Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Lance Stephenson spent just more than a month in Minnesota last season — on a pair of 10-day contracts — but his stay could have been much, much longer. In six games in Minnesota last season, Stephenson averaged 3.5 points and 1.7 rebounds. He said his time with the Timberwolves was "actually great." "I learned a lot from (Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau), got to play with a couple all-star caliber guys and I liked it here," Stephenson said Tuesday, Oct. 24. "I liked the fans, they embraced me well. I just loved it here."
MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Wiggins has been the Timberwolves' big-shot taker for the past two years. In each of the past two seasons, Wiggins led Minnesota in field goal attempts and points scored in clutch situations — when the game is within five points with less than five minutes to play.
MINNEAPOLIS — In with the new, in with the old. That's the vibe for the Timberwolves home opener against Utah on Friday, Oct. 20. On one hand, it'll be the fans' first chance to get a close-and-personal view of the likes of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and the rest of this overhauled Wolves roster, donning Minnesota's new Nike uniforms, at newly renovated Target Center.
MINNEAPOLIS — There were only six players left on the court a few minutes after Timberwolves practice ended on Oct. 10. Players were quick to leave the day after landing back in Minneapolis after a 16-hour return trip from China that completed an 18-day trip to open training camp. But the six who stayed on the court refused to leave. They went on to play a series of one-on-one contests that lasted more than an hour.
MINNEAPOLIS—There are thousands of reasons to like the $140 million Target Center renovation, which, for all intents and purposes, is complete heading into the Timberwolves' home opener against Utah on Friday — and those are just the seats. They'll take the place of the previous seats, which could have been fairly described as ratty and uncomfortable.
MINNEAPOLIS—Taj Gibson returned to Brooklyn to play his first NBA game in his hometown on Feb. 1, 2013. He received a hero's welcome he didn't expect. It was the Chicago Bulls' maiden voyage to the Barclays Center, the $1 billion home of the Nets, located less than two miles south of the Fort Greene neighborhood where Gibson grew up. Gibson had a lot of fans in the arena that evening, many of whom he'd never met.
MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns said the Timberwolves were "walking" through much of training camp last year. "Sometimes crawling," he said. That has nothing to do with their pace or effort, but that's about the speed at which players were absorbing Tom Thibodeau's system at the start of the coach's first season in Minnesota. Fast forward a year and by the first day of training camp, Towns said, players already were "jogging," a marked improvement. That's what consistency can do for you, something this franchise hasn't had in a long time.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twenty-two times last season, the Timberwolves possessed a double-digit lead only to lose the game. It was an epidemic, and a costly one. Flip those 22 games from losses to wins, and Minnesota makes the playoffs. So coach Tom Thibodeau went to work in the offseason looking to diagnose the issues that prevented the Wolves from closing games out.
MINNEAPOLIS — In his mind, he's earned it. Andrew Wiggins believes he's worth the five-year extension worth nearly $150 million he signed with the Timberwolves on Wednesday, which comes into play following this season and theoretically keeps him in Minnesota through the 2022-23 campaign. He thinks his play has warranted that type of deal. The people who matter most tend to agree.
SHANGHAI — Life will come at the Timberwolves fast once the regular season kicks off in two weeks. Minnesota travels to San Antonio to take on Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs to open the regular season, then returns home to face the defensively dominant Jazz before going to Oklahoma City to battle the reloaded Thunder. The Timberwolves' first four games that count are against playoff teams from a year ago. That's not easy, or ideal, for a group just trying to find its rotation, roles and footing.