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Wolves Prepare For Thunder

by Katie Davidson
Digital Content Associate

Let the countdown to the Wolves’ Friday night game against the Thunder begin!

Here’s what we learned at Friday’s shootaround.

First things first. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins were added to the Wolves’ injury list Thursday night. Towns was listed as “probable” with right knee tendinopathy, and Wiggins was listed as “questionable” due to a left thumb sprain. Wolves head coach Ryan Saunders said both players will see how they feel tonight before deciding whether or not they’re going to play against the Thunder.

President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas announced the Wolves recalled guard Jaylen Nowell and forward Kelan Martin from the Iowa Wolves Friday morning. I’d assume this move was largely due to Wiggins’ thumb sprain. I know it’s just a part of the job of a professional athlete, but the G League players’ ability to be ready whenever they’re called upon is pretty impressive.

“I don’t ever love yo-yoing guys, but it’s a huge credit to this group,” Saunders said. “We talk about staying ready, and these guys do stay ready.”

 Saunders also shared that we may see more Noah Vonleh minutes if Towns is a no-go tonight.

“I think that’s a possibility,” Saunders said when asked if we’ll see Vonleh get more minutes tonight. “Gorgui (Dieng) is good in pick-and-rolls too. But we did think back to Noah against DeAndre Jordan, against Jarrett Allen. It’s a possibility.”

Saunders also discussed the team’s decision to move Josh Okogie to the starting lineup in Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks. The lineup change moved former starting small forward Treveon Graham to a bench role.

“(With) Treveon, there are some things that don’t show up in the stat sheet,” Saunders said. “He’s very active in transition, screening for KAT, doing little things. You can’t always look at statistics or percentages. He is a guy who helps guys who are more ball-dominant. He gives himself up for the team with his cuts.

“Josh does a lot of those things, too. Josh has been active with his offensive rebounding. I liked what he did in Dallas with those things. Josh drawing fouls too is definitely a benefit.”

The Wolves will be tasked with keeping Steven Adams off the boards Friday night, which isn't a simple endeavor. The 6-foot-11-inch, 265-pound New Zealander is averaging 9.0 rebounds per game and is coming off of a 20-point performance against the Pacers. Saunders has a plan for utilizing Okogie to keep Adams off of the glass as much as possible.

“We talk a lot about engage rebounds, and when we say ‘engage rebounds,’ we mean whoever is guarding Adams or whoever Adams may be guarding, you have him,” Saunders explained. “He’s probably trying to wedge you underneath the basket. He’s sometimes able to get position whether you’re on offense or defense, so we need a guy that’s able to come from behind and basically take up the backside and not come over the top with a foul but come over the top when the guy is engaged. Josh is one of our best guys who does that.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.

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