Nikola Pekovic said he’s not upset, he’s just unsure. He’s not frustrated, he’s just trying to find a good fit.
Early in the season, fresh off signing his long-term deal, Pekovic is trying to fit in with the only NBA team he has played for.
So much has changed from a year ago. Kevin Love, injured for much of last season, is back. Kevin Martin, the shooting guard the team has been looking for, has been inserted into the offense, changing the dynamic. And Pekovic, the physical center, still is looking for his place in the offense.
“When you have all the shooters, I need to try to fit in,” he said. “I can’t see as many balls as I did last year.”
Pekovic is quick to add he’s not unhappy about this. He understands Love is the team’s first option and that Martin needs his shots, too. All Pekovic wants to do, he says, is win. He just needs to find out how best to help the team do just that.
“It will come all together,” Pekovic said. “It will be fine. … I know everybody is doing everything in their power to make my life easier. And I’m doing everything to make their life easier.”
Pekovic has scored in double figures in four of five games, with double-doubles in two of them.
But his 11-point scoring average is down more than six points from last season. His 38.9 shooting percentage is well off his career 53.3 mark, and his turnovers are up.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman figures Pekovic will find his comfort zone with more patience and more help from his teammates.
Indeed, that was one of the themes that emerged from a lengthy film session Thursday. Adelman wanted to show how out of whack the offense got after the first quarter in Wednesday’s loss to Golden State. It showed players breaking off from called plays, going to the wrong places on the court, not moving the ball from side to side.
“I don’t think we have any selfish players,” Adelman said. “But we’re playing selfish right now. It’s not so much you don’t pass the ball, it’s you don’t make the right cuts, you don’t get in the right spots. We’re shortcutting a lot of stuff offensively.”
And that is affecting everyone, especially Pekovic.
He has to continue to work to get position, and he has to be willing to kick the ball out when the paint is congested. Perhaps more important, Adelman said, is for Pekovic to be more patient and not try to rush things. But Adelman said the team needs to help Pekovic.
“I thought we could have got him the ball a number of times [Wednesday] night, but we didn’t do it,’’ the coach said. “We went to someone else. And, we give him or Kevin the ball, and we don’t do what we’re supposed to do and it’s all jammed up and he has no place to go. So it’s a combination.”
Pekovic has hit just seven of his 23 shots with five turnovers in the past two games. But he thinks he’ll be OK.
“No one should be frustrated,” he said. “Everything is going to come and everything is going to be fine.”