Wolves Season Opener Talk, Bell Injury Update And Culver Impressing The Veterans
After about a month of training camp and preseason, here we are, on the verge of the NBA regular season tipping off.
The Minnesota Timberwolves start their season on Wednesday against the Nets in Brooklyn. That feels about right considering the Wolves have three former Nets on their team – guard Shabazz Napier, wing Treveon Graham and assistant coach Pablo Prigioni.
The Wolves basically got Napier and Graham for nothing in a trade, and Prigioni was lauded as a huge get for the team’s coaching staff. There are certainly worse ideas than taking pieces from a Nets team that won 42 games last season, a 14-win increase from the previous season. Slowly, the Nets have gone from oh, the Nets . . . to OH, THE NETS!
All of those guys have certain things that the Wolves looked for when adding to their team. Obviously, these were traits the three have built up over their career, not just with the Nets. But those are also traits the Nets, a team on the up-and-up, also value.
“It’s a selflessness for the group,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “Understanding that the greater group is where your strength lies. That’s a credit to Brooklyn and the way that they built. From a place of having a low number of draft picks to being in a position they’re in now, being one of the better teams in the league. . . It’s not a surprise that they built that the right way.”
Saunders brings up a good point. The Nets traded their future (picks, among other assets, that would end up turning into Jaylen Brown, Markelle Fultz and Collin Sexton) in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett deal back in 2013.
The Nets made the playoffs last season and turned up the noise real loud this offseason, signing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. While Durant probably won’t play this season, Napier said that there really isn’t too much intel he can give on his old team. It’s a new season.
“I’m pretty sure they changed up (things),” Napier said. “They got a great group of guys over there. Great additions. It’s definitely going to be a great task for us to go there and try to get a win.”
The Wolves will have one more practice on Tuesday before the fly out to play the Nets in Brooklyn. Tipoff is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.
Jordan Bell Injury Update
Timberwolves center Jordan Bell missed three of the team’s five preseason games due to a left calf strain.
He admitted on Monday that he’s not ramped up all the way to where he would be had he not suffered the injury, but he’s getting closer.
“I feel pretty good,” Bell said. “They’re still not letting me go full blast yet. They’re still taking it slow because it’s kind of a tricky injury, but they’re slowly but surely giving me more minutes every day, giving me more things to do every day.”
With Bell not being able to play this preseason as much as he would have liked, it’s tough to say how many minutes he’ll play in the team’s rotation, especially to start the season. This seems like a situation where the Wolves ease him into it, rather than putting up there for 20-25 minutes in the opening week. We’ll see, though.
Rookie Impressing The Vets
Jarrett Culver has been a major positive for the Wolves throughout training camp and preseason. By my estimation, he’s been better than what they probably thought he’d be. He’s going to play a big part on this team and with Zion Williamson’s unfortunate injury, don’t be shocked if you see Culver’s name in the Rookie of the Year conversations.
He’s already won over his teammates.
“He knows how to play the game,” Napier said. “I think he’s been doing a great job for us, especially at that point guard spot. He’s kind of a combo guard for us at the moment. He’s obviously defensively he’s one of the best. He’s real good for a rookie defensively. . . Great showing for us this preseason.”
The Wolves will be back at practice tomorrow. We’ve got you covered on, well, all the coverage.