Rand: Newest Wolves take a bow

  • Updated: August 26, 2014 - 10:40 PM
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The Wolves’ Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and Zach LaVine appeared at the State Fair.

Photo: BRIAN PETERSON ‘ • brian.peterson@startribune.com,

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As fans and media members waited for the start of Tuesday’s introduction of new Timberwolves players — part news conference, part pep rally at the Minnesota State Fair — two young girls in the front were wearing the perfect jerseys for the occasion.

One had on Kevin Love’s No. 42, while the other wore No. 8 — Latrell Sprewell or Michael Beasley, take your pick. Either way, as the Wolves trotted out Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young from the Love trade, as well as first-round pick Zach Lavine (the new No. 8), the juxtaposition was a fitting, if grim, reminder of the various rebuilds the organization has undergone. The Wolves even used “re-re-re-rebuilding” as part of an ad campaign a few years ago.

You can add another “re” or two to that list. We won’t know for a while if this one sticks, but we at least should have some clues in the upcoming season. Until then, here are observations from the first chance to interact with the new players:

• They already have bought into the new organizational mantra preaching athleticism and defense. Both subjects were brought up multiple times as players spoke in various venues. While this is certainly a tip of the cap to their collective strengths, it is also in stark contrast to Love. He’s obviously athletic, but Love would not win any dunk contests. Defense was never his strong suit. The line between the last rebuild and this rebuild has been drawn.

• LaVine and Wiggins seem pretty comfortable with each other already. They joked about a dunk contest between the two of them, and then they went down the “Big Slide” together. Another “only at the Fair” highlight: Bennett ate alligator.

• The selfie is the new autograph. OK, sure, some fans still wanted to have an old fashioned signature, but with players moving quickly from place to place, selfie photos with players were more efficient. LaVine stood and posed for about 15 at the same time before being whisked away to his next spot.

• Young, at least upon first impression, has the skills to be a leader. He is well-spoken — and quick to note that the Wolves haven’t made the playoffs in a decade, a drought he vows to conquer. He is accomplished enough to command respect as a seven-year veteran who averaged 17.9 points per game last season. But he is also young enough — he just turned 26 in June — to have the right mix of savvy and relatability. That’s good, because the Wolves could use leaders in their locker room during this rebuild.

michael rand

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