Timberwolves Summer League Preview and Game 1 Recap
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced their summer league roster. Tonight they played their first game of the summer league season, losing 88-82 to the Denver Nuggets.
What to watch for in Summer League
The Wolves summer league roster has a mixture of old, for a summer league team, and new talent. The roster according to the Wolves official website is headlined by Kris Dunn and late first rounder from last season Tyus Jones. The roster also contains:
- Adreian Payne -- F, two years of experience
- Keith Benson -- C, one year of experience
- Coty Clarke -- F, one year of experience
- Majok Deng -- F, rookie
- Jerrid Famous -- F/C, rookie
- Kris Joseph -- F, one year of experience
- Toure' Murry -- G, second year of experience
- Kevin Punter -- G, rookie
- Xavier Silas -- G, one year of experience
- Scott Suggs -- G, rookie
- Devin Thomas -- F, rookie
Now, here's what to watch for as a Wolves fan as the team plays in Las Vegas over the next few weeks.
1. Kris Dunn
The NBA's fifth overall pick, Dunn will get a chance to prove in this short set of games that he belongs in the NBA. Dunn doesn't have to fill the stat sheet with an abundance of points, but instead, he needs to show aggressiveness offensively and defensively. He also needs to show he can take care of the ball. Simply playing will also be important, as he'll be splitting time with second-year point guard Tyus Jones. Playing off the ball may be exactly what he'll be doing this season as the plan as of now is playing Dunn with Ricky Rubio.
2. Tyus Jones
Jones had an okay rookie season, appearing in 37 games for 15.5 minutes per game and averaging 4.6 points with 2.9 assists. After a national championship in his one season at Duke, Jones proved he has the ability to come up big in important moments, but his size may be the one thing holding him back. In this summer league he needs to prove he belongs with the big boys, as he is fighting against pure point guards Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn, and quasi point guard Zach LaVine for playing time.
3. Adreian Payne
Payne on the other hand played in more games than Jones last season but had very minimal production, averaging just over two points and rebounds in his 9.3 minutes per game in 52 games. Payne has a bigger opportunity to play with the Wolves having only three big men in their primary rotation as of now, and not really knowing what they will get from Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic this season. To gain playing time, Payne will need to prove that he can be a difference maker on defense and that he has a consistent stroke from beyond the arc. With very little competition for playing time on this summer league roster, Payne should have plenty opportunities to prove himself.
This could be make or break for both Tyus Jones and Adreian Payne. Both are former first round picks and both are faced with an uphill climb for playing time on this roster. That climb starts in summer league.
In a game that the Timberwolves led for three quarters, their offense went cold in the fourth and they scored only 12 points in the quarter, as they dropped their first of at least five games in the Vegas Summer League 88-82.
Kris Dunn filled the stat sheet in his NBA summer league debut, scoring 27 points on 10-18 shooting to lead both teams. Adreian Payne, who was fed the ball in the post constantly, scored 17. However, he shot only 6-20 from the field.
The two of them however, with the help of Tyus Jones' 12 points, couldn't match the production from the Nuggets quadruplets of young wings, Gary Harris, Juan Hernangomez, Jamal Murray, and Emmanuel Mudiay. The four players scored in order, 22, 13,14, and 23 scoring all but 16 of their team's points.
Dunn showed his athleticism early on finishing an ally-oop from Tyus Jones and also showed his diverse offensive game, finishing inside and hitting some outside jumpers. Tyus Jones was able to impact the game without scoring a huge amount as the small guard led both teams in rebounds with 10, while dishing out 4 assists to go along with his 12 points.
The Timberwolves will be playing again on Sunday at 5:00 PM against the Toronto Raptors. That will be the second of three games before a seeded tournament will begin with every team guaranteed of playing two games in the tournament.