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:
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If Magic fans want to enjoy this season, they should learn to appreciate J.J. Redick.
Let’s start with the simple: The Magic are bad. I don’t care if they arrived at MSP International with a 2-1 record and a Big Baby Davis MVP Campaign in full swing. By trading away Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson and getting nothing but Arron Afflalo of value in return, the Magic are a gutted roster headed straight to the lottery. Even with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love missing, the Wolves needed to win this game. Oh, and I didn’t even mention that Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s veteran point guard, was out with an injury. Nelson was replaced by former Purdue star and not good NBA player, E’Twan Moore. So yeah, this was a game the Wolves should win.
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Alan Anderson – AP Photo/David Goldman
Fresh off the opening-night, grind-it-out win over Sacramento, the Wolves travel to Toronto for Game Number 2 today. The contest will be televised on FSN North and NBA TV. If memory serves, that combination led to a dual blackout last year, and no League Pass recourse as the game was “available” on local networks. Here’s hoping that snafu has been fixed and Twin Cities fans will be able to watch. A few things to look for in this one:
- Kyle Lowry – If the season ended today, the only things keeping Lowry out of the MVP conversation would be James Harden and the Raptors .000 winning percentage. The feisty point guard is leading his team in per-game points (24.5) assists (8.0) rebounds (7.5) and steals (4.0). Remember when Kevin Garnett was the best player on the Timberwolves–with separation from 2nd-best that would rival any disparity in league history? Well, the gulf between Lowry and the Raps’ next-best isn’t that big. But he is, by far, the Raptors best player. Continue reading →