Summer League Practice Report: July 11, 2013

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Friday morning’s Summer League practice will more or less be a walkthrough before heading to Las Vegas in the afternoon, so the Wolves have essentially gotten through their four sessions of scrimmaging. And after four practices, coach David Adelman said the guys are looking much more comfortable in their roles than they were on Day 1.

“Much better scrimmages. Guys are more comfortable with each other and guys loosening up,” Adelman said. “We talked about yesterday guys playing a pattern, people today just kind o f played how they usually played, so it was more competitive. (We) mixed up a lot of guys, matched different people up so it was a good day."

The group currently has 16 players on the roster and Adelman said the team will determine if all 16 will make the trip or if there will be cuts, but given the mix of headliner rookies in Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, a couple familiar faces in Chris Johnson and Robbie Hummel and a collection of players who are impressing early in camp, this Wolves team could be a fun group to watch in Las Vegas.

Minnesota went 4-1 last year at Summer League, and they’re hoping the talent their bringing will help them make a move deep into this championship format.

As for players who have been impressing that don’t have the big-name recognition or familiarity, John Holland caught Adelman’s eye yesterday and came up with some big shots at the end of the scrimmage—especially a sweet corner 3. Solomon Jones, who played in China last year, also got recognition from Adelman for his play the last couple days. And Brandon Paul, who made two trips to Minnesota during the Draft workout season, put together a steal and fastbreak jam during today’s scrimmage.

Wolves Summer League schedule

Every Wolves game will be televised on NBATV during Summer League, but not every game will be live. The Wolves will play their first two preliminary round games on tape delay before having their third game shown live. Their Saturday, July 13 game against the D-League Selects will be aired on NBATV on July 14 at 3 a.m. CT. Their Monday, July 15 game against Phoenix will air on July 16 at 11 a.m. CT. Their Tuesday, July 16 game against Miami will air live at 3 p.m. CT. After that, the teams will go into the championship tournament and all games are TBD, but all teams are guaranteed five games.

Meanwhile, all Summer League games will be available live online through NBA Live Access, which can be purchased for $14.99.

Johnson putting on weight

Wolves center Chris Johnson entered the offseason hoping to put on some weight and gain some muscle this offseason, and he’s doing just that. Working out in Portland at the Nike Camp, he’s added 15 pounds and is up to 230—his highest weight of his career and his offseason goal.

Johnson became a fan favorite last year with his high-flying fast breaks and his shot blocking, he was admittedly a liability defensively if paired against a bigger, stronger forward or center. That will still be a challenge for him moving forward, but he is working toward adding some bulk while working on his balance.

“I feel like that can help me get on the floor more and then just take off from there,” Johnson said.

Johnson he just has to get used to the extra weight with the rest of his game, and Summer League is the start of him being able to test out how he can perform playing post-up defense.

Adelman said in his chest and arms Johnson looks like he’s added some muscle, and it was important not only for holding his own on the court but also for the wear-and-tear that comes in the league.

But even just putting on the weight is a testament to Johnson’s work ethic this offseason.

“Guys like that, it’s tough to put on weight so it shows you how hard he’s been working,” Adelman said.

Sikma continuing to impress on the boards

Luke Sikma continues to find his way to loose balls on the offensive end. It’s actually a pretty impressive sight to witness. Adelman said Sikma has a nose for the ball, and he’s right. In about 10 minutes of scrimmaging open to the media over the past two days, Sikma has brought down three offensive rebounds and seems to always be in the right position.

“It’s in the genes,” said Sikma, whose father, Jack, pulled down 10,816 rebounds in his career.

He started Summer League 2012 not gaining much playing time, but throughout the week he showcased why he deserved to get more and more minutes. By the end of the tournament, he was getting a sizable portion of minutes at the 4. He’s doing it undersized at 6-foot-8, but as Adelman said Sikma is strong down in the post.

“When I lived in Portland, Ore., when he was at the University of Portland, I watched him play a lot,” Adelman said. “That’s a natural gift.”

Quick Hits

  • Alexey Shved continues to impress during his time working out with the Wolves’ Summer League roster. He had a pretty pump-fake that sent a defender flying right before he drained a corner three. On the team’s next possession, Shved drove to the lane and connected on a floater. Minutes later, he drove baseline and dropped in a contested layup. It’s by no means a given, but watch Shved as we get into the regular season and see if he becomes more comfortable driving consistently next year. He’s definitely got the ability, now it’s time to see if he can add that to his game.
  • Keep your eye on Lorenzo Brown, the rookie point guard out of NC State that the Wolves picked up with the 52nd pick overall in the Draft. He’s got size at 6-foot-5, and at Summer League he’ll get a chance to earn minutes and see if he can find a spot on the NBA roster. He said he’s learning from Shved how to attack and be aggressive at the NBA level. “It’s always been a dream of mine to be in this situation and to make the best of it,” Brown said. Adelman said he will play in Vegas and learn on the fly—regardless of if things are going well or not. This is the time to get acquainted with the professional game and adjust to the tempo, skill and physicality.

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