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Summer League Was Just A Sign Of What's To Come For The Wolves

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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After the hiring of President of Basketball of Operations Gersson Rosas, the phrase “building a world-class organization” has been said more than a few times.

There’s a reason for that. This is something Rosas truly believes in and knows it needs to be a staple of this franchise in order for it to succeed.

On Monday night in Las Vegas, the Timberwolves fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Summer League Championship game.

While the Wolves didn’t win, they finished with a 6-1 record and we saw a different type of play and attitude from this team.

“It’s important to us to compete at every level, whether it’s Summer League, offseason workouts, training camp, we want to establish the foundation for who we’re going to be and that was a big part of that process,” Rosas said.

There were more 3-pointers and layups, and fewer midrange shots. 

Just take a look at the team’s shot chart from the championship game. Almost all shots are from deep or at the basket. 

This was something we saw in every game from the Wolves, and something that Summer League coach Pablo Prigioni and his staff (through Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders) stressed throughout Summer League practices.

“We have an unbelievable staff here,” Saunders said. “And then also try things out offensively and defensively, see what we think is going to be the best possible schemes and the best possible concept to put this team in the best position to succeed.”

We also saw a team that genuinely seemed like it liked each other, which is rare considering most of these guys just met. Those team-building dinners, meetings and activities are already paying off. 

For the players, all those events seemed like things they wanted to do, not things they had to do.

It’s an early, but not insignificant, step towards the type of organization that Rosas and Saunders want to build in Minnesota.

“I told our guys (after the game) that I was very proud of them,” Rosas said in Las Vegas on Monday. “They basically laid down the first brick of our new identity. Our new culture. What we’re about. Their representation of us here is very impactful. How we’re going to play on both sides of the floor, how we’re going to compete.”

The Wolves had a type of camaraderie that you just don’t see from Summer League teams. That came from what was stressed to these players early in the process. This was going to be a team that would move the ball offensively and buy in defensively. The team showed that, obviously.

But the impact of Summer League was bigger than just in-game success. Throughout Summer League, we’ve seen Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh, Jake Layman and Jordan Bell show their support in Las Vegas. Towns and Wiggins even got a practice in with the young players. 

Saunders was been at every practice and workout and Rosas has been to most of them.

There were also team dinners that included all parts of the organization, both business and basketball. The tables were mixed up so people were able to get to know people they generally wouldn’t get the chance to. Don’t sleep on how rare this is for a team to do.

After one dinner, the team (or those who are old enough to know who she is) attended a Gwen Stefani concert.

“We say it, but we’re doing it. It’s action over words,” Rosas said. “You can talk about having a good culture, you can talk about camaraderie as a team, but unless you do it, it doesn’t mean anything. It was our first opportunity to show real life what our culture was about and the time here in Las Vegas was very helpful for us and we spent it together. Guys spent a lot of quality time with their teammates, and also our coaches. We were able to build an identity in what we want our program to be like – a family.”

This is something new for Minnesota, and people are buying in. 

The team didn’t need to get to the Summer League championship to prove that it is heading in the right direction, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. 

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