Good morning (afternoon) and welcome to Canis' coverage of day two of Summer League. I'm going to try and have a piece up each day around this time with quotes, news, and non-Wolves observations from my time out here.
Wolves? Don't Stress
There were many encouraging signs last night for the young Wolves in their 81-68 victory, but as there always is, there were plenty of signs of potential problems going forward. One of the most eyepopping statistical problems was the fouling. Karl-Anthony Towns finished the game with 9 fouls and Adreian Payne with 8 (it takes 10 to foul out in Summer League). When asked about this, coach Ryan Saunders was asked about fouling and wasn't worried.
"Yeah, but, you know, I'm actually not upset about that. Before the game, I told them to be aggressive, told all the guys to play with their hands on guys. You know, I said to get 10 fouls, so they used them all, pretty much!"
What this means is I don't think we'll see a change in approach in fouling moving forward this week. This doesn't necessarily mean they need to commit nine fouls every game, but as a method to encourage playing more physical defense, it's interesting to watch.
Karl-Anthony Towns started last night's game with an air-balled 3-pointer. He, like any other rookie, was nervous in his first semi-real NBA action, as you might guess. "I had a lot of butterflies, I was very nervous, legs felt heavy," Towns said after the game. "As the game went along I got more confident, started throwing some passes, started doing a few more things." I don't think he'll be discouraged from taking more 3s in the future.
Zach LaVine knew all about the rookie jitters that Towns experienced yesterday. "I remember my first game, luckily I had a dunk for my first game to get my nerves out of the way," he said after the game. "My first game, I was really nervous before the game, I got a lot more comfortable, and that's what he said too, so, I tried to tell him it's a long game, and we've got another 3, 4 after this, so we'll be alright."
Towns was also asked about playing on the perimeter as opposed to playing in the post, as he spent much of this game in the post against Tarik Black. His answer was perfect:
"I mean, that's the beauty of it. I try to work very hard in the gym to be as versatile as I can. Playing the the post today was a big thing. When you have (Tarik) Black, (Robert) Upshaw, and Julius Randle playing, you gotta be more physical, you gotta match their physicality. Other games, I can step out, shoot more, mismatch other people. Today was more of a low post game, we'll see how tomorrow goes."
He's clearly comfortable in either role, and, as been heavily documented elsewhere, John Calipari's insistence on Towns playing in the post has benefited his flexibility.
LaVine was upbeat about his finger after the game, and I don't think there's any worry of much there. When asked about it, he laughed and said, "I tried to dunk on the Larry Nance guy, tried to dunk on him, took a little chunk out of my finger, but I'm alright." He was very positive about it.
Other Fun Tidbits
The other games I saw yesterday were Kings-Raptors and Warriors-Cavaliers. The Kings looked like an absolute trainwreck offensively for most of the game and ended up losing by 20. George Karl was in the arena watching the game, and typically didn't look terribly pleased with proceedings. Willie Cauley-Stein did exactly what was advertised: great defense, a little bit of offense, terrible free throws. Sim Bhullar, while looking better than last year, still just doesn't move fast enough to do much other than get in the way on defense. For the Raptors, Bruno Caboclo looked great, showing great shooting touch from all over the court. He and Lucas Nogueira were the two best players on the court any time they were out there.
Warriors-Cavaliers was pretty uninspiring. James Michael McAdoo looked strong for the Warriors, and after being a key cog in their D-League championship, that shouldn't be a surprise. Not a single player on the Cavs' summer roster could shoot. Their starters combined for 7 field goals and 28 points. However, Rick Carlisle (head coach of the Dallas Mavericks) arrived at the start of the game and watched the entire thing very intently, which may or may not mean anything.
Assorted bigger-name NBA players made appearances and waves throughout the day. One of the funnier moments was Draymond Green running down the arena stairs with a couple of NBA security types a few steps behind, holding back a giant line of kids chasing and running after him. He looked like the Pied Piper and the spectacle was hilarious. Damian Lillard got mobbed as soon as he was discovered and had to go hide away from the incessant crowds.
Today, I'm heading over to Thomas & Mack for Knicks-Spurs, the prelude to Timberwolves-Bulls. Both should be fun games, and I'm very interested to see how Kristaps Porzingis looks in person. I'll be tweeting over on @canishoopus throughout the day with my thoughts.
Non-basketball thoughts: everything here is gigantic. I stayed in the MGM Grand one night as a splurge, and I'm pretty sure I lost weight walking to and from my room a couple of times. I also had In-N-Out for the first time last night: not half bad.
EDIT: Mika Prada of SBN NBA HQ wrote a nice piece on Towns' debut with additional comments from Timberwolves' GM Milt Newton. You can find it here.