Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS—Rarely does Tom Thibodeau prematurely tip his hand on what's to come for the Timberwolves. But if Minnesota's coach and president of basketball operations gave any indication of a direction the Wolves may be leaning heading into Thursday's NBA draft, it might have been something he said last month. "You have to have the ability to play big, but also to play small. We'll look for that," Thibodeau said. "Guys that can play multiple positions, those wings that are 6-7, 6-8, 6-9, we're looking for those guys."
MINNEAPOLIS — There are years when possessing a pick in the back half of the top 10 in the NBA draft puts teams in a pickle. The top-tier players are gone, and there's no great option remaining. That's not the case this season. Regardless of who is taken with the first six selections, Minnesota should have plenty of top prospects to choose from with the No. 7 selection in the draft Thursday night, June 22. It appears to be that deep.
MINNEAPOLIS — Pekka Markkanen was asked for his thoughts on the day his son, Lauri, announced his decision to enter the NBA draft after one season at Arizona. "I'm just so amazed at how much Lauri loves basketball," said Pekka, who himself had a long playing career overseas. Everyone is. Markkanen played all 37 games last season, and Arizona coach Sean Miller said his freshman missed just one of an estimated 97 practices.
MINNEAPOLIS — For years the Timberwolves and former president of basketball operations David Kahn have been heavily criticized publicly over the decision to pass on Steph Curry, who turned into an all-world guard for Golden State, in favor of selecting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn in the 2009 NBA draft. Rubio has worked out, for the most part. Flynn? Not so much. But, as Kahn explains, the Wolves never had much of a decision to make on Curry. Curry had no intentions of coming to Minnesota.
ST. PAUL — In 13 seasons, Lindsay Whalen has been to the WNBA Finals seven times — twice with the Connecticut Sun and five times with the Lynx. She has won three titles, all with Minnesota, and 294 total games. The latter is tied for the league record, a mark Whalen currently shares with Swin Cash. A win Friday, June 9 at Washington would make Whalen the WNBA's all-time victories leader. "I've been around some great teams and great coaches," Whalen said. "And it also means I've been around a while." But there's more to it than that.
ST. PAUL — Cheryl Reeve was named the WNBA's inaugural Coach of the Month on Friday, June 2, for leading the Lynx to a perfect 6-0 mark in May. Had the award been around in 2016, Reeve also certainly would have won the honor for, again, leading Minnesota to a 6-0 mark. In 2014, Reeve and the Lynx went, you guessed it, 6-0 in May. They only played five games in May in 2012, but won all of those, too.
NEW YORK — A number of people around the Timberwolves organization have asked owner Glen Taylor why he isn't making the trip to New York for Tuesday's NBA draft lottery. Taylor represented the Wolves at the lottery two years ago, when Minnesota nabbed the No. 1 pick in the draft, which turned into franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns.
ST. PAUL — Maya Moore is a three-time WNBA champion, the 2013 Finals MVP, 2014 WNBA MVP, a four-time all-star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. She is one of the best players in WNBA history and has achieved just about everything there is to do in a basketball career, and she's only 27 years old. And with each passing season comes a new wrinkle that makes Moore's game all the more dynamic. Last season, for example, Moore became more of a distributor, leading the Lynx with 4.2 assists per game, a career high.
Cheryl Reeve makes it a point in the first few days of training camp to make the rookies and younger players feel comfortable. The Lynx coach might slow things down and over explain, just to make sure everyone is on the same page. That, Reeve said, is so the coaching staff can make better evaluations of the younger players. "Rather than losing them the first day," she said. Those days might not be fun for the veterans, who have been through several camps and heard Reeve's lessons many times. Reeve said she asks the Lynx veterans to simply bear with her.
MINNEAPOLIS — Shao Ting described herself as excited and nervous as Lynx training camp opened Sunday. This is the first taste of the WNBA for the 6-foot forward from China, though Shao has played with and against WNBA competition before as captain of the Chinese national team that lost to the U.S. in the group stage of the 2016 Rio Olympics.