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Monday Musings: The Bjelicaissance

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Nemanja Bjelica could be beginning a career resurgence.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have played one preseason game, which was not televised or broadcasted in any manner. This would make it somewhat intellectually irresponsible to extrapolate anything substantial based on the game.

However, now that we have an entirely new front office and head coach, it is fair to look for any potential changes in the team’s on-court play, as well as what is staying the same. We already hopefully saw a glimpse of what will come with the team attempting 23 three-pointers, which they only attempted more than that five times all of last year.

One takeaway from the game is the first signs a resurgence for one Timberwolf, even a renaissance if you will.

Nemanja Bjelica, as Mathew McConaughey before him, is due for a renaissance.

(All credit to Poop Hat for title)

Bjelica had a nice game coming off the bench, with 12 points (2-5 from deep), five rebounds, one assist, and two steals in 26 minutes. He was first off the bench with Kris Dunn in the first half, and then the first one off the bench again in the second half.

Bjelica, by all accounts, was confident, which is an important leap for him to take this year as he is still getting used to the NBA. He also only committed one foul in the 26 minutes, another problematic thing that kept him off the court in the previous year.

Here he is letting it fly from deep, albeit after some encouragement from Karl-Anthony Towns.

Among the Canis editors, many have been quite bullish on Bjelica’s prospects in this new year, as John Meyer has already so thoroughly demonstrated here. Bjelica, to at least the national media, is something of an afterthought on this team, which is understandable considering the bevy of young talent they possess.

However, our new head coach Tom Thibodeau has often been praising Bjelica and the well-rounded skill set he brings to the team. It would not be surprising to see Bjelica have a more central role this year, as he brings a lot of the stretch-four skills to the position.

While Gorgui Dieng certainly earned his starting spot with the team, it would be strategically helpful to have Bjelica and Dieng be somewhat matchup dependent, as their diametrically opposed skill sets give the team several different looks on offense and defense. At the very least, Bjelica and Cole Aldrich look to form a promising bench frontcourt.

An important thing to remember with Bjelica is simply that he has an extensive track record of success with his time in the European Leagues. While those achievements do not immediately translate to impact in the NBA, it is not as if the flashes of success that Bjelica had last year were the only indications that he can have a positive effect on the court. Professor Big Shots has been doing it for years and now it is time for us to see it translate in a sustainable manner to the NBA.

Stray Thoughts

- Joel Embiid is perhaps the most self-aware NBA player in relation to his reputation on the NBA blogosphere. It might have something to do with the fact that he was out for the past two seasons and instead of playing, he could have been spending that time scouring the Internet. While he was sidelined in the last two years, he was already an NBA Twitter darling as he would tweet out to LeBron to try to entice him to the 76ers during LeBron’s free agency, or tweeting about “Shirly Temples did this.

Now that Embiid is on the court, he has further stepped up his online game, going as far to ask the announcer to unofficially add “The Process” as his middle name. As long as Embiid is playing for the Sixers, it seems they will never be able to fully rid themselves of Sam Hinkie’s influence as Embiid has co-opted it as part of his NBA personality.

- The Ringer has a nice article today about the “Shot Doctors” of the NBA, specifically touching upon Chip Engelland and his time with the San Antonio Spurs. Article here.