I'm sure you've heard by now, the Wolves are hosting a free scrimmage featuring the franchises young talent tonight at Target Center.
The organization pulled off the "Dunks After Dark" event down in Mankato last year as an opening to their 2014-15 training camp. It was televised live on NBATV, which seemed like a great way to bring attention and drum up excitement around the team a month before the season started.
This year the Wolves aren't waiting for training camp to show off the youth movement. They're doing it before Summer League even starts, changing the name to the "Summer Showcase," and bringing it live to Minneapolis.
Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Adreian Payne will no longer be rookies when they take the court tonight. That distinction will belong to Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones, the No. 1 and No. 24 overall selections in the NBA draft. Third-year players Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng will join the party, which begins at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
According to Jerry Zgoda, everyone on the summer league roster aside from Wiggins, Muhammad, and Dieng will leave for Las Vegas afterwards, where play begins Friday for the Wolves against the Lakers. Additionally, there are some good quotes from Muhammad and LaVine on the new practice facility in Zgoda's article (linked above).
Since the rookie contracts are slotted, the signings of Towns and Jones don't necessarily constitute as "newsworthy," but for those wondering about the contractual details, you can find them below.
2017 and 2018 are both club options, as per the standard rookie contract, and they will be restricted free agents in 2019.
Jeff Van Gundy was at the Wolves Summer League practice yesterday visiting his good friend, Flip Saunders. He was later spotted at Target Field, taking in the Twins game with the coaching staff.
I spy Flip Saunders, Jeff Van Gundy, Ryan Saunders and Sid Lowe in club level at #MNTwins game. They hang, chat and laugh as others depart.— Andy Greder (@twolvesnow) July 8, 2015
Maybe the get together means something, like Van Gundy might be interested in checking out the young players and new facilities because he might have interest in coaching the Wolves, or maybe it means absolutely nothing. Maybe the two are just close friends and Van Gundy wanted to come spend a day in Minneapolis to see how everything is shaping up with a team that an old friend has molded.
Who really knows. Plenty of people will have theories. At the very least, it's interesting to consider the possibility of JVG coaching the Wolves down the road.
Sid Hartman published a column last June on Saunders deciding he was the right choice to coach. That article included the following:
There wasn't any doubt that Timberwolves President Flip Saunders was dying to get back into coaching, despite the insistence of owner Glen Taylor that he wouldn't allow Saunders to do both jobs.
The one exception in Saunders' mind was if he could get a superstar coach to guide the Wolves. And Saunders said he tried, starting out with his former ESPN colleague Jeff Van Gundy.
"The first guy that I went to and tried to get was Jeff Van Gundy. He was the first guy," Saunders said Thursday, when word came out that he would coach the Wolves next season. "... He's a guy that Glen and I were comfortable [with] and would have hired him off the bat. I feel like he's the best coach, the best coach out there and has a lot of the same philosophies.
"As Jeff said to me, I talked to him this morning, and he said, ‘Whenever I go somewhere I want to feel that I'm the right guy for that job.' He said, ‘The reason I didn't go to Minnesota was because I felt you were the right guy for the job, not me, and I was uncomfortable.' "
For what it's worth, I'm betting this meeting was somewhat intended to keep the door open on a possible comeback for JVG to the sidelines. He hasn't coached since 2007 with the Houston Rockets, where he spent four seasons and had one losing season, but the Rubio-Wiggins-Towns trio, along with the other young prospects on the roster, might be enough to shift his interest.
Glen Taylor and Flip Saunders have publicly confirmed that Saunders will coach the team next season. Perhaps yesterday's get together is the first step in luring Van Gundy back to the sidelines.
Gorgui Dieng stats to chew on...
I was going to write an article on Gorgui Dieng for the morning post today - specifically how he functions better as a backup center coming off the bench to play between 20-25 minutes a night, a role where his flaws can be minimized, and particularly how the past season put too much pressure on him to perform without fouling because of injuries and depth issues - but instead, let's just look at some of his stats from last season.
- Logged 12% of his 2193 minutes at power forward. These minutes mostly came when Flip was testing out the Dieng-Pekovic tandem.
- 13th in total offensive rebounds with 223. 17th in offensive rebound percentage.
- Tied for 11th (Brook Lopez) in total blocks (126), 12th in blocks per game (1.7) and 12th in block percentage (4.5) which was the highest rate on the Timberwolves. Justin Hamilton finished at 4.6% but didn't play enough games to qualify.
- Dieng finished 18th in Defensive Box Plus/Minus (2.4), which is a box score estimate of the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team.
- G possesses one killer bank shot which became a new weapon in his offensive arsenal, and his most potent one, during his sophomore campaign. Dieng shot 77.6% on Bank Shots.
- 2FG% drops almost ten percent (55.3 to 45.9) when Dieng takes one dribble. When he takes two dribbles it falls to 33.3 percent. So... less dribbling would be cool. He gets called for traveling after his pump fake near the elbow at an alarming rate, shuffling his feet all the time during this sequence.
- 16.9 percent of the time Dieng commits a turnover as the roll man in the pick-and-roll (14th worst via Synergy).
- 55.8% Opp FGP at Rim (Opponent Field Goal Percentage at the Rim). Among centers in the league who played over 15 mpg and 40+ games, only Enes Kanter (56.9%) posted a worse percentage. The three leaders among big men were Gobert (40.4%), Ibaka (40.8%), and Bogut (41.4%).