Shootaround Report | Dywane Wade’s Farewell Tour, A Season Of Opportunity
The Wolves faced Dirk Nowitzki likely for the last time on Wednesday night and on Friday they get a shot at another NBA legend—Dywane Wade. It’s looking to be a special night at Target Center. On top of it being Wolves fans’ final chance to see Wade play it’s also the last chance to see the Wolves’ City Edition Prince jerseys in a game.
Outside of all that, tonight could be a very good basketball game. The Wolves have been competitive lately and are building a culture that doesn’t accept or excuse losing, regardless of whether or not they can make the playoffs.
“As people can see we’re still competitive and these guys are still approaching it, it sounds cliché, but like we still have a chance to make the playoffs,” said Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders. “Shootarounds are as focused as they’ve ever been. I think guys understand that we have a lot of things we have to work on moving towards the summer and into next year and I think guys are taking that to heart.”
Anthony Tolliver has been on quite a few teams and he’s seen what giving up can do to a team emotionally. NBA players are built to want to win and when that doesn’t happen, bad things can happen unless the culture is strong.
“This league is a lot about mindset. If you’re on a team or part of an organization and lose a lot, it wears on you. It kind of carries into the following years,” he said. “A lot of people talk about losing organizations, there’s a reason why there are losing organizations. I feel like a lot of habits and thoughts go into year after year after year. Finishing the year strong is ultra-important, for us as individuals but also us as a team.”
The end of the season is also a time to develop younger players. Because of injuries, players like Josh Okogie, Keita-Bates Diop and Cam Reynolds have had a chance to shine. They’ve taken advantage of that chance. Okogie has developed into a great defender and has improved his playmaking a ton. Bates-Diop has proven himself to be a great switching defender with NBA athleticism. Reynolds has worked his way from a 10-day contract into a consistent role for the team. The time to develop guys pays off for the franchise down the road.
“You want to put give guys challenges early in games, and we’ve done that a number of times with Josh were we’re starting him on the best offensive player pretty much every game,” said Saunders. “That’s what we’re trying to see, if he’s able to do that. He’s done a good job for the most part. Obviously, there are still instances where we all need to improve, but you’d hope he’d be a guy… where you wouldn’t have any drop-off when you take Robert (Covington) out next season, that you’d put Josh in and he’d pick up where he left off.”
Reynolds still has plenty to learn and the goal is to land a spot on this team when the 2019-20 season begins.
“This is definitely an audition. I got to come to work and put my best foot forward every single day. That’s how I think about it, but I try not to put pressure on myself, I just come out and play basketball like I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Still, Reynolds gives himself time to reflect on how far he’s come. When he takes the floor on Friday, he’ll do so opposite a childhood idol, one he now has a chance to beat. D-Wade.
“It’s an honor to play against him, he’s someone I watched growing up, I had his poster in my room. He made me want to get converse when he first came out,” said Reynolds. “It’s an honor but it just goes to the same, they want to get in to the playoffs and we want to stop them. That’s our goal.”
For more info on Friday’s game, including where to get tickets, check out our scouting report.