Wolves Open Summer League Camp, Begin Teaching Plays

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Wolves opened up Summer League camp today with a slate of two practices—one in the morning and another in the afternoon—and as anticipated for Summer League coach David Adelman there were a lot of wide-eyed players on the court.

A group of 17—the listed 16 players on the roster headed to Las Vegas plus Wolves guard Alexey Shved—were participating in the workouts. Adelman said the type of motion offense they’re teaching is a version of what the Wolves run during their 82-game schedule, just more of an ease-you-in version. Even still, there were moments throughout where the new players were clearly trying to wrap their heads around the nuances of the playbook.

The biggest difference between this version of the offense compared to in-season, Adelman said, was the fact that things are constantly changed every game, every quarter, every substitution.

“Guys who were in programs in college that maybe were more set-oriented probably had a harder time,” Adelman said. “This is a lot of motion, a lot of options to choose from.”

All in all, a typical first day. But a group that does have potential to look pretty good together at Summer League.

It begins with center Gorgui Dieng and guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad, the two headliner draft picks who got their first taste of professional ball during the scrimmages today. They said they can tell the difference between the collegiate level and the pros based on strength and speed, but Dieng said that’s part of the natural transition process. He said he wouldn’t have made the jump to the NBA had he thought he wasn’t ready for it.

And from a work ethic standpoint, he’s got the right mindset. He knows the Wolves want a serviceable center who can block shots and help facilitate the basketball. He’s ready to do both.

“Just play hard, that’s all I need,” Dieng said. “Get used to the plays. No matter what the outcome will be, I just want to play hard and show that I love what I’m doing. That’s that matters to me. That’s me, I just love to play hard and show that I’m happy playing basketball.”

Muhammad, too, admitted he can tell the difference from UCLA to the Wolves. It’s an adjustment like he went through from high school to Division I ball. He said it’s important to stay focused on all the little things that are added from a playbook standpoint.

“[Everyone] is trying to figure it out just as much as me, all the guys out there,” he said. “Some of the guys have been in the D-League, overseas, so they’re helping us out, too. But me, G [Dieng], Zo [Lorenzo Brown] are really doing a good job helping us out out there.”

One of the guys who is returning and does have a little more experience with this system is Robbie Hummel, who was out there and said he feels confident coming back after playing with the Wolves’ Summer League team last year.

“I think just the experience of playing will help a lot,” Hummel said. “It’s nice knowing the offense and seeing it before. Even the defense as well. It’s kind of knowing what’s going on the second time around.”

On the court, the Wolves got up and down the floor scrimmaging at the end of Wednesday’s second practice. Of note, John Holland—the Boston University product who played in Spain last year—hit a couple long jumpers and looked locked in during his offensive sets. Shved impressed Muhammad with his passing ability, something that was definitely noted by his Wolves teammates during his rookie season. And Luke Sikma, who showcased his energy a year ago during the 2012 Summer League, showed that same energy early on attacking the offensive glass.

Quick Hits

  • More to come on Alexey Shved participating in today’s practice in another post tonight. He is in town for workouts with the team but is headed to Miami shortly. He isn’t planning to participate in Summer League and will be playing with the Russian National Team later this summer. He said he’ll be returning to Minnesota once his national team commitments are done.
  • The Wolves will have two-a-days again on Thursday and one practice on Friday morning before taking off on an afternoon flight for Vegas. Their first game is Saturday at 5:30 PM CT against the D-League Selects.
  • Adelman said Chris Johnson, who is on the Summer League roster, looked good and is in great shape. The team saw him briefly a couple weeks ago in L.A. and he’s been working out all summer—running the floor very well.
  • Adelman on the Summer League format switching to a championship round, joking: “It kills me because last year we were good. No, I think It’s good for the guys. I think it keeps things competitive.” The Wolves were 4-1 last year with Adelman and Shawn Respert as head coaches.
  • Hummel noted it’s cool getting to play on the same team as Brandon Paul and Demetri McCamey, two former Illinois players he’s familiar facing from his Big Ten days at Purdue.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.