has seen a boost in energy in Towns since he came back after suffering a concussion in a car accident.
“He’s been very aggressive… When you go through something you can shift your mindset back to what you need to focus on in a lot of ways,” said Saunders. “You’re out for a game you see how much you really miss it and how much you value it too.”
There have also been practical, basketball reasons for Towns’ constantly-improving play.
“He’s confident and he knows if he gets to his spots guys will have a hard time guarding him,” said Saunders. “But one thing that has opened up some opportunities for him is how he’s growing in terms of passing the ball—being able to honor cutters and use his pass fakes to make defenders shift a bit he’s opening up some lanes for him and getting more easy opportunities.”
The Wolves take on the Wizards at 7 p.m. on Saturday, you can get tickets for that game here.