The Minnesota Timberwolves opened training camp for the 2014-2015 season in style, hosting a midnight madness-style practice at Minnesota State University. Admitted free of charge, hordes of excited fans packed the rafters of Bresnan Arena to welcome the new-look ‘Wolves, highlighted by Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and rookie high-fliers Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.
Coach Flip Saunders kicked things off by watching his players go through casual segments of 3-man and 5-man weave, followed by sessions of a bit more intense 3-on-2. Though the ‘Wolves were hardly going full speed, they still managed a couple highlights that had the crowd rocking.
Here’s LaVine getting things started:
And this is Shabazz Muhammad – newly lithe, we should mention – showing off his improved explosiveness:
Competitiveness was noticeably higher from thereafter, as Minny broke into three separate teams for mostly unstructured scrimmaging. Ever the point guard, though, Rubio couldn’t resist giving Wiggins some tips:
Perhaps this sick alley-oop was due to Rubio’s planning:
After exhibiting his effortless shooting stroke by knocking down a pair of three-pointers, LaVine did what he does best with a little help from Thaddeus Young and Corey Brewer:
Wiggins was back at it in the final game after his team sat the second scrimmage. As his ballhandling skills develop, this is the type of bucket that will be commonplace for the Canadian sensation:
Later in the game, Muhammad grabbed a steal and threw down hard over Rubio. And no, we’re not sure why Ricky was contesting a fast-break dunk so hard in a 1:00AM pickup game:
Wiggins must not have taken kindly to Muhammad’s slam over his new point guard, though, because he blocked Shabazz’s step-back try on the ensuing possession and flew in for a steal and coast-to-coast dunk on the next one. The final session ended tied at 22-22 after Rubio made a three-pointer with two seconds left and Wiggins disrupted the opponent’s desperation try on the other end. Thankfully, we were all spared overtime.
Though the ‘Wolves were relatively engaged for five-on-five work, the basketball was typically sloppy. This marked the first time many of them had played together, after all, and there’s also the hour to consider – these players were asked to perform into early morning despite spending all of Monday fulfilling media obligations.
But you’re not here for scrimmage tidbits. Like the students of Mankato, you want the dunk-off between Wiggins and LaVine you were promised. Well, the ‘Wolves didn’t exactly deliver there, but instead let Wiggins, LaVine, and fellow rookie Glenn Robinson III jog up-and-down unencumbered to perform some contest-worthy slams.
So we’ll have to wait until February for the real thing, after all. But if Dunks After Dark was any indication, Wiggins and LaVine will easily quench our dunking thirst until then during the first few months of the regular season.
(All GIFs via @cjzero)
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