Working in defiance of every journalism class I’ve ever taken, we are going to do this recap by starting with the parts that doesn’t matter and working our way to the bigger stuff that does.
The least important part of this game was the final score, as the Wolves beat the Pacers 94-80. This was irrelevant for three reasons. 1) It’s the preseason. Wins and losses mean literally nothing. 2) The Wolves ACTUALLY won this game by quite a bit more than 14, as their scrubs at the end allowed the game to get closer and 3) It’s the preseason. Seriously, it means nothing.
Slightly more important: this game took place in Fargo, part of the preseason tour that teams usually go on to reach out to their fans in other places. According to the T-Wolves website, over 9,000 fans attended, so kudos to Fargo (my old stomping grounds) for a preseason game well attended.
So now let’s get to some bullet points. It should be noted that we’ve seen one preseason game, so it’s too early to tell anything for sure (indeed, it might be too early to even guess), but these are all points that MIGHT matter.
- Pek looks RIPPED. It has been well publicized how much he has worked out this summer, and it’s clearly visible.
- Everything is so backward in preseason. I literally couldn’t care less about Kevin Love’s 12 points. Instead, I care that Lou Amundson came in off the bench, grabbed a couple rebounds and played with a lot of energy. I actually watched a game in which I cared more about Lou Amundson than Kevin Love. WHAT HAS BECOME OF MY LIFE?
- This team can pass the crap out of the ball. Kirilenko’s court vision is surprisingly fantastic, as is Alexei Shved’s. Even Love tossed a couple of nice passes. Once Rubio comes back…my goodness.
- Chase Budinger took six free throws tonight, which is 13 more than Wes Johnson took last season. You know, roughly.
- In fact, Budinger was such a significant upgrade from Wes, it was almost shocking. Budinger knocked down 2-4 3-point attempts and shot 4-9 from the field. But what was most pleasantly jarring was that he could put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop without Wolves’ fans cringing, waiting for him to dribble the ball off his foo, although, I’ll admit, I cringed anyway out of habit and I’m guessing a lot of you did too. It’s ok. This is a safe place. So Budinger looks like an excellent pickup.
- Shved showed some flashes as well. He clearly has excellent court vision/court sense, and he looked very comfortable. I commented on Twitter (shameless self-promo alert) that he may need some time to adjust to NBA athleticism. The play to which I was referring was one in which Shved drove to the basket, getting by Sam Young easily, and flipped a layup into the air, attempting to get it under Young and use the rim for protection. Young, however, was having none of that and easily swatted the ball out of bounds. This is the kind of play that Shved will need to adjust to, but once he does (and once his much hyped shooting stroke shows up, he was 0-4 from the field and didn’t score all evening), he could clearly be a very good player with a nice flair for the dramatic, tossing a couple of very fun alley-oops to Derrick Williams.
- Williams, for his part, did Derrick Williams-y things. 4-7 from the field in 13 minutes was a nice statline, and he had a couple of highlight reel dunks, but all three of his missed shots were jumpshots. Still. Positivity.
- And then, perhaps the most important and positive development: Brandon Roy was 5-9 from the field with 13 points. He scored on a variety of plays: catch and shoot, mid-range jumpers, layups off penetration and even out of the post. Overall, he was everything we could have possibly hoped he would be in his first game back.
Of course, the real question is whether he can sustain this over a grueling 82 (and hopefully more) game season and whether his beaten up body can withstand all that abuse. It’s an extremely valid concern. But for now, he’s off to a great start.
Some more on this tomorrow, but for now, enjoy Minnesota’s one game winning streak and the return of Timberwolves basketball. Man, it feels good to be back.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.