Future is right now for Wolves' summer leaguers

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2014 - 8:52 PM

The Wolves top two draft picks from last year and this get their shot.


Timberwolves draft picks Zach LaVine, left, and Glenn Robinson III will get to make their first on-court impressions during the summer league in Las Vegas.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders apparently has taken a win-now approach when it comes to discussions concerning trading away three-time All Star Kevin Love.

But when it came to June’s NBA draft, Saunders clearly took a patient, long-term approach when he selected UCLA freshman guard Zach LaVine 13th overall, and to a far lesser extent, Michigan sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III with the 40th overall pick.

What Saunders did do, though, with both picks is choose athletes who can jump and run with playmaking point guard Ricky Rubio, whether Love is part of the franchise’s future when training camp opens in October or not.

“I do think we’re here for a purpose,” Robinson said.

Both LaVine and Robinson continued on that purposeful path Monday, when each started four days of summer-league workouts at Target Center before the Wolves team of mostly recent draft picks and free agents departs for Las Vegas and games that begin there Saturday.

For the next two weeks, LaVine and Robinson will receive passes from Wolves third-year guard Alexey Shved as well as free agents Brady Heslip from Baylor and Markel Starks from Georgetown. (Shved’s Summer League presence is, in essence, an audition for the team’s backup point guard spot.)

Come October, they will be running with Ricky.

Saunders didn’t exactly say LaVine and Robinson both were chosen exactly for that purpose.

But he did say this: “We specifically wanted to upgrade our athleticism.”

LaVine can see the plan clearly now.

“I can definitely see that now, us being two dudes on the break who can run, we can jump and we can also spot-up and shoot and create our own shot as well,” he said. “I could see myself running the lane, not knowing who he is going to pass to and then the ball’s going to be in the air and it’s up for grabs as to who is going to dunk it.

“You’re always going to need to be looking for passes everywhere. He has eyes in the back of his head. I know he’s going to be exciting to play with.”

The Wolves currently also have veterans Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger and second-year swingman Shabazz Muhammad who can run the floor with Rubio, but Saunders seems to consider his two new rookies a bit in their own category.

“Their ability to run with Ricky, we don’t really have a lot of players like them,” Saunders said. “In order to become a good team, you have to become a melting pot. When you look at [NBA champion] San Antonio, they don’t all do the same things. Someone brings something different to the table. We wanted to become a little more diversified in our abilities and that’s what these two guys brought.”

LaVine and Robinson each have a Synergy Sports computer account that allows them to watch possession by possession footage of any game they’ve or any of their new teammates have played.

LaVine said he plans to use his account access to study Rubio’s moves.

“I’ve got to do scouting on my own team now,” he said.

The day after he was drafted, Robinson said he used to that account to watch Rubio play and has seen him on television and YouTube highlights as well.

“I’m very excited to see him in person and how he operates,” Robinson said. “Seeing how well he controls the offense and how well he can move the ball as a pass-first point guard, I’m really looking forward to that connection. I see a lot of highlights coming soon.”

Robinson said he believes both he and LaVine can help the Wolves “speed the tempo up a little bit” with the Rubio running the show with the ball in his hands.

He said the many possibilities are up for Saunders, also the team’s new coach, to decide.

“Who knows?” Robinson said of those possibilities. “That will be his job to figure out.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question