Minnesota Timberwolves game previews between October 24 and October 30, including games against: Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings.
Welcome Minnesota fans to your first preview of the 2016-2017 NBA season. Throughout the year, Hashtag Basketball will be releasing a weekly update recapping each week’s games and preparing you for the upcoming match-ups.
Let the fun begin.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
For both of these franchises, it was a transitional offseason. Memphis adds marquee free agent Chandler Parsons (currently on IR), returns a healthy Marc Gasol, and re-signs a wealthy Mike Conley. Additionally, the Grizzlies introduce new head coach David Fizdale, a long time assistant coach, most recently with the Miami Heat, to oversee the on-court operations. Fizdale joins with the promise of revamping a bottom-five paced unit into a modern pace-and-space NBA offense.
For Timberwolves fans, Wednesday will mark your first look at the promising core of KAT, Wiggins, LaVine, Rubio, and Dunn underneath the reign of Tom Thibodeau. Between an off-season of non-stop Karl-Anthony Towns hype, the addition of another promising youth in Kris Dunn, and wavering playoff expectations, there’s an unfamiliar, but refreshing level of excitement surrounding basketball in Minnesota.
What to Watch For:
- For Game 1, let’s start with the big picture. Keep an eye for how Thibs manages his player rotations. The Wolves bench has been a point of turmoil for consecutive seasons—will Thibodeau run hockey shifts out of the gate or newly stagger the bench-to-starter minutes?
- 3-pointers galore! Both of these organizations have been locked in the cellar of 3-point shooting for years now, and both feature new coaches promising to reverse this historical trend. Specifically, look for the big men to come out firing. Thibs has already offered reigning rookie of the year Karl-Anthony Towns the security to rain threes. On the other end, for the first time in their careers, the Grit-n-Grind tandem of Gasol and Randolph have been granted the freedom to shoot from beyond the arc. Let’s see if this is an empty off-season promise or a season-long commitment.
- It’s only Game 1, but these teams are both expected to float on the cuffs of a playoff appearance. In a matchup of a youth versus veteran, Minnesota fans can only hope that Wednesday represents the first step towards the passing of a playoff-bound torch.
Saturday, 29 October 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Away
The Sacramento Kings is a troubled organization. Year after year there is constant turnover from the players to the executives. Once again, owner Vivek Ranadivé’s claims that this season marks the beginning to newfound stability—but for the Kings the boy-who-cried-wolf sentiment stands louder than the alternative.
Sacramento personnel changes are highlighted by shooting guard Arron Afflalo, point guard Ty Lawson, and new head coach Dave Joerger, most recently of the Memphis Grizzlies. Moreover, Sacramento continues to perplex franchise superstar DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins with their draft selections of two additional big men. It’s likely to be another season of turmoil in Sacramento, but there is still a sliver of hope behind the promise of another fresh start.
What to Watch For:
- In the past, when Sacramento plays large—Cauley-Stein-Cousins-Gay—Rudy Gay has bullied a weaker Andrew Wiggins. If Wiggins is looking to become the two-way all-star wing that Minnesota so desperately craves, he must prove that he can handle the defensive responsibility of larger offensive-minded wings such as Gay.
- The KAT versus Boogie matchup offers plenty within its own. At this stage in their careers, Boogie is the established elite between the two; however, there’s a growing consensus that this is soon to change. Regardless, these are two of the games most talented big men and the winner of this matchup may suggest the game’s outcome as well.
- Finally, if Thibodeau and the Wolves are going to sneak into the playoffs these sort of games become paramount. The Wolves have infamously struggled on the road for years running, and leaving Sacramento with two week-one road wins will set the proper tone for a successful season to come.