Things seemed a bit backwards when I first walked into the Taylor Center today.
For day 2 of Timberwolves training camp, the media was allowed in with about 7 minutes to go in a scrimmage, with a blowout looming. A team mainly comprised of young guys and bench players (Williams, Johnson, Muhammad, Brown, Dieng, Price, Jeffers) had nearly a 20-point lead on the opposition (Love, Rubio, Pekovic, Martin, Brewer, Shved, Barea, Turiaf).
I checked the scoreboard more than once. I thought the team in white must have been the 'away' team on the scoreboard today. But it turned out that the main rotation indeed ultimately took a pounding at the hands of the youngsters.
A couple highlights from that scrimmage included a pair of consecutive dunks by Chris Johnson. The first came from camp invitee Othyus Jeffers lobbing up an inbounds pass to Johnson, with the second quickly following off a turnover.
The first team woke up a bit towards the end. A couple nice plays by Brewer on the perimeter, and a three-pointer by Love got it down to 12 points, but that's as close as they got.
Despite a rough scrimmage for the starters, Kevin Martin wasn't worried.
"It reminds me of when I was in Sacramento, when I was a young guy going up against Mike (Bibby), Peja (Stojakovic), and C-Webb." he said. "We used to put a licking on them a lot, but on game nights, it was the complete opposite."
Courtesy of Dave Bassey
What was most discussed following practice was defense, more specifically vocal leadership on that end of the floor. The name brought up more than once was Nikola Pekovic, who not only is quiet by nature on the court, but also carries the burden of a heavy accent, making it tougher for him to communicate with teammates. Alexey Shved was also mentioned for identical reasons.
It isn't just them, though. This is an issue that Rick Adelman attributed to the majority of the team.
"You have to talk. It's funny, every coach you've probably ever talked to say 'these guys don't talk enough,'" He said. "In the locker room, they're talking all the time, but on the court they don't."
Adelman used Kevin Garnett as a prime example of vocal leadership on the defensive end. The Wolves' current All Star, also named Kevin, shares his coach's desire to get vocal on the defensive end.
"We both (Love and Pekovic) talk a lot off the court, so we damn well better be able to talk on the court."
A couple other notes:
- Shabazz Muhammad has gotten solid praise from both Coach Adelman and Kevin Love for his hustle and offensive rebounding ability. Love described his ability on the offensive glass as "relentless", and has talked to the rookie about keeping up the hustle.
- Still no word on an estimate for Budinger's return. When we have more, we'll let you know.
- It's tough to say who the favorite is for the final roster spot, but Adelman did mention wanting a guy with versatility for that last spot. That would lead me to believe the spot may go to one of Jeffers or Hummel. Still, it's early, and will likely become more clear as camp and the preseason run their course. The severity of Budinger's injury may be a factor as well.