Rand: A memo for the new Timberwolves

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2014 - 12:04 PM

Fans are hungry to cheer new, young Timberwolves additions. They'll probably be cautious and skeptical at first, but if they start believing, they can be fiercely loyal.

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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio is the leader of the new-look Wolves.

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Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young will meet the local masses in the most appropriate venue possible Tuesday — at the State Fair.

Before that basketball on a stick introduction, however, we took it upon ourselves to give the newbies a primer on what they should know about Minnesota and the Timberwolves:

1) This one is for Wiggins in particular: You are not replacing Kevin Love. Young is the power forward coming over to play Love’s old position, but Wiggins is the centerpiece of the deal. That said, he should not feel as though he has to be what Love was.

In fact, it is crucial that he forges his own identity as a rookie in this league. Wiggins is not going to replicate the sheer offensive production of Love, nor will he command the immediate respect of opponents that Love earned. But he can be a dynamic two-way player and the heart of a team with a new identity. That’s plenty.

2) It hasn’t always been bad. A decade of woe, as well as the lean early years of the franchise, can make us forget sometimes that the Timberwolves, in the middle years of their existence, were a perennial playoff team. They made it in eight consecutive seasons from 1997-2004, the last of which ended with a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

And in that season, particularly in the playoffs and especially in Game 7 against Sacramento, the atmosphere in Target Center was about as good as it gets.

3) Speaking of which, there is a dedicated group of fans here in this state. Don’t listen to those who attempt to make lame “Minnesota has an NBA team?” jokes. We might call ourselves the State of Hockey, but when the hoops are good, this can quickly become the State of Basketball.

The fans probably will be cautious and skeptical at first, but if they start believing, they can be fiercely loyal.

4) More than anything, Minnesota fans love effort. This is largely a blue collar state. While the fans in the good seats will be corporate, the ones commenting online and calling talk radio will not be. They will demand maximum effort, they will abhor laziness and they will be keenly aware of your status as young millionaires.

Show hustle, ability and competence in line with your salary, and they will love you.

5) Yes, it’s cold here. And maybe Minneapolis wouldn’t top your list of NBA cities in which to play if given all the options. Then again, neither would Cleveland, San Antonio or Oklahoma City — lesser cities than this one that are doing just fine talent-wise. As your new boss, Flip Saunders, said Saturday:

“Our NBA has become, instead of destination city, it’s become destination players. Around our league it seems players gravitate toward other players to play with. We feel with some of the players that we have that we’re going to have the ability to get players to gravitate towards our organization because of that.”

That could happen here. It might not. Much of that is up to you.

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Los Angeles 6 Top 2nd Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
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Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
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Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
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Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
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Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
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Calgary
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