Practice Report | Wolves Tip Off Training Camp In Mankato
The Timberwolves had their first practice of the 2019-20 NBA season on Tuesday morning in Mankato.
The quick two-day trip, in general, is a good team-building exercise. The team had a team dinner immediately upon arrival after Monday's media day.
Why Mankato? It’s where owner Glen Taylor resides, and Minnesota State University, Mankato is Taylor’s alma mater. The court where the Wolves practice, the Taylor Center, was funded by, you guessed it, Glen Taylor.
It's also far enough away from the cities to feel like the team is getting away, but also close enough to not be a nuisance.
These first practices are going to be a lot of fundamentals. At the team’s media day, coach Ryan Saunders said a primary focus will be conditioning over the first week or so. A lot of it is also implementing how the team wants to play offensively and defensively.
It’s a lot of play, stop and learn, especially with so many new faces.
One focus for the team early has been switching. Over the last few seasons, we haven’t seen a lot of switching from the Wolves. When you look at this roster, it’s pretty obvious that it was put together with the full intent of switching a lot. Having guys like Robert Covington and Jordan Bell give you that kind of flexibility. With that being said, it will be about who is on the court, rather than just switching every time.
“When you talk about switching defense, switching will be a coverage for us with that we want to get to more switching, but we also want to make sure we have the right personnel to do that and we believe we have a number of lineups that can do that.”
Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Covington wore No. 14 jerseys with “Saunders” on the back. It was a tribute to the late Flip Saunders who wore No. 14 in college with the University of Minnesota. For Towns, it was a gesture to not only Flip, but to Ryan, who has earned his dream job, and his dad has been with him every step of the way.
“I just thought it would mean a lot to Ryan,” Towns, who was drafted first overall by Flip in 2015, said. “Just trying to find creative ways to bring the team together and make sure we understand what’s our ‘why’. Ryan’s ‘why’ is his father. It’s something that means a lot to him and I thought we should embrace. It’s something that means a lot to him and should mean a lot to us. We’re all a family in this journey together.”
- Chris Beard and the Texas Tech coaching staff was in attendance to support rookie Jarrett Culver. Culver, the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, played two seasons at Texas Tech.
- Taylor also attended practice.
- Point guard Jeff Teague is in high spirits. It was noticeable at media day and that continued when he addressed the media on Tuesday. We’ll have more on Teague later on Tuesday afternoon. He can bring a lot to this team.
- The team will have its annual lasagna dinner at the Taylor residence on Tuesday night. We’re seeing if someone can bring us back leftovers. We’ll check back in tomorrow.