I don't think this will be a consistent addition to this website. Posting the thoughts I jotted down Saturday as content for the Sunday thread felt like a decent idea. The idea is to be brief and to the point. Not complex.
We know Kyrylo Fesenko and Brady Heslip were invited to participate at training camp, although it is unlike either player makes the final roster. So, why bring these guys in?
What use will they have?
Admittedly, I had no idea who Fesenko was before I saw him play with the Wolves at the Las Vegas Summer League. For those that don't know, he's a heavy-set 27 year old center who has played professionally overseas, the NBA as well as in the D-League. Fesenko has NBA size -- this is something that cannot be taught -- and is seasoned with enough experience to simulate types of movement Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng and Thaddeus Young will matchup against during the season.
Mainly, though, having Fesenko around will lighten Pekovic's workload-- this is something Flip Saunders has been adamant about doing. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune sat down with Saunders for a Q and A session, here's a link to read the entire thing, below is an excerpt from the conversation.
Zgoda: How much effort did the team make this summer to get and keep Pekovic healthy? How confident are you those measures will work?
Saunders: A lot of things: We sent him out to Nike and they're getting him a shoe out there. We had people go work with him in Montenegro. He has seen a couple different doctors and physical therapists to identify the problem he's having with his bursa. With Gorgui [Dieng] improving and Ronny (Turiaf) being healthy, we can get Pek down to 26, 27 minutes a night, so he's not going to have to play 12 minutes at a time. He's a big guy. If you can't change his weight, you change his workload so his body doesn't take such a pounding.
As David Adelman expressed in Las Vegas, Fesenko's movement reflects experience obtained playing at the NBA level for multiple years. There was a hint of admiration in the way Adelman spoke about Fesenko, or, "Fes."
When I asked Zach LaVine how nice it was to have such a large target to work with in pick-and-roll situations, he stated; "Yea, Fes and Gorgui are both big targets that roll to the right spots on the floor. Once they get the ball they know what to do with it."
The problem, which isn't necessarily a complex one, was, at times, LaVine would try to force passes to Fesenko in Dieng when perhaps he should've just tried a jump shot. Perhaps David Adelman told me this behavior is a byproduct of LaVine's unselfishness.
"Yea, you look at it (LaVine's passing in p-&-r situations) is as a positive and a negative, it shows you what type of kid he is. He's really trying to show that he can play both spots and facilitate a lil bit. But he's so naturally talented, he almost just needs to go out and take what's his. He's been so unselfish, and we [as coaching staff] understand that. He's just trying to do the right thing for his team."
Brady Heslip is another player who, despite not likely to make the final roster, can mimic some NBA caliber skills-- he is undeniably a three-point specialist. Players who can shoot well from long range naturally open up more space on the floor.
Flip Saunders can deploy Heslip and instruct his players on the ways he wants to see them defend sharpshooters. Because Saunders has said he plans to experiment with man-to-man and zone defenses this season, he would be wise to use Heslip to accurately imitate how opponents will use a shooter against these schemes. Communication between players on the defensive end is incredibly important to any defensive strategy.
As far as Heslip's NBA future is concerned, he's got to keep working. That's what Ryan Saunders says, anyway. Saunders was asked for his thoughts on this subject, he replied; "Brady's a good kid. If he keeps workin', I think there's a place for him in this league."
Fesenko and Heslip may not make the final roster, and most of us don't expect that they will. Fesenko's window to one day return to the NBA may be shrinking. As for Heslip, who is just beginning his professional career, the invitation to Wolves training camp will be a learning experience to build off of.
For right now, though, they just need to help make the Wolves better prepared for the upcoming season. Or else they won't be invited back.