By: Dan Slaubaugh
The first week of training camp brought some notable news and quotes from the Wolves players and coaches. From Ricky Rubio telling the media how hard he tried hard to get Pau Gasol to sign here, to Karl Towns stating that the whole "12-year playoff drought" phrase is getting old, Wolves media finally had something to gnaw on.
My personal favorites came from Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica.
With that said, one thing has become increasingly clear throughout the first week of training camp. Tom Thibodeau believes Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica -- two players who had mediocre 2015/16 seasons -- can be key contributors in 2016/17.
We are all aware of Shabazz's ability to put the ball in the basket. He's good at it. It's the defensive side of the ball that has held the 23-year old back in his first three NBA seasons. This is something he's looking to improve on.
“It’s crazy. I feel like I’ve already gotten way smarter on defense," Muhammad said. "Just the things coach is explaining to us and attention to detail and his defensive schemes. I feel like we’re getting them pretty quick.”
Thibodeau has noticed improvement on that end so far as well, offering praise for Shabazz's willingness to learn.
“The first step is to know what you have to do,” Thibodeau said. “He’s done a good job with that… He’s a terrific athlete. He’s strong. There’s no reason why he can’t be a great defender.”
Thibodeau has also hinted that we could see Muhammad at the two, three and four this season.
"One of the things the coaches have been telling me is that they want to use me to spread the floor," Muhammad said. "They’re thinking of playing me at three different positions, putting me in different spots so I can find ways to score the ball. I think for me it’s really getting to know our new offensive system. I just can’t wait to get started. I know I can be an X-Factor for this team, I just have to go out there and start working right away in training camp. - UPROXX
How Thibodeau uses Bazz in preseason play will be something for Wolves fans to keep an eye on.
Professor Big Shots
Nemanja Bjelica's first season was a roller coaster (beating a dead horse here) filled with inconsistent play. However, it sounds like he is on a mission to prove his doubters wrong. He almost entirely spent his summer in Minneapolis working on his game and trying out a new diet which looks to have paid off.
John Meyer (Canis Hoopus) has raved about Bjelica's potential and ability to help this team return to the playoffs, which is something I am fully on board with.
More importantly, Thibodeau is as well.
"I'm excited about him. He's had a great summer. He's in really good shape. He has a very unique skill set: He acn shoot the three, he can put it on the floor. The one thing that is probably overlooked is his playmaking ability. You can run the pick-and-roll with him. He's got great vision, he can pass over people."
Let's hope Nemanja can shake off an inconsistent rookie season and turn heads his sophomore year.
Fun Fact (h/t Kyle Ratke of Timberwolves.com) about Bjelica: He said the he got his driver’s license this offseason, after carpooling with Nikola Pekovic at times last season.
I just want to know why there wasn't a podcast recorded from their car rides.
Karl-Anthony Towns stars in Gatorade's "Burn It To Earn It" advertising series.
Timberwolves add Ed Pickney to their coaching staff.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins share their thoughts on Kevin Garnett.
Around the League
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It's time for Demarcus Cousins to rise above the Kings' dysunction.
*All unsourced quotes from this article were taken from Timberwolves.com.
That's right. The #Wolves have a basketball game this week. They will take on the Miami Heat on Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri at the Sprint Center. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm CT. Until then, have a wonderful week, and be sure to follow @OnTheProwl_MN on Twitter for extensive coverage/analysis of Timberwolves training camp.