I was thinking earlier today that it felt like a lot longer than a year since the Wolves have had a media day/training camp undertaking, and then I realized that that's because it has been a lot longer than a year. With last year's lockout and abbreviated season, no one got a chance to formally introduce themselves. Things just started.
Thankfully this year we get a full training camp to digest the seemingly billions of things that happened this past summer. Blanket changes have swept over the organization; not just a new roster, but a new TV crew, and even a new minority-who-will-soon-be-a-majority owner.
The changes, of course, are welcome in a lot of ways. Rubio's injury midway though last season killed our momentum (and our spirits), but also did us the favor of exposing critical weaknesses in the team....defense, depth, a lack of dynamic control, a lack of experience...that the Wolves went to great lengths to address this year.
That dynamic control was a big element to Adelman's offseason plans. As a lot of us noticed and commented on last season, Adelman would often resort to a two point guard lineup....sometimes even a three point guard lineup....and it wasn't because he had dreams out out-small-balling Don Nelson. He did it because it was the only way to get two or three competent ballhandlers on the floor.
It's been a long time since we've actually had that sort of ability on the wings. Ricky Davis is probably the last guy who fits the description, which tells you all you need to know. Since then we've had a bunch of guys only good in straight lines (Foye, Beasley, Martell Webster, Derrick Williams) and a couple who weren't good in any direction (Brewer, Wes) and that taught the team a pretty harsh lesson in roster balance that Adelman was quick to fix. Kirilenko is a classic jack-of-all-trades, and Shved and Roy (if he's healthy) are practically point guards as it is.
Adelman's been in the league a long time, and had a clearly established way of working. He likes balanced rosters. He likes versatility. He likes experience. His comments today seem to indicate he's pretty happy with how his first full summer and training camp in 'Sota is going.
"We were actually pretty good the first 40-plus games. The last 20-plus, we were awful. It just brought us right back to where we were the year before. We felt that we needed to make some changes. We needed some energy, needed a more versatile team with more ball handling than we had before…It’s just a time when you look around for people who are going to meet those needs. We’re fortunate that, just looking at the guys in the past week or so, we’ve got a chance to be a lot better in a lot of areas."
"We upped our passing game, and I think we’re going to be more versatile defensively. Just watching their scrimmage play, they’re already doing things that we need to be doing. They don’t have to think about it."
Kevin Love likewise appears upbeat, reinforcing his earlier comments that he has faith in the team after the whirlwind summer. He was particularly enthused about the arrivals of Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko, citing their past as winning players on winning teams under great coaches. He stressed the need for veteran leadership and experience, commenting about how Brad Miller was somewhat in a 'defending the Alamo' situation in that regard last year.
This team still has a lot of question marks, particularly about health. A lot is on the knees of Rubio and Roy. But all things considered, wondering whether otherwise great players are at 100% is a hell of a lot better than wondering if the players are any good to begin with. It's nice to finally start a season without having to think about that, for once.
The Timberwolves finalized the training camp roster last week, taking the players we already knew about and adding Will Conroy (G, Washington) Mike Harris (G/F, Rice) Chris Johnson (C, LSU) Phil Jones (F, UNC Charlotte) Seth Tarver (G, Oregon State) and Jermaine Taylor (G, Central Florida).