The Wolves host Moscow CKSA tomorrow night for their preseason opener. Moscow is Alexey Shved’s old team. It includes a small list of players that American hoops fans might recognize. Jeremy Pargo, for instance, was a star guard at Gonzaga and has had a few cups of coffee in the NBA. His best work — an assortment of posterizations — can be found on Youtube. Nenad Krstic played seven NBA seasons. He’s only 30 years old and presumably still plays basketball at a high level. Sonny Weems was a rotation player, if a mediocre one, for the Raptors, a couple seasons ago. And Victor Khryapa was an integral part of Russia’s bronze-medal performance in the 2012 Olympics. From the forward position, Khryapa rebounds, passes and shoots a high percentage from three.
For the Timberwolves players, it’ll be the first chance to test out new sets and plays, and to compete with one another instead of what must seem like endless position battles in practice scrimmages. For the coaches, it will be the first look at an updated roster with the game lights on. There will be a crowd, officials, and an opponent. Although the projected starting lineup seems set — barring any additional injuries, of course — there remain some outstanding questions in the playing rotation.
For the fans, here are a few things to look out for in an otherwise meaningless exhibition:
I finally took a look at some League-wide preseason stats, trends, and anomalies. Much of the data looks just like we’d expect. But the preseason always produces a few surprises and some good laughs.
A few of the things that stood out to me are below the fold.
Pek will happily run any Pacer through ye olde wood chipper!
It’s on. It’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Twolves. Pacers. 7:00 tonight. Fargo.
Fargo, baby, Fargo!
Pek and his wood chipper. K-Love and Danny Granger getting chippy. Paul George’s defense.
No TV or radio, so you’ll have to keep ‘specially close tabs on Mark Remme & the carrier pigeons Andy G and I deployed to the Fargodome to bring you the latest news and analysis.
Can Shved man the point in Rubio’s stead?
Andy G: The team has returned from Mankato with optimism abound. Is it something in the air? Or was it Mrs. Taylor’s home cooking? Why is everybody so jacked up about this Wolves team after only a handful of practices?
Patrick J: We should be optimistic because Rick Adelman is optimistic. Not one to mince words, Adelman was adamant during last season’s training camp about how sloppy the team looked. His words foreshadowed the truth, and the team had a lot of trouble with turnovers and ballhandling in general. This season, we keep hearing things from Team Adelman about how this group “knows how to play.” And not just the vets–praise keeps getting heaped on newcomers like Alexey Shved, who’s in the running to get major minutes at the point, and Derrick Williams, who was anything but an Adelman favorite last year. I don’t think Adelman’s doing charity for these guys’ egos–I think what he sees is what we were all hoping he’d see: a vastly, vastly improved team.
Onto specifics: There are a few key things to watch for in the preseason. #1: Is Alexey Shved a point guard? Should he get the bulk of the minutes there over Barea? (I suppose this question is actually two questions, since it assumes BAREA is a pg, which I’m not so sure about.)