The Minnesota Timberwolves are primed for what should be one of the most exciting seasons in recent years.
With young stars such as Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves had a strong, young core to build a foundation on for the future.
But Minnesota attacked the offseason hard, trading for Jimmy Butler and adding veterans like Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson to help bolster their roster.
On paper, the Wolves appear to be on the verge of playoff contention and Butler is looking forward to being the leading force on the team.
“You can’t abuse leadership,” Butler told Shams Charania of The Vertical. “Know that everybody is always watching you. All eyes, all fingers, everything is going to be on you. It’s healthy. As much as you don’t want to mess up, we are going to make mistakes at times. And it’s OK because everybody makes mistakes.
But you cannot continue to make the same mistake over and over and over again.”
“These young guys do listen, but it’s going to be a process. I’m new, and Andrew [Wiggins], KAT [Karl-Anthony Towns] have been here. I can understand when someone else is coming in, and the culture is really going to change.
I expect the same thing that Thibs [head coach Tom Thibodeau] expects, and we both do not expect to lose on any night, in anything.
“Everybody looks at me. If I’m going 100 miles per hour, if I’m locking up on defense, if I’m sprinting back in transition. You got to use me as an example, because if I’m not doing it, everybody is going to look at it and say: ‘Jimmy isn’t doing it, why do I have to do it?’
“But you can’t ever say I’m not giving it my all. Every day.”
Butler’s work ethic is well documented and his impact and presence is already being noted by his teammates.
“Jimmy’s form of leadership is a different style because he shows you by example, and the good thing for us is he has the history with Coach Thibs,” Crawford said.
“That has helped us know what it takes and how we can succeed in this system.”
“I’ve been on a lot of great teams, but this team might have the best blend of veteran guys, like myself, Jimmy, Taj and Jeff, to go with Andrew and KAT and the younger talent that we have. We have a chance to be strong one through nine and beyond.”
Butler is going to rely on his routine to help Minnesota find wins this year, instilling a winning attitude and teaching the team how to win in the NBA.
“Now I can come mess around and pretend to be an NFL player,” Butler stated. “But seriously, it was important for me to establish a consistent routine. My routine is the same. As long as I’m working like it’s my first day in the league, I’ll be in this league for a very, very long time. When I stop working, that’s when it’s over.
“That’s the groundwork that has been started with me and my trainers. That’s the foundation I have laid down.”
Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns Training to Think Like a Guard
Towns is training to add more guard-like skill sets to his arsenal
“We really did a lot of guard-oriented thought process,” trainer Matt Mazarei said, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.
“During his big-man work we were making him think like a guard, see every option, use those ball drills. He does it, but now it’s more of an emphasis. See the slashers early. He wants to get everyone involved. It’s a team game. That’s the only way they’re going to get into the playoffs.”
Towns posted 24.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game last season for Minnesota.
Wolves’ Ryan Saunders Wants Karl-Anthony Towns to Improve Pick and Roll Defense
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders is looking for superstar center Karl-Anthony Towns to improve one specific area of his defense this upcoming season.
His defense against pick and rolls.
“It’s his feel in terms of pick-and-roll coverage. Not being in no man’s land,” Saunders said, according to the Star Tribune’s Chris Hine. “With that, I understand the responsibility that we have as a staff and I have as a coach, we need to find what his best coverage is, and really commit to that, and for him to become very good at that coverage.”
While Towns has shown improvements on the defensive end of the court, he is not known for his defense, something that will need to improve id he plans on making a difference on an ascending Timberwolves team.
Timberwolves Haven’t Come Close to Trading Andrew Wiggins
According to the report, Wiggins’ camp was unhappy that his name kept coming up in trade rumors in an effort for the Wolves to clear the necessary cap space to sign then-free agent D’Angelo Russell.
The report states that the Wolves never had a deal worth considering, and they remain focused on putting Wiggins in positions where he can be more effective on the court.
Furthermore, Wolves’ head coach Ryan Saunders is implementing an offensive system that will better play to Wiggins’ strengths.
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