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Wolves Whoop Nuggets in Game 2

Today the Wolves drew the Denver Nuggets, dominating throughout 90-71.

NBA:  Summer League-Final-Chicago Bulls vs Minnesota Timberwolves Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

While at a Vegas Summer League game, there is very little incentive to look at the scoreboard. It just doesn’t seem to really matter. These games, for players, are about sticking out individually. Hopefully in a positive way. For those watching, assessments are thus hyper-focused on individuals. “Who won their one-on-one matchup?” or “Who had the best single play?” Being a good team player who contributed to a win just isn’t that important because, here, winning just isn’t that important.

Wolves won 90-71.

Sticking Out in a Positive Way

Matt Costello Costello had the “best single play” of the day. On the swing, Costello saw a shift in the defense and attacked. On the attack, he was met at the rim by the help defense of Malik Beasley only to go up and over the top of Beasley. Leaving him on a poster, as they say.

Costello contributed in all areas. The dunk sticks out, but his physicality made him the proverbial men amongst the boys grabbing 15 rebounds in 27 minutes.

Marcus Paige — In the context of Summer League, Paige profiles in the Steph Curry archetype. Not only firing a high volume of threes (six today) but also by playing with some serious craft around the rim. At 6’1”, that craft would be a necessity should he ever play at the next level. The play that sticks out from Paige today was the first play of the day when he attacked the rim, drew contact, extended his wingspan, and converted a difficult lefty lay-up.

On eye-test, it seems Paige would be the most likely player to earn a two-way contract — G-League, and NBA — with the Wolves.

Perry Ellis — Ellis was a problem for the Nuggets. On offense, when he would catch near the paint he had no problem getting up his shot—a sequence of hooks, fades, and lay-ins. Most impressive was his three-point stroke. Very clean. Nine of his 19 points were on threes, only missing twice. His defense was ugly. Or, at best, nonchalant. Not a good move when your team’s President of Basketball Operations is Tom Thibodeau.

Stuck out in a Negative Way

Deonte Burton Burton followed up his four points (1 of 5 shooting) performance on Saturday with zero points (0 of 5 shooting) this evening. His game is very disorganized.

What has come to fruition with Burton is an unfortunate reality as there was some hope the 6’5” forward could profile as a role player for the Wolves.

Amile Jefferson — It wasn’t that Jefferson played poorly (six points, three boards, and two assists,) rather it was his lack of playing time that stuck out. The Duke forward who plays like the love child of Gorgui Dieng and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute only played 10 total minutes, four of which were the closing minutes with the game out of hand.

Malik Beasley — The Nuggets sophomore who was drafted 19th overall a year ago didn’t stand out. That’s weird to say as Beasley scored nearly a third of Denver’s points (20). Bagging three of his five shots he took from long range.

Again, this comes back to the eye of the beholder test. Maybe having played (some) in his rookie season set up expectations, for Beasley, to be a sophomore who stands out in Summer League. In my opinion, he did not.

The Wolves will be back in action Tuesday 7:30 pm CST against the summer Warriors who lost their first game to the summer Sixers 95-93.

Other Notes From Summer League

  • Before the Wolves played across the pavilion was a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Hawks blew me away with their talent, particularly Taurean Prince and Deandre Bembry. Both look to be certified pros. Prince — who typically profiles as a defender — was able to showcase an offensive skill set I did not know he possessed.
  • The Pelicans — who took the “L” — were less impressive, save for Cheick Diallo. Diallo was extremely physical with the Hawks first round pick, John Collins out of Wake Forest. From my perspective, Diallo won that matchup.
  • While the Wolves were playing at Thomas and Mack (the main court), Minnesota was well represented down the hallway in the Cox Pavillion. Cooper High School’s Rashad Vaughn went “full nuclear” according to Sam Vecenie who chose to watch that game instead of the Wolves. Vaughn had 31 points missing only one shot that was not a three. He also added eight rebounds to a stuffed stat sheet.
  • Trent Lockett and Sanjay Lumpkin of Hopkins High School (my alma matter) also squared off in the early game. Lockett is playing for the Hawks and Lumpkin is playing for the Pelicans. Lumpkin is Jim Petersen’s step-son.
  • Later this evening the Grizzlies and Kings square off at 9:00 pm CST (NBATV) and the Sixers and Spurs play at 9:30 pm CST (ESPN2).