A game was played Tuesday night between the Minnesota Timberwolves’ deep bench players and Israeli club Maccabi Ra’anana at Target Center. Said depth on the Timberwolves looked pretty lively, and mostly took the form of Luka Garza, as well.
Ra’anana is in the US playing a small tour of exhibition games, even with uncertainty back in its home country. A few recognizable names on Ra’anana roster:
- Ashton Hagans (former Timberwolves undrafted free agent in 2020)
- Dwayne Bacon
- Bruno Caboclo
- Mamadi Diakite
Chris Finch on hosting Maccabi Ra'anana amid the turmoil in Gaza: "The idea of war is to, unfortunately, break things, kill people. But the idea of humanity should be to stop it at all costs. I feel like it's hard to watch at every level."— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 17, 2023
On the court, the biggest storyline was the offensive utility of Luka Garza on display. MVP chants rained down on him as he stepped to the free throw line in the first quarter, and rightfully so, he was a walking flamethrower. He finished the first half with 20 points on just nine shots, and finished the game with 30.
“He’s one of our hardest workers,” Head Coach Chris Finch said after the game. “He sets a great tone for all of the other young guys. This summer he committed himself to getting into elite shape. He’s a tremendous player, a great system fit...and creates a lot of offense for himself and others.”
Finch thinks highly of Garza, and it shows with the amount of offensive leeway he was given in his first extended stretch of NBA action last season.
“He’s an NBA player, no doubt in my mind.”
Garza and Troy Brown Jr., as seemingly the only two players imminent of being in the rotation in desirable circumstances, headlined a group of two-way and Iowa-bound players in an effort to see what the Wolves have in emergency situations.
Brown showed the ability to be a spark plug in situations on Tuesday. His numbers from deep on the Los Angeles Lakers last season were good, but they fail to show his spotiness and inconsistency. However, even while playing an inferior opponent, tangible shotmaking and the ability to be a threat in transition reassured that his spot on the roster is one he can prove himself incredibly useful in, posting 13 points (5-7 FG). However, he was one of two players to finish in the minus, posting a -5.
Leonard Miller Sighting
The Wolves’ Summer League darling saw extended minutes against Ra’anana and continued to flash.
Miller finished the game with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and showed a lot of promise in a larger role on the fast-break. There are still clear signs of hesitation to his game, such as a late third quarter turnover in which he passed up an open three to try and drive into a crowd for a poster dunk. It’s clear he’s still trying to figure things out, and Finch pointed out that a part of it is figuring out what he’s going to do for a role to start out right away.
“[The biggest thing is] trying to firm up a role and style of play for him. He’s always just gone out and played, and that’s where some of his feel has come from....he reminds us a little bit of Vando.”
- Daishen Nix had a really nice game, and was one of two players on the Wolves with a double double, going along with Miller. He showed a lot of promise defensively and could be a solid option for Minnesota should they find themselves in an emergency situation in need of a guard, if he doesn’t end up on another roster.
- Josh Minott had the quietest 23 points I’ve ever seen. He did a lot of his work getting to the basket and finding his push shot. It seems as though he’s hunting his spots at the professional level and refining his game. He spoke afterwards about how he feels he’s improved markedly through the Wolves’ development program.
- Wendell Moore was the other player that ended up in the minus. He had a rough night overall and left a lot to be desired shooting the basketball. He may find a way to contribute this year in spots because of his defense, but it’s starting to be a little concerning in his lack of development on his jumper.
- Jason Siggers, a guard on Maccabi, is the father of Utah Jazz rookie Keyonte George, who was drafted with the Wolves’ first round pick this year by way of the Rudy Gobert trade. Siggers finished the game with 11 points.
The Wolves head to Chicago to take on the Bulls, Thursday at 7:00 PM CST. Expect the lineup to be a little closer to normal that it was against Maccabi, as Finch mentioned after the game that barring injuries, the top eight will be back in the fold.