July 7, 2018, 1:53 am
The Wolves fell just short in their Summer League opener 70-69, but the results matter less than the individual performances. No one player stood out in an extraordinary way, but there were some intriguing moments from many of the players, especially first-rounder Josh Okogie. Instead of a general recap, we’ll highlight certain key players.
The Wolves’ No. 20 overall pick got off to a slow start in this one and offensively didn’t have a great showing, but he was tenacious on the defensive end. He shot just 2-of-10 from the field with 10 points, but chipped in seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks.
Better look pic.twitter.com/PRTgdiboZx
— Hoop Ball Wolves (@HoopBallWolves) July 7, 2018
This whole play makes me want to gamble. pic.twitter.com/sWuvMiqBmr
— Kyle Ratke (@Kyle_Ratke) July 7, 2018
He’s extremely raw on offense and tonight forced the issue a bit with five turnovers (many careless) and an inconsistent jumper. He did get to the line eight times and wasn’t shy about pulling up. Most of his looks were clean, which is good, he wasn’t just launching recklessly. In time those will go in.
It’s easy to see why Thibodeau fell in love with this kid. At only 6′-4″ he’s a bit small, but he really showed off his 7′ wingspan and excellent jumping ability. He was also diving on the floor for loose balls and looking ahead in transition. Thibs tried to get his team to play faster last year and Okogie is definitely a guy who fits that defense-to-offense style. There are holes in his game and he doesn’t have much combo-guard ability yet, but the tools are there to be a lock-down defensive guard.
With Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones ahead of him on the depth chart he may not see much time, but if Okogie keeps this up all summer he may force the issue.
The Wolves No. 48 overall pick was fairly one-dimensional in this one, which wasn’t quite as advertised going into the draft (but was quietly among some of the concerns teams had with him). He’s ideally a versatile wing that moves the ball, switches on defense and can create his own offense all over the floor.
In this contest, though, he seemed a step behind the action. He wasn’t shy about shooting (3-of-11), but most came beyond the arc (1-of-7). He was also a bit unsure with the ball in his hands (zero assists, four turnovers). One play stuck out in particular where he took the ball from mid court and had a bigger, slower defender on him. He dribbled to the elbow with a clear lane in front of him but hesitated a moment, perhaps looking to pass. The slight delay cost him as the defender regained ground and the paint filled up. He ended up dribbling off his shoe anyway for a turnover.
It’s unfair to base his entire game off of one play, perhaps there were jitters or he was trying to play the Draymond Green role a bit too actively.
He grabbed seven rebounds, had one steal and one block, and hit both of his free throws.
After the Wolves signed Anthony Tolliver and more-or-less capped out their offseason (maybe one or tow more moves at the minimum salary), Bates-Diop was probably the more likely guy to see bigger minutes out of the two Wolves’ rookies. With the guard rotation set and the two bigs locked-in, Bates-Diop, on paper, fits in better as a reserve wing next to the incumbent veterans than Okogie does. He’s also a bit older and more polished offensively. There’s a long summer ahead, though.
The Wolves freshly signed two-way player was mostly quiet in his first taste of NBA action. He scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting with no assists (but also no turnovers) as the lead guard. He was mostly out-shined by third-year player Isaiah Cousins.
Terrell did chip in three rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer, but he was eaten alive by Monte Morris and Malik Beasely, two NBA ‘veterans’ (by Summer League standards). He has little to no shot at cracking Thibs’ rotation next season, but his scoring ability is legitimate and he should light up Iowa.
One of the Wolves’ two-way contract recipients last season, Jefferson had a little bit of hype going into this Summer League after averaging a double-double in the G-League last year (setting a league record in total double-doubles). He doesn’t have the best size, but makes up for it with an uncanny ability to be in the perfect spot for rebounds.
He wasn’t too impressive in this one, though, in likely his first outing in front of many Wolves’ fans. He ended up with a double-double (surprise) scoring 12 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, but that was mostly thanks to a late surge in the fourth.
He was mostly lost of defense blowing rotations, missing help assignments and getting beat off the dribble. He chipped in a steal and a block.
His offense is limited to the paint, where he shot 6-of-10. He missed all of his free throws and has no jumper to speak of. These were all categorized last season as well.
Jefferson was not signed to another two-way, nor was he extended a qualifying offer.
Personally, I had some hype that White would have a huge showing this summer and shoot his way into a contract on the Wolves. He has a long hill to climb now.
White was pretty much invisible, recording just a single rebound in eight minutes of action. He was 0-of-4 from the field just lacked any sort of drive. No two ways around it, he was awful. The good news is there are more games ahead for him to bounce back.
White was a two-way player for the Hawks last season and shot the lights out in both Atlanta and their G-League. At 6′-7″ he has nice size as well.
The third-year player out of Oklahoma had a solid offensive game for himself, scoring a team-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He added three assists, one rebound and one steal to his line.
Summer League is a job fair for many of the players on the floor. Many guys are looking to latch onto a training camp roster and finagle that into an NBA cup of coffee. For Cousins it’s no exception, he’s out here competing for a roster spot with any team, whoever is watching and as a result sometimes players get a little bit of tunnel vision. It worked for Cousins himself tonight as he was about the only player hitting shots, but sometimes at the expense of an extra pass.
The Wolves may be looking for a veteran third-guard to fill the Aaron Brooks role, and Cousins is could be an option. More likely, though, Thibs would prefer a bit more experience there.
The next Wolves game is on Sunday afternoon where they’ll take on the Toronto Raptors.