Notes on a Media Day

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The Wolves hosted Media Day on Monday, marking the beginning of the 2019-20 season.  Aside from the visual experience of seeing each player — many new faces among them — the main event is the line of press conferences.  They began with a joint conference from #RosasAndRyan, and then ticked off every one of the guys on the preseason roster.

Here are a few simple observations of this writer:

Gersson Rosas & Ryan Saunders

Two stars of the show.  They have different personalities and speaking styles — Rosas speaks more authoritatively with clearer sentences.  Ryan uses more gesturing to connect with the person asking the question, while showing less public-speaking confidence than his partner in crime (which, to be fair, is a high standard to meet — Rosas is very polished). Rosas comes off more prepared, but Ryan comes off more genuine.

The most interesting part of their presser was when discussing the implementation of their preferred style of play, and the possibility that — on some nights — it might not mesh with existing Wolves personnel.  After Ryan hemmed and hawed a bit, signaling that they might be flexible and adapt to game-by-game situations, Rosas spoke more directly and effectively asserted that short-term pains would not get in the way of long-term priorities.  I took this to mean that Rosas wants basketball played “the right way” even if it doesn’t lead to wins in the 2019-20 season.

Andrew Wiggins

Wiggins hasn’t changed much as a public speaker — he’s calm, polite, and doesn’t say a whole lot — but he thinks he will change as a player.  He says his offseason was different “on the positive side” with a more consistent schedule that involved daily training sessions and competition with other NBA players.  He’s discussed “limiting the long twos” with Ryan, and understands the value of layups and threes.  I found it a little bit interesting that he speaks about “getting back to” playing well, and says he hasn’t “lost a step.”  These both acknowledge that the last two seasons weren’t good enough, but also imply that he was on the right track before that.  (FWIW: I think he was on the right track, but he was hardly free of internet-analysis controversy in 2015-17 either.)

Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT came out with a script, which isn’t unusual.  He was very energized and oozing positive vibes.  He took a teed-up question about increased playmaking this season to explain that he’s “never been a scorer” and he “used to play point guard.”

Okay. C’mon.

Anyway, there were two nice things to take away from KAT’s presser.  The first was that he talked about “giving up 140-plus” points last season (presumably referring to the later part of the season when the D was slipping toward disastrous territory) and that, to me, was nice self-awareness of the team’s primary area of improvement.  The second was how, when asked about measuring success this season, he just bluntly said “wins and losses.”  Unlike the POBO and Coach, the star player says that wins and losses are the only way to measure success or failure.  That Towns, in hypothesizing what a “rough patch” might look like, contemplated “losing two games in a row,” suggests that he has high expectations for this team, this year.

Gorgui Dieng & Josh Okogie

Gorgui remains a strong interview, and an intense one.  He has a penetrating stare when answering questions about his own abilities that matches the pride he demonstrates on the floor during games.  He may not see much playing time this year, especially as the team transitions away from “two traditional bigs” lineups, but you can bet he’ll be ready when his number is called.

Okogie says that last year he brought energy and this year he wants to bring focus and smarts.  Call me crazy, but I kinda liked Wild Okogie better than Controlled Okogie.

Jordan Bell

New guy Jordan Bell, who Towns singles out when talking about teammates, acknowledges that he’s being encouraged to shoot more.  But he seems more excited about his defensive ability, sharing that he’d like the challenge of guarding the other team’s best player.  I found that a note worth jotting down and saving for later.

Jeff Teague

Nobody quite knows what’s in store for Jeff Teague in the remainder of his time in ‘Sota.  He’s under Kahntract for this season and no others, and it’s reasonable to wonder if he’ll be moved before the trade deadline.  During the photo shoot there were lots of shots taken of a five-man crew that included Okogie and Jarrett Culver, and conspicuously omitted Teague.

But when Teague grabbed the mic, you wouldn’t suspect anything was amiss.  He spoke positively about the new Wolves leadership and anticipated style of play, saying that there would be a “whole different brand of basketball,” where everyone pushes the ball — not just Teague himself.

For now, all seems fine with Jeff Teague.

Jarrett Culver

The rookie was stirring no pots and saying all the right things.  The most pointed questions lobbed his way were about his possible future as a point guard.  He half-agreed with the notion that it could happen, but always qualifying that he’ll do whatever the coaches ask of him.  He’s a rookie and acts like it.

Robert Covington

Covington mostly spoke about his bone bruise injury last year, the mental/emotional difficulties he had coping with his prolonged recovery, and his excitement about being back to 100 percent with a better sense of how to deal with any future problems.  Oh, and playing power forward is not going to be a problem for RoCo — he was certain of that.

Training Camp starts tomorrow, in Mankato!

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