By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Monday, Wolves fans.
The Wolves (2-2) in preseason play) are so close to playing meaningful basketball, with only nine days until they tipoff their season in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
So, how is the team looking with only nine days until the season tips off? Any new changes to the lineup?
The answer: Nah, not really.
Tom Thibodeau will assuredly roll with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, and Karl-Anthony Towns as his starting five. Nemanja Bjelica appears to have embraced the Wolves' "sixth man" role for now, with Cole Aldrich following shortly after and Kris Dunn Brandon Rush and Shabazz Muhammad rounding out the second unit.
As for Tyus Jones, it doesn't look like he will be getting many minutes to start the year. How many minutes he would initially receive was in direct correlation to how well Kris Dunn could shoot from the perimeter, and Dunn's shooting has been pretty awful so far going 9-41 (3-25 from outside five feet, 1-8 3ptfg - 12%) from the field so far.
More on Dunn: He's playing like a rookie point guard generally does. Along with his poor perimeter shooting, he's had a difficult time converting post-entry passes and seeing the entire floor. This has led to 13 turnovers and 16 assists through the first four games, which is an 0.8:1 assist/turnover ratio. That my friends, is not good.
But that's what preseason is for. It takes time for rookies to adapt to the pace and speed of the NBA game, and Dunn is asked to do so at the toughest position to play.
Dunn will improve, and may have to at quick rate if the Wolves want to contend for a playoff spot, but it will take time.
After all, not everyone can be Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Wolves will wrap up preseason play with two games this week against the Memphis Grizzlies (Wednesday - 7pm CT) and Charlotte Hornets (Friday - 7pm CT). Both games will be televised on FSNorth.
Last Tuesday, the Timberwolves announced they will be hosting an open scrimmage at Target Center on October 18th (tomorrow). Here's the official release.
Minneapolis/St. Paul – The Timberwolves announced today that they will host “Wolves Fan Fest” at Target Center on Tuesday, October 18. The event, which is free and open to the public, will give fans their first look at the 2016-17 roster.
Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. with the team taking the floor at 7:00 p.m. Wolves Fan Fest requires securing a ticket in advance, which fans can obtain by visiting timberwolves.com.
The Wolves home opener is set for Tuesday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m. against the Memphis Grizzlies. Single-game tickets are currently on sale at timberwolves.com or by calling 612-673-1234.
This will be a great opportunity for fans to get their first look at the this years team under new head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The event drew a great crowd last year, so one would think they will draw equal or even more this time around with the unreal amount of hype this team is getting, which leads me to my next segment.
So. Much. Hype
If one wants to find a pump-up article on the up-and-coming Timberwolves, they won't have to look to hard. They're everywhere.
ESPN's Zach Lowe published his annual 30 "crazy predictions" for the 2016/17 NBA season. In it you will find that the Wolves are everyone's pick to steal a playoff spot. Also, Lowe predicts Karl-Anthony Towns will make his All-Star debut this year in New Orleans.
More from ESPN's NBA writing staff: Senior Writer Brian Windhorst seems to be riding the Wolves bandwagon pretty hard as well, following them around a bit during preseason. He's published two articles on the team so far. The first on how Tom Thibodeau's extreme makeover of the Wolves is underway. The second on how the future of the Wolves rests on Andrew Wiggins' emergence. Both are fantastic pieces and I recommend you read.
Bleacher Report Lead Writer Jonathan Abrams wrote about how the young stars of the Wolves are ready to take over the NBA and tried to answer the question on if they can turn around a franchise that seems to have forgotten to win.
After so many years of being the laughing stock of the league, the Wolves are finally the darling of the NBA media. A budding superstar, a young stud every other young team would be drooling to have as their number one guy, and a vast array of young talent surrounding them led by one of the league's top coaches will do that to you. Pair that with a new practice facility and a renovated Target Center and there's no secret why there's a feeling of rebirth surrounding the Wolves organization right now.
Have some people gotten ahead of themselves? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't believe that question can be answered until we start playing some games. Nonetheless, this is easily the Wolves most hyped squad since 2003-04.
It's an amazing feeling when the trajectory of a franchise (particularly the team you follow most) is trending upwards after 12+ consecutive years of bottom-dwelling. Fans should savor the national attention this team is getting -- even if it is overblown -- and be excited about the team's future. I mean, come on, this franchise boasts the worst winning percentage in NBA history. It's okay to feel giddy that the future will bring joy through success, even though this team might not materialize as early as people are projecting.