No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns took center court after player introductions to address the wild crowd at Target Center before kicking off Wednesday night's open scrimmage.
He expressed gratitude for the support, and told fans to get ready for a show.
Karl-Anthony Towns addresses a wild crowd at Target Center. I don't even know if you can hear this but it was cool. pic.twitter.com/gi7SMjvjqy— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) July 9, 2015
Let the show begin!
In case you missed the scrimmage and didn't get the chance to see some of the videos posted on Twitter, here's some of the cooler stuff I was able to capture, along with others.
KAT v. G in the post. pic.twitter.com/au2BeXfBEx— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) July 9, 2015
I had a few takeaways...
- The Wolves are suddenly cool again. Walking outside of the Target Center, the buzz surrounding the area was crazy. People were everywhere, the skyways were packed, the box office was crammed full of excited fans, you could feel the positive energy.
- Towns dominated the intrasquad scrimmage like one would expect from the No. 1 pick, flashing an array of skills; a smooth Euro step in transition that led to an easy layup, hook shots with both hands, fadeaway jumpers that brought back memories of Garnett, an advanced understanding of pick-and-roll defense. The crowd was dazzled by his game. He was also incredibly vocal on the defensive end, calling out screens and directing rotations. His defensive rebounding was out of this world (again, keeping in mind this was merely an intrasquad scrimmage in July). His wingspan and stride length was stunning to see live. Everything he did looked simple. KAT finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds on 10-14 shooting in 24 minutes.
- Flip Saunders talked about the roster adding strength this summer during his end of season press conference. Zach LaVine was noticeably bigger in person last night. You could tell he's been hitting the weights hard.
- Perfect setting for LaVine to show out, and he absolutely did. At one point, he destroyed Tyus Jones with a baseline drive, basically blowing by him with an explosive first step, and finished with a filthy dunk. LaVine led the scrimmage with 25 points on 9-13 shooting (2-5 from deep) in 24 minutes. Yes, I know it was only a scrimmage, nobody should put much weight into the results, but he needs to dominate in this type of setting and that's exactly what happened. Watching him play off ball, attack the rim, and finish with powerful dunks that guys were scared to contest, was highly enjoyable...
Photo evidence that Zach LaVine has been hitting the weights this summer. pic.twitter.com/jQqIjgqrjt— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) July 9, 2015
- Which leads me to Lorenzo Brown, who scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds in 14 minutes. With the Wolves renouncing the qualifying offer to Robbie Hummel, along with their already crowded front court, you have to imagine Brown has the best chance of winning the final roster spot. His contract is non-guaranteed for next season (becomes guaranteed on January 7 if he's still on the 15-man roster). LoBro just plays the right way. Plenty of fans and media members are quick to point out how easy it is to "find a third point guard like Lorenzo," but the Wolves already found him. Why keep looking? They would be wise to keep another point guard on the roster who knows how to execute in the pick-and-roll on both ends of the floor. His presence also means LaVine can play almost exclusively at the two guard where he can play more to his strengths, namely catch-and-shoot opportunities and running in transition without the ball. If Rubio or Jones miss any time, the Wolves will be right back in the market for Brown, whereas Hummel - while a versatile and incredibly selfless teammate - will have a hard time finding any minutes even with injuries or DNP's (most likely from KG and Pekovic given what we know).
- Good to see Nikola Pekovic out of his walking boot and sitting behind the bench supporting the young guys. He underwent successful debridement and repair of his right Achilles on April 8. The original rehabilitation timetable was 5-6 months. No idea if that's changed or not, but obviously he still has plenty of work ahead of him this offseason.
- There was a noticeable improvement in Adreian Payne's shooting form. Remember that slow windup motion before releasing his jumpshot last season? Looks like the coaching staff has been working with him to get rid of that, which speeds up his release. He clanked a few long-two's, but the change looked better. Payne scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes. He was hovering again, between the free throw line and 3-point line, but otherwise his performance was about what we've come to expect (code for below average). KAT went to work on him on the low block a few times and won those battles. I'd like to see Payne take his game closer to the basket. He's a good rebounder who can finish well above the rim - we need to see those things more often!
The Godfather is in the hizzy. pic.twitter.com/osNvGQwwel— canishoopus (@canishoopus) July 9, 2015
- Andrew Wiggins was only there for the fans. He received the largest ovation from the crowd during player introductions, but it was clear he wasn't trying to do much in the scrimmage. Wiggins came to the showcase to help make the event even more crazy, not to steal the show. AP Sports Guy summed up Wiggins vibe really well with his tweet below.
Wiggins pretty much laying in the weeds tonight. Not interested in the hoopla. And I like that about him.— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 9, 2015
- Tyus Jones looked really smooth and in control of everything he was doing on the court. He played for both sides during the scrimmage - switching at halftime - and finished with nine points, eight assists, four rebounds, and two steals in 25 minutes. His ability to facilitate an offense and make the right pass was very noticeable. "Tyus, Tyus, Tyus" chants echoed throughout the arena at different points during the night. No surprise, the fans already love him. I should add that LaVine made him look bad a few times defensively, but there's going be growing pains with Jones on that end. After the game, Jones and Anthony took to the streets...
Towns on the crowd: "It was awesome. The crowd was unbelievable. It's amazing to think how passionate our fans are." #Twolves— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) July 9, 2015
There hasn't been this much excitement surrounding the team since Rubio's rookie season, and with the way the roster has really taken shape this summer it actually feels 100% warranted. Minnesotans are interested in the Wolves again. The NBA community as a whole is paying attention to this franchise again. That much was obvious last night.