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Timberwolves Lose to Pacers in Pre-season Opener

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The Wolves looked about as expected in their pre-season opener. The main team-wide takeaway is they cannot shoot the ball.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves dropped their pre-season opener tonight in Indiana to the Pacers 103-90. It was a fairly grim team display, with poor shooting and shot selection throughout, though it's not worth taking too much out of this from a team perspective. All five of the Wolves who played 20+ minutes tonight are rookies or 2nd year players.

The Wolves were without several players expected to see minutes this season as Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Mo Williams, and Anthony Bennett were held out of the action. Pekovic and Martin will be main offensive cogs this year, and missing them meant a lot of shots from sub optimal shooters. The Wolves hoisted up a lot of two point jumpers, very few of which hit the mark.

I think I'll just do some quick bullet points on individual players:

  • Andrew Wiggins. There is obviously a player here. He led the team in minutes (32) and points (18). He took some poor 20 footers and wound up shooting 4-11 overall, but got to the line 10 times and made both of his threes. He also blocked 3 shots and grabbed 3 offensive boards. There is obviously stuff to work on, including getting stronger around the rim and ball handling, but there was a lot to like.
  • Zach LaVine. Ouch. His 2-9 included a lucky banked in 3 pointer. His shooting looked horrible. He ran the point at times, and somehow wound up with 4 assists, but also 5 turnovers. He really doesn't look ready to play.
  • Gorgui Dieng: Finished with 16 and 10, including 5 offensive boards, though a bunch of those numbers were collected in 4th quarter garbage time. similar to what we saw from him last season; hard to tell if he's gotten stronger in the post.
  • Shabazz Muhammad: Exactly the same stuff we saw last season. More or less a black hole who never passes, he got up 11 shots, 3 of which went in, and 3 of which were blocked. 3 of his 4 rebounds were on the offensive glass. He forced up a ton of bad shots, mostly in traffic inside, and while he's strong, he isn't explosive enough to succeed on those.
  • Ricky Rubio: 1-6. Several missed midrange shots of the type we saw all last season. A comment: as bad as he is at those shots, I feel like he takes them pretty much only when he doesn't see a passing lane and doesn't think they have a chance to get a better shot. The problem is he gets those so easily because teams don't guard it, which makes everything else so much harder. Still. He was 0 +/- in a game the team lost by 13 (he only played the first half), and was the only non-negative player until the late garbage time run. Things work better when he's out there, even when he misses shots.
  • Thad Young. A bright spot. Only played 18 minutes, scored 12 on 5-10 from the field. Looked like a professional, which is what the Wolves need. Much smoother with the ball than I remember, but maybe my memory is doing tricks.
  • Corey Brewer. Brew's gonna Brew. Only played 16 minutes, but made some nice finishes in transition and semi-transition. We know what Brewer is.
Given the absences, it's hard to say what this team is going to look like going forward. We knew shooting was going to be an issue. Getting good shots (and recognizing them) is also likely to be a problem. But obviously this was the first game, and guys were out there in combinations we probably won't see in the regular season.

What did you think?